On this Sunday's Meet the Press, conservative columnist Kathleen Parker thought that a recent poll by Gallup was very "interesting" and something to watch, which naturally fed right into the meme that our beltway Villagers love to espouse, which is that Americans really aren't that concerned about income disparity and have bought into that talking point we constantly hear out of the right wing, that "big government" is the source of all of our problems and something to be more concerned about, rather than whether CEO pay is out of control with executives making hundreds of times more money than their average employee.
Parker seemed to be parroting much of what was written by Washington Post columnist Charles Lane, who recently poo-pooed President's Obama's talk about income disparity as "overly simplistic" and who wrote this about the recent Gallup Poll:
In a Dec. 16 Gallup poll, 52 percent of Americans called the rich-poor gap “an acceptable part of our economic system.” Only 45 percent said it “needs to be fixed.” This is the precise opposite of what Gallup found in 1998, the last time it asked the question, when 52 percent wanted to “fix” inequality. [...]
The American public intuitively shares Okun’s concerns. Consider the responses to another question in the Gallup poll. Asked to rate the importance of alternative federal policies, the public saw both economic growth and redistribution as worthy objectives — but put the former well ahead of the latter. Some 82 percent said growth was either “extremely” or “very” important; only 46 percent said “reduc[ing] the income and wealth gap between rich and poor” was “extremely” or “very” important.
In short, the public wants fairness but retains a healthy skepticism about the federal government’s ability to achieve it.
As such, Gallup’s numbers do not bode well for President Obama’s effort, launched in a Dec. 6 speech at Osawatomie, Kan., to win reelection as a soak-the-rich populist.
I would argue in response to both Parker's statements on Meet the Press and to that Washington Post op-ed, both the way you frame a question matters, along with whether you're dealing with an informed electorate, and you'd better consider both before you go dismissing the real concerns from those who are paying attention to what's going on in America and what needs to be done to fix it.
If you simply ask someone whether you "should reduce the income gap between the rich and the poor" as Gallup did and you don't give those people any numbers as to how horribly income disparity has become worse over the last few decades at the same time, you're assuming they've had time to follow the issue. I'd love to see what those poll results would look like if say, they'd been given the information in this post by Jon Perr first, and then asked to respond.
Sadly what that poll by Gallup likely shows is just how many people they canvassed don't actually follow the issues and aren't aware of just how terribly the income disparity in America is out of whack and the fact that if they watch our corporate media, they're often overwhelmed with a barrage of right wing pundits and politicians blaming "big government" for all of our woes.
Heaven forbid we could have a Christmas holiday go by without someone on Meet the Press doing their best to invalidate the concerns of the Occupy Wall Street movement and those of everyday Americans who are getting hammered in our current system by the Scrooges out there who no longer care about America or their fellow citizens, but a race to the bottom on wages and a race to the top with just how much the upper one percent can line their pockets with.
Transcript below the fold.
GREGORY: So we talk about the, the keys to 2012 and the presidential campaign is going to be a huge factor. Is this conversation happening in the course of the campaign?
PARKER: Absolutely. But I do want to say one thing. You know, the, the, the damage to the middle class is real. You can't argue with statistics of people who've lost their homes and the pain they feel from that, the lack of good jobs for people. But there's a new--there's new-- you know, a new report came out recently from Gallup that, that had some very interesting statistics and that--one of them was that while we talk about income equality and the president is certainly advancing that narrative, the American people really don't see it that way. The majority does not feel that income equality is the big problem that it's being advanced as. And the other thing, the other kind of interesting thing that may influence how the election goes, the general election, specifically, is that Democrats, more Democrats think that big government is the problem. Suddenly, they're seeing government as the problem rather than Republicans. So that's just an interesting thing to watch.
About the only thing I find "interesting" about that poll is just how horribly misinformed those who responded to it must be by the likes of of our corporate media and potentially of pundits like Kathleen Parker and David Gregory or their cohorts across the spectrum, whether it be our corporate media, right wing blogs and publications, or right wing hate radio. The majority of those they polled sure as hell aren't reading left leaning publications or blogs or listening to progressive talk, or they'd know how what a serious issue income disparity is in the United States right now and that the government, through progressive taxation where the upper one percent are asked to pay their fair share, has a means to fix it.
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