Does poverty cause conservatism?

A University of Tennessee study, reported at phys.org among other places, finds that, when incomes are more concentrated, people are more likely to say they oppose governmental redistribution of income.  This decidedly includes low-income people.  Why would low-income people oppose redistribution of income?

It might be because they’re too busy with survival to pay much attention to the question.  Or, having been screwed by the powers-that-be, they assume any redistribution will be away from them, toward those already in control.  Might even be that they are “free-market” types who expect to make a better living in the absence of government interference. I really have no idea.

I’ve only seen the news report, the actual paper seems to be behind a paywall, so there’s a lot of detail left unspecified. Such as whether “redistribution” is defined to include the current pattern of redistribution from those who work to  those who manipulate, what specific surveys were analyzed, and how the matter of sequence (Does public support for redistribution cause redistributive programs to be expanded?) was handled.

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One Response to “Does poverty cause conservatism?”

  1. Chuck says:

    I haven’t read the UT study, but I have noticed that in a recession when selling redistribution might have been considered a “slam dunk” many people didn’t buy it.

    I think it shows two things…

    1) I think Americans do not trust the government to make things better when the do much of anything. There’s a fear that everything will become inhumane and ultimately worse once there is more government control. I tend to agree that’s why I’m interested in Georgism and Distributism.

    2) Americans by and large do believe in hard work and the “free market” and basically believe still in the possibility of the Horatio Alger narrative despite the knowledge also that “something isn’t working”(!!!!). That’s why Americans underestimate disparities of wealth as they exist right now, but know they want something much more equally distributed and pick theoretical distributions of wealth that more closely resemble Sweden.

    This should open the door to a number of “Third Way” options…if they can be “threaded” in such a way as to emphasize that they are an option that protects initiative while protecting people from cost shifting from corporations to the tax payer.

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