Here's the type of blatantly contradictory and self-harming political belief that Americans are famous for: during this recession, support for redistribution of wealth has actually gone down. (This is why every American political economist is for shit, historically.) Researchers publishing in Scientific American suggest the problem is that we are willing to throw the poorest members of society to the economic wolves in order to ensure that we always have someone to look down on:
How does last-place aversion play out with regard to redistribution? In our surveys, we asked Americans whether they supported an increase to the minimum wage, currently $7.25 per hour. Those making $7.25 or below were very likely to support the increase – after all, they would be immediate beneficiaries. In addition, people making substantially more than $7.25 were also fairly positive towards the increase. Which group was the most opposed? Those making just above the minimum wage, between $7.26 and $8.25.
We would rather keep the poor poor than allow the poor to rise to our own level—then we would be poor! Sure, you could blame the psychological aversion to last place, or the fundamental selfishness of mankind. But I suspect that it has more to do with the fact that Americans don't know a god damn thing about money.
Only 50 percent of households reported any credit card debt, while credit card companies reported that 76 percent of households owed them money.
You know what I bet caused this whole financial mess? Welfare queens.
[Photo via Richard Masoner/Flickr]