Author Essays, Interviews, and Excerpts

Larry Jacobs interviewed about Class War

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The revelation that top executives at companies like AIG — after receiving billions in federal “bailout” money—were given generous bonuses, even as millions of low and middle income Americans were losing their jobs, tends to cast public debate about wage and income disparities in the U.S. in black and white. In the light of much of the media coverage of the current economic crisis, it is easy to see America as a nation split into two opposing groups: uncompromising supporters of unfettered free markets and advocates for government solutions to economic problems. But in their new book Class War?: What Americans Really Think about Economic Inequality Benjamin I. Page and Lawrence R. Jacobs draw on nearly a century’s worth of accumulated polling data to demonstrate that American’s views about class are really much more complex and nuanced than commonly thought.
In a recent interview on Minnesota Public Radio’s midmorning broadcast Jacobs explains that their data reveals a surprising unity in opinion amongst American’s at varying income levels and in both major political parties. According to Jacobs, the majority of Americans in fact embrace a type of conservative egalitarianism — a philosophy that prizes individualism and self-reliance as well as public intervention to help Americans pursue these ideals on a level playing field.
Listen in on the discussion at the Minnesota Public Radio website or find out more about the book on our website, which includes downloadable PDFs containing the survey data files referenced in the book.