A survey of Americans confirms that, regardless of political preference, they prefer income and wealth distribution that is close to a utopian idea, even without knowing that their preference is an ideal and is held in common. Americans have more in common than their political debates would suggest. When measured as social mobility, the ability for poor to rise through opportunity and for wealth to redistribute through mechanisms like inheritance, there is great agreement in absolute social mobility. The greater difference is between the preferred social mobility and the actual social mobility. In reality, the poor are more than two times more likely to not move up the socioeconomic ladder. In reality, both liberals and conservatives don’t want the rich to lose their wealth. Unfortunately, the math won’t allow the poor to rise while leaving the rich in place unless the people in the middle are squeezed out. To make progress towards Americans’ preference, something will have to change, and that is where the difficulties arise. Either the imbalance is resolved consciously and soon, or growth in the imbalance will increase instability which can lead to a more traumatic change.
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