A recent study reveals that millionaires in the Chicago area are concerned about the common good, "as they see it."
Professors Benjamin I. Page and Jason Seawright of Northwestern University, and Larry Bartels of Vanderbilt University, surveyed 83 Chicago millionaires that fall into or near the top one percent of U.S wealth-holders, each with a median wealth of $7.5 million.
The majority of those surveyed engage in civic volunteering and make significant contributions to charities, the study found. Most are also active in politics, half reporting contact with high level politicians in the past year and two-thirds contributing an average of $4,633 to 2012 presidential election.
The study disclosed the wealthy agree with most Americans about the general shape of problems facing the country, but disagree with which problems are important and how they should be addressed.
According to the report, Chicago millionaires are:
- Favorable towards cutting social welfare programs such as Social Security and health care
- More concerned about budget deficits
- Less supportive of an above-poverty-level minimum wage
- Less willing to provide broad education opportunities, "making sure that everyone who wants to go to college can do so"
- Less willing to pay more taxes to provide health coverage for everyone
- Less favorable to increasing government regulation of Wall Street firms, the health care industry, small business, and especially big corporations
The wealthy favor lower estate tax rates and are less eager to increase income taxes on high-income people. They also don’t believe the government should provide jobs for those who can’t find them themselves.
However, the survey also found that 86 percent were aware that the difference between the rich and the poor has increased over the past 20 years. More than half of the respondents don’t accept the belief that large differences in income are necessary for American’s prosperity. They also said that although they don’t favor government-engineered redistribution, the "difference in income in America are too large."
Almost 100 percent of the respondents favor vocational education and a college track being available in high school. Nine out of 10 respondents support the idea of merit pay for teachers and support charter schools.
While the wealthy tend to agree with the public regarding our nation’s problem, the study states that if the wealthy pursue their own policies in solving these problems and the wealthy "generally get their way”, possibly explaining some "puzzling features" in U.S politics today.