We interrupt our normal apolitical topics to comment on something I heard during my trip… a friend mentioned a study that revealed that the top 10% earners in America were convinced that they belong to the top 1%.
Simple enough on the face of it, but this little statistic wheedled into my brain like a bad pop song. Since my political awakening on the staff of the Generation at SUNY Buffalo, I’ve been stumped by the refusal of my compatriots to even consider topics like unemployment, education or health insurance as political. I could never understand why so many people who would obviously benefit from health care would be so emotionally opposed to it.
Finally, this 10-to-1 statistic resonates with a possible explanation. After all, if the top 10% earners believe that they are among the top 1%, then it’s likely that a substantial portion of the population believes they are among the top 10%, as would a disproportionate majority count themselves among the top half of the country’s earners. That rings of truth in a country where opinion places you solidly among either winners or losers, responsible for your own fate. And perverse for a country leading the western world in the divide between wealthy and poor.
If anyone knows where that statistic comes from, please let me know. I’d love to follow this up, but haven’t had any luck searching for references.