“The very rich,” wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald, “are different from you and me.”
It turns out he was right. According to a new study by the think-tank Demos (PDF), the affluent tend to hold a different vision of a just society than the public at large, and it is that vision which tops the political agenda in Washington and in state houses across the country.
The report, authored by David Callahan and J. Mijin Cha, found that “wealthy interests are keenly focused on concerns not shared by the rest of the American public, like keeping taxes low on capital gains, and often oppose policies that would foster upward mobility among low-income citizens, such as raising the minimum wage.”
The policy preferences of the wealthy (average income over $1 million annually) vary widely from those of the general public... [A recent] survey found that the general public is more open than the wealthy to a variety of policies designed to reduce inequality and strengthen economic opportunity, including: raising the minimum wage, increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit, providing generous unemployment benefits, and directly creating jobs. For example, only 40 percent of the wealthy think the minimum wage should be high enough to prevent full-time workers from being in poverty while 78 percent of the general public holds this view. Affluent voters are also less supportive of labor unions and less likely to support laws that make it easier for workers to join unions—even as research shows that unions are crucial to enabling people to work their way into the middle class.