As income inequality has climbed higher and higher in America, government action has stalled. This lack of policy attention persists despite public opinion polls showing a majority of Americans favor some government action to reduce inequality.
Are the wealthy to blame for the lack of action? On the one hand, there is plenty of evidence that the wealthy exert overwhelming influence over politics. At the same time, however, many middle-income and working-class people still oppose government action that could reduce inequality. The power of status quo bias and American attitudes toward individual success also contribute to the lack of government action on inequality.
But that doesn’t explain the whole story. We believe there are two other key factors involved: racial animus and individual difficulty in connecting government action to lived experience.