One of the ideas I’ve heard for understanding the willingness of so many working class people to support policies which operate against their own interest is that following the fable of unlimited opportunity, people believe they will be rich some day. An individual who believes [s]he will be rich may be more likely to acquiesce to policies favoring the rich, particularly if those policies are framed well, such as with fabled ‘tax relief’ that disproportionately favors the wealthy, or ‘welfare reform’ which widen the gaps in the mesh of the social safety net.
The Gallup Poll. Jan. 20-22, 2003. N=1,006 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3 (total sample).
“Looking ahead, how likely is it that you will ever be rich? Would you say it is very likely, somewhat likely, not very likely, or not at all likely?”
% % % % % 1/03 10 21 36 30 2
“Just thinking about your own situation, how much money per year would you need to make in order to consider yourself rich?” Form A (N=502, MoE ± 5)
Median response = $120,000
“Just thinking about your own situation, how much money would you need to have saved up in cash, stocks, real estate and other investments in order to consider yourself rich?” Form B (N=504, MoE ± 5)
Median response = $1,000,000