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Someone finally polled the 1% — And it's not pretty

This is an interesting poll funded by the Russel Sage Foundation which compared opinions of the very wealthy with those of "the ninety-nine percent."  The results were about what i  would have expected, the  opinions of the wealthy tended to support their own economic interests, the general public seemed less certain that "what ia good for General Motors is good for the country."  The differences of opinion were significant and, in some cases, dramatic.

There was also a tendency, i thought, to pretend that there is not a "class war." with  a significant minority of the  elite supporting the interests of the majority of the people.  As is uisual, however, the elite have been much more successful in swaying public opinion in their direction than the public has been in swaying elite opinion in theirs.  Power and social structure are powerful constraints  on our ability to freely experes our own opinions on things.

In the area of social security beneftts, eliminating, cutting, or privatizing them would be in the immediate short term interests of the wealthy and devasting  for many of the rest of us.  Yet 54 percent of the general  public do not support the expansion  of social security and 67 of tge elite do not support contraction.  In a "one person gets one vote" situation, social security seems pretty safe unless the wealthy are able to convince large segments of  working and middle class conservatives to vote against their interests in the name of some concept like "freedom" or "self-reliance."

One area that benefits owners and hurts workers is the movement of company headquarters to foreign soil.  Seventy-three percent of the general public oppose this practice; but twenty-seven percent of the economic elite also oppose it.  Members of the "upper-upper class" are notoriously interconnected; surely the one-in-four have some influence on the other three.

Just over half of the general population agree that wealth should be redistrubuted through "heavy taxes on the rich."  Seventeen percent of the rich agree.  This shows how power and influence sucks the winds or opinion toward it.  We capture seventeen percent of their hears and minds while  the take 48 percent of ours.  That's pretty heavy casualties in any war, cold or otherwise.  Still, that means that about one out of  every six big wealth holders agree that people them them could stand to pay much higher taxes than than they do.  And they did pay much higher taxes than the rest of us  between 1930 and 1970.

The biggest gap i could see, in terms of these few questions, betweeen "the best of us" and "the rest of us" is in terms of government jobs for the unemployed.  53% of rhe generak public, and 8 percent of the rich accept this idea.  Most of these jobs, if i follow the discussion. would seem to be in the area of repairing, renewing, securing, or creating physical infrastructure.  No one needs this more than the people who want to  do business here.

In ages past  the elite justified its existence in  terms of being a model of quality and excellence, drawing the rest of us toward them by their example or pretense of mercy, moderation, and modesty.  Now what we mostly see is conspicuous consumption and almost eqially conspicuous corruptio, profits before people, and an "i'll get mine and to hell with you" attitude.  In a day when we need equality far more than quality (apologies to the author of Harrison Burgeron) perhaps those of the elite who consider the needs of others (and those others live in society) equal to their own needs and above their own wants can once again serve as models of "(e)quality."



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