democracy and the redistribution of wealth

more fun with the world values survey, 2005-2008!:

“Many things may be desirable, but not all of them are essential characteristics of democracy. Please tell me for each of the following things how essential you think it is as a characteristic of democracy. Use this scale where 1 means *not at all an essential characteristic of democracy* and 10 means it definitely is *an essential characteristic of democracy*: Governments tax the rich and subsidize the poor.

here are the percentages of people who answered 10 — government taxing the rich and subsidizing the poor is definitely an essential characteristic of democracy — for each nation:

for a change, i’m glad to see the anglos scoring so low. (^_^) i’m surprised that the scandinavians didn’t score higher; i guess they must simply understand that redistributing wealth, which is something they like to do, just isn’t an essential feature of democracy. the germans, always the over-achievers, score above average though.

in the u.s., more blacks (13.3%) than whites (5.8%) think that the redistribution of wealth is definitely an essential feature of democracy. hispanics are in between (7.0%) (click on table for LARGER view):

same in south africa. many more blacks (31.9%) and coloureds (24.7%) think that the redistribution of wealth is an essential feature of democracy than south african whites (6.9%):

and, what’s up with india?! 72.7% of the population think that the redistribution of wealth is an essential feature of democracy. wow. i did a breakdown by region, and northerners seem to hold this idea more than other regional populations of india, whereas easterners are not as fond of the idea:

what’s up with argentina, for that matter?

previously: dēmos kratos and democracy and civil rights and libyans on democracy: meh

*update 08/14: see also a sense of entitlement and a sense of entitlement ii

(note: comments do not require an email. the redistribution of wealth.)

10 Comments

  1. The redistribution of wealth is not a essential feature of democracy in a healthy prospering nation, in a declining (or third world) nation it becomes the only role of democracy.

    I have come to the conclusion that a democracy is a foolish form of government to have when the government plays any role in the distribution of money. We were designed to be a limited government without career politicians and without voting by those who don’t pay taxes. It started slow but once the government started being “the charity” ….

    Didn’t take long to decline into hell, did it?

    Reply

  2. As with your previous chart, I suspect you would have got very different results for the UK, prior to mass immigration.

    On a small island, with strong regional rivalries and a fairly rigid class system, support for redistribution of wealth would probably be considerably stronger than in a large young country, where the ambitious can simply move around and reinvent themselves.

    I guess another vital component for support for redistribution of wealth would be that, despite the previously mentioned regional rivalries and class distinctions, wealth is being redistributed to people just like you.

    Its about looking after the team. Looking after the tribe.

    But mix everyone up…

    Didn’t that Robert Putnam have something to say about this sort of thing?

    Reply

  3. One other thought on this…

    The question in the UK is less “who is John Galt” but where is George Bailey?

    There was a time in the UK when such things as redistribution of wealth were more George Bailey of Bedford Falls than Ingsoc of Airstrip One.

    Sometimes the thought pops into my head that here in the UK I am living through the sort of alternative reality that the Angel Clarence presented to George Bailey to show what life would have been like if he had never been born. Except in this alternative reality…

    Unfortunately, when you have mass immigration of unrelated peoples into a small space, the George Baileys of this world may as well have never been born.

    Reply

  4. Interesting that some of the most egalitarian societies — Norway, Sweden, Japan — say no. They are also among the most homogeneous ethnically, though recent immigration may be changing that in Scandinavia.

    OTH, the question is misconceived. In the 19th century the wealthy feared universal suffrage because they thought it likely the majority would tax the rich for their own benefit. In other words redistribution was feared as a consequence of democracy, not an essential part of it. That seems about right.

    Most Western democracies do have moderately progressive tax systems but nothing which could remotely described as confiscatory. That may change if our China trade continues to drive income inequality, and probably should if the alternative is protective tariffs: the theory of free trade is that the winners are supposed to compensate the losers to make everyone better off than before. That means, in this case, taxing capital to subsidize labor.

    Making savings tax exempt might pave the way to a more steeply graduated tax system since then you would be taxing consumption not income. Income inequality ceases to be such an issue — in some ways more inequality is better in terms of total revenue raised.

    Reply

  5. @the colonel – “On a small island, with strong regional rivalries and a fairly rigid class system, support for redistribution of wealth would probably be considerably stronger than in a large young country, where the ambitious can simply move around and reinvent themselves.”

    yes, perhaps. but what does the redistribution of wealth got to do with democracy? i can’t see how anyone can think it’s an essential characteristic of democracy. true, the people of a nation might vote for wealth redistribution, but it’s not a facet of a democratic system, per se.

    @the colonel – “I guess another vital component for support for redistribution of wealth would be that, despite the previously mentioned regional rivalries and class distinctions, wealth is being redistributed to people just like you.

    Its about looking after the team. Looking after the tribe.

    But mix everyone up…”

    absolutely! not gonna work then at all.

    Reply

  6. @the colonel – “Sometimes the thought pops into my head that here in the UK I am living through the sort of alternative reality that the Angel Clarence presented to George Bailey to show what life would have been like if he had never been born. Except in this alternative reality…”

    =/

    Reply

  7. @luke – “In other words redistribution was feared as a consequence of democracy, not an essential part of it. That seems about right.”

    exactly!

    @luke – “the theory of free trade is that the winners are supposed to compensate the losers to make everyone better off than before.”

    is it really?

    Reply

  8. @secular x.b. – “Probably the caste system in India. People there really feel inequality.”

    is the caste system more prevelant in northern india? i have no idea. anybody know?

    Reply

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