With rising income inequality in the United States, you might expect more and more people to conclude that it’s time to soak the rich. Here’s a puzzle, though: Over the last several decades, close to the opposite has happened.
Since the 1970s, middle-class incomes have been stagnant in inflation-adjusted terms, while the wealthy have done very well; inequality of wealth and income has risen.
Over that same period, though, Americans’ views on whether the government should work to redistribute income — to tax the rich, for example, and funnel the proceeds to the poor and working class — have, depending on which survey answers you look at, either been little changed, or shifted toward greater skepticism about redistribution.
In other words, Americans’ desire to soak the rich has diminished even as the rich have more wealth available that could, theoretically, be soaked.