Bill Moyers explains:
Over the weekend, a YouTube video breaking down income inequality in America went viral.
The gap is a lot larger than many informed Americans realize.
We noted in 2011:
Renowned behavioral economist Dan Ariely (Duke University) and Michael I. Norton (Harvard Business School) recently demonstrated that everyone – including conservatives – thinks there should be more equality.
Their study found:
Respondents constructed ideal wealth distributions that were far more equitable than even their erroneously low estimates of the actual distribution. Most important from a policy perspective, we observed a surprising level of consensus: all demographic groups—even those not usually associated with wealth redistribution such as Republicans and the wealthy—desired a more equal distribution of wealth than the status quo.
Taken as a whole, the results suggest to us that there is much more agreement than disagreement about wealth inequality. Across differences in wealth, income, education, political affiliation and fiscal conservatism, the vast majority of people (89%) preferred distributions of wealth significantly more equal than the current wealth spread in the United States. In fact, only 12 people out of 849 favored the US distribution. The media portrays huge policy divisions about redistribution and inequality – no doubt differences in ideology exist, but we think there may be more of a consensus on what’s fair than people realize.
In fact, inequality in America today is actually worse than it was in in Tsarist Russia, Gilded Age America, modern Egypt, Tunisia or Yemen, many banana republics in Latin America, worse than experienced by slaves in 1774 colonial America, and twice as bad as in ancient Rome.
And a who’s who of prominent economists say that too much inequality causes economic downturns.