“Some people are vengeful, calling for jail, public humiliation, or even revolution,” the New York Times reported in March, adding to innumerable accounts of outrage at the news that insurance giant A.I.G. planned to use millions of federal bailout dollars for employee bonuses. Punctuated by such anger, the economic crisis has shone a stark light on the growing chasm between America’s haves and have-nots. Striking a timely note of unity, Class War? reveals that both sides of this class divide actually agree to a surprising—and heartening—extent about what government should do to close it.
In fact, Benjamin Page and Lawrence Jacobs argue that at every income level and across geographical and ideological lines, most Americans favor public intervention to narrow the gap between rich and poor and create equal economic opportunities for all. Drawing on more than 70 years of opinion studies, they show that majorities support not only higher minimum wages, improved public education, and greater access to healthcare, but also the use of taxation to fund such programs.
As lawmakers battle over how to heal our ailing economy, Class War? provides undeniable proof of the popular consensus their constituents have been building for decades: that our government must take aggressive action against the iniquity that plagues our nation.
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