A new Wall Street Journal poll suggests that Americans have woken up to the extreme inequality that has developed in the country in the past three decades, in which the richest Americans have gotten much richer while everyone else has stayed in place or lost ground.
60% of the poll's respondents believe that the current structure of the economy favors a small portion of the rich over the rest of the country. They also think that the power of major banks and corporations should be curtailed. And that the government shouldn't subsidize or bail out companies.
None of that is surprising given the bailouts of recent years.
What is surprising, or at least is disheartening, is that the same Americans continue to believe that they can have it all.
For example, 53% of Americans believe the debt and deficits should be cut significantly... but the same percentage agrees that taxes should not be raised on anyone.
Similarly, 53% of Americans think that the influence of banks and corporations should be reined in... but that regulations on businesses should be pared back.
In other words, Americans want everything.
Yes, most of those who believe that debt and deficits should be cut probably think that the way to do it is simply through spending cuts, not tax increases. But it's hard to imagine how the necessary deficit reduction could be achieved just through spending cuts, without hammering the economy or cutting into services that Americans want. Non-partisan economists generally think that deficits should be reduced through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.
It's very hard to imagine that we will find a way out of our economic predicament that doesn't involve significant pain of one sort or another. But it does not appear that most Americans have woken up to that.
- Wall Street Journal