Why Resentment Against Super-Rich Is Increasing

People resent billionaires only when their own wealth is stagnating or worse: Catherine Rampell
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2014 11:44 AM CDT
Why Resentment Against Super-Rich Is Increasing

Rhetoric against the uber-rich is getting so heated that billionaires have resorted to trotting out Holocaust comparisons. But the anger is rising not because normal folks hate the 0.1% and resent their good fortune, but because their own wealth is either stagnant or shrinking, writes Catherine Rampell at the Washington Post. "That is, they care less about Lloyd Blankfein's gigantic bonus if they got even a tiny raise this year." Rampell makes her point by looking at back at Americans' attitudes toward the very rich over the years.

In the tech boom of the late 1990s, for example, the gap between rich and poor widened, but people generally weren't upset about it because their own household incomes grew as well. In the wake of the Great Recession, however, hostility is on the rise because the rich are getting richer while everyone else is standing still or worse. If the super rich "want to be left alone—or at least not pursued by pitchforks and guillotines—they should probably support policies that promote the upward mobility of other Americans," writes Rampell. Think early childhood education and a higher minimum wage, for example. Sure, the rich might have to pay more in taxes, but if history is a guide, that won't affect their ever-growing wealth. Click for her full column. (More income inequality stories.)

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