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In a nation that has prided itself on the “American Dream” – that anyone can become wealthy if they work hard enough and make the right decisions – it’s probably a shock to learn that a lot of folks no longer believe in capitalism.

But the shock goes even deeper than that. A report from the Cato Institute that examined Americans’ opinions on wealth and the wealthy says that 47% of American socialists believe that  “taking violent action against the rich may be justified.”

About the report

The Cato Institute is a think tank that performs independent, non-partisan research into a wide range of issues related to personal liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace. You can learn more about the Cato Institute here.

The new report is entitled What Americans Think About Poverty, Wealth, and Work.

The survey…investigates attitudes toward the rich and the poor and examines what Americans believe about work, welfare, and social mobility. (source)

Many of the results seem to be right down party lines and in this political climate, are frighteningly predictable.

Let’s take a look at the findings.

Socialism vs. Capitalism

Opinions have taken a shift since 2016.

In 2016, Democrats were about as favorable toward capitalism (58%) as socialism (56%). But after President Donald Trump took office, Democrats became more favorable toward socialism. Today, 64% of Democrats have favorable opinions of socialism and 45% are favorable to capitalism. Republicans continue to have overwhelmingly favorable views of capitalism (77%) while only 13% have favorable views of socialism. (source)

Why did this shift occur?

According to half of the Democrats surveyed, President Trump caused them to dislike capitalism and lean more toward socialism.

At the same time, 44% of Democrats say that Trump has not influenced their views on capitalism vs. socialism. 72% of independents and 64% of Republicans reported that President Trump has not influenced their views on the economic model.

Overall, 59% of Americans favor capitalism and 39% favor Socialism.

Thoughts on Wealth

Opinions on wealth were varied. Here were some of the findings:

84% of Americans believe “there is nothing wrong with a person trying to make as much money as they honestly can.”

  • 61% want to raise taxes on anyone who makes more than $200,000.
  • 53% want to raise taxes to a whopping 70% on those who make more than $10 million.
  • 65% of Americans over age 60 oppose the increased tax on people making more than $10 million, while 62% of those under 30 support the increase.

A worryingly slim majority of Americans do not believe that wealth should be redistributed from the rich to the poor.

  • 62% oppose the redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. (Where do they intend for that 70% millionaire tax to go?)
  • Down party lines, here’s who believes in wealth distribution: 58% of Democrats, 36% of Independents, and 15% of Republicans think that money should be taken from the rich and given to the poor.



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