Americans: Selfish Hypocrites

Funny thing, about America: we think things should be pretty equal, money-wise. We're not so into huge gaps between rich and poor. But when we learn massive inequality exists, what do we do? Nothing! We're also selfish, in America.

A recent survey out of Harvard Business School shows that, when asked about their ideals of wealth distribution, Americans say they want to see a far more equitable society than exists. Even Republicans say this! But as you look around, you notice that there does not seem to be a unified group of millions of Americans marching in the streets to demand greater equality of wealth.

Why? The survey's authors politely observe that "Americans exhibit a general disconnect between their attitudes toward economic equality and their self-interest and public policy preferences." We are selfish bastards who really couldn't give a fuck if people are poor, or what. I mean, we're happy to tell some pollster on the phone that we support income equality, but to go out and agitate for it—which might mean, heaven forbid, confronting the inconsistencies between our own stated philosophical beliefs and the political parties and pundits which we simultaneously endorse—well, I dunno. I have things to do. (There's also the laziness factor.) And btw, even though our own income has rebounded, we're still not giving to charity like we used to.

We're all jerks, here in America. The poor would be the same way if we let them have the chance.

[Via NYT, chart via HBS]