James Q. Wilson [“Angry about income inequality? Don’t blame the rich,” Outlook, Jan. 29] presented a selective reading of our book “Class War?” and a mistaken view of what Americans think about economic inequality.
True, Americans are not consumed with envy of the wealthy. Most applaud success and hope to achieve it themselves. Some say it is “still possible” (i.e., not impossible) to start out poor, work hard and become rich.
But the number of Americans expressing such optimism fell sharply after 2008, as actual mobility declined. Most Americans think inequality of income and wealth has become too great. Most favor substantially higher taxes on the wealthy.
Our current research on wealthy Americans indicates that the wealthy largely agree. They, too, are concerned about widening inequalities. Most accept the idea of progressive taxation. Most express willingness to pay more taxes to help others with such things as early childhood education.