When can having a positive attitude be a negative thing? What happens when voters prefer to ignore the evidence and continue to vote for the same party despite false promises? It seems as if Americans prefer to be victims of a party of professional grifters.
The idea that opportunity to succeed is open to all of us goes back deep in American history and deep into the soul of the average American. It is one thing that makes the struggle worth it all. Knowing that things will improve has always been a mainstay of life in the US.
The Faith and the Evidence
One recent study suggests that American economic mobility is something most of us still believe in. The problem is, according to the evidence, that belief system is largely contradicted by the evidence.
The Cornell study polled more than 3,300 Americans in all economic quintiles (20 percent income increments), from the poorest to the richest, and reached a few interesting conclusions:
- People believe there is more upward mobility than downward mobility.
- Americans overestimate the amount of upward mobility and underestimate the amount of downward mobility.
- Poorer individuals believe there is more mobility than richer individuals do.
- Political affiliation influences perceptions of economic mobility, with conservatives believing that the economic system is dynamic – with more people moving both up and down.
According to the source:
"This rise in inequality has been accompanied by increasing hardship among those at the bottom," they write, noting that in 2010 the United States had almost 650,000 homeless people. And an additional 9.5 million families (46 million people) lived below the poverty line, a 50 percent increase since 1980.
The implications of the study are fascinating. American by and large simply haven't woken up to the fact that decades of failed policies have made matters worse of the shrinking middle-class. They should be angry- furious, in fact- but they are not.