THIS ACTUALLY MAKES SENSE. Essentially this article from The Economist is saying that some people near the bottom are worried that if our nation’s economic inequality were improved somehow, those now at the bottom might match or surpass those just above them. And those people would rather see the rich get even richer than see people in a lower economic class move up to their level or beyond:
Instead of opposing redistribution because people expect to make it to the top of the economic ladder, the authors of the new paper argue that people don’t like to be at the bottom. One paradoxical consequence of this “last-place aversion” is that some poor people may be vociferously opposed to the kinds of policies that would actually raise their own income a bit but that might also push those who are poorer than them into comparable or higher positions…
In keeping with the notion of “last-place aversion”, the people who were a spot away from the bottom were the most likely to give the money to the person above them: rewarding the “rich” but ensuring that someone remained poorer than themselves. Those not at risk of becoming the poorest did not seem to mind falling a notch in the distribution of income nearly as much. This idea is backed up by survey data from America collected by Pew, a polling company: those who earned just a bit more than the minimum wage were the most resistant to increasing it.
Poverty may be miserable. But being able to feel a bit better-off than someone else makes it a bit more bearable.
That kind of psychology is probably impossible to overcome — especially when combined with religious and political ideology. It reminds me of something Robert Reich called The Republican Strategy, which is, in part:
The Republican strategy is to split the vast middle and working class – pitting unionized workers against non-unionized, public-sector workers against non-public, older workers within sight of Medicare and Social Security against younger workers who don’t believe these programs will be there for them, and the poor against the working middle class.
By splitting working America along these lines, Republicans hope to deflect attention from the big story. That’s the increasing share of total income and wealth going to the richest 1 percent while the jobs and wages of everyone else languish.
This “Republican Strategy” is exactly what we’ve been dealing with for at least three decades — and especially now from the rank and file Teaparty base and their continued support of extending tax cuts for the wealthy, in opposition to their own self-interests.
- Income Inequality, mid-2000s: out of 17 countries, USA rates #17
- When there are no good jobs left in America, there will be no middle-class
- The truth about the economy in 2 minutes, by Robert Reich
- Yes, it really is the Bush tax cuts. Yes, that has contributed to the deficit and income inequality in America.
- Spending CUTS do not create jobs
- CEOs vs. the rest of us: Trickle up
- Have you seen “The Company Men”?
- The American Dream: we’ve gone from ‘prosperity for all’ to ‘the rich takes all’
- The growing income gap, stalled economic growth, and financial deregulation
- Mother Jones: It’s the Inequality, Stupid