“There’s a lot of policies that make it easier for the rich to get richer and the poor to go nowhere.”
A poll released this week from Bloomberg found that the ever-increasing gap between rich and poor Americans has begun to have a negative impact on the number of Americans who believe in the American dream — the opportunity to be successful and prosperous if people apply themselves.
The poll, which was conducted from Dec. 6-9, found that 64 percent of Americans now believe that the U.S. is not a place where everyone has an equal chance of success, compared to 33 percent who say it does.
Ryan Sekac, 26, is a mechanical engineer in Rhode Island. He says he is one of the 64 percent who believes the American dream is no longer a possibility, saying “There’s a lot of policies that make it easier for the rich to get richer and the poor to go nowhere.
“Everyone on both sides of the aisle talks about the American dream,” Sekac told Bloomberg. “Right now, that’s not something everyone in this country can aspire to.”
Those respondents who doubted the existence of the American dream also reported that the government isn’t doing much to help lessen the income-gap, and many are OK with that.
While 45 percent of Americans believe the government should enact legislation to narrow the income gap, the other 46 percent say the market should be left alone — even if the income gap widens.
And of those polled, 68 percent reported they believed the income gap is growing, while 10 percent reported it’s shrinking; 18 percent reported it is unchanged.
According to Emmanuel Saez, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, 10 percent of Americans earned more than half of all income in the U.S. last year. He added that the last time there was such a large income disparity was 1917.
Janet Gornick is a political science and sociology professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center. She said that compared to most other nations such as the U.K., Ireland and Spain, the U.S. does little to reduce income inequality through tax and transfer policies, which probably explains why those who were most supportive of the government intervening made less than $50,000 a year.
Albert Marini, 66, a retired information technology manager in Virginia Beach, Va., says that while his family is fortunate and able to provide for themselves, he supports government intervention because not everyone is as fortunate as his family is.
Talking about the increasing income gap, Marini said “If we don’t address it, it’ll just continue to deteriorate, the gap will just continue to get bigger. And who knows what that will lead to in 10 or 15 years? Social unrest? Economic unrest?”
The issue of income inequality has resurfaced in recent weeks as President Obama addressed the issue in a speech last week, saying that current economic trends have jeopardized the existence of the middle class. He added that along with the extinction of the middle class, the thought that ‘if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead,’ goes away as well.