Tuesday, October 12, 2010
David Cay Johnston
has published United in Our Delusion
, 129 Tax Notes 251 (Oct. 11, 2010):
A clever survey of 5,522 Americans by two behavioral scientists reveals remarkable, near-unanimous agreement on an issue central to our tax debate. [Building a Better America – One Wealth Quintile at a Time, by Michael I. Norton (Harvard Business School) & Dan Ariely (Duke University, Fuqua School of Business).]
Taxes are central to wealth distribution, or redistribution, as we hear endlessly this election cycle. So it would make sense that people who voted for George W. Bush in 2004 think very differently about the ideal distribution of wealth than people who voted for Sen. John Kerry. People who make a lot hold very different ideas than people who make a lot less, right?
Wrong. We don't think differently. In fact, Americans think very much alike on wealth distribution. Amazingly alike. High-income or low, Republican or Democrat, young or old, male or female, Bush voters or Kerry voters, Americans are united in what they believe is the ideal distribution of wealth. And they are just as united about what they imagine to be the distribution of wealth in America.
The problem is that neither the ideals we broadly share, nor our estimated distributions of wealth today, bear much relationship to reality.
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