An unfortunate but commonly prevailing stereotype of the rich is that they’re a self-centered elitist group, unconcerned for the majority of individuals on earth who can’t afford the same freedoms as they have. But nothing is so black and white and we know that there do indeed exist extremely affluent individuals who, apart from possessing the winning qualities of entrepreneurship and ingenuity, have a strong sense of generosity. Bill Gates has donated $28 billion of his fortune to charity and famed author J.K. Rowling lost her status as a billionaire because she donated so much of her earnings to charity.
That’s not to say that it’s characteristic of the rich to share their wealth – we note the notorious wealth inequality that exists around the world, recognizing the slim percentage of individuals who are wealthy compared to the growing majority of those who live in poverty. The United States make up only 5 percent of the world’s total population but America has the highest share of global wealth as home to 45% of the world’s wealthiest people.
When it comes to politics, Americans are profoundly split between two historically conflicting parties—Republicans and Democrats—and for the most part, we tend to associate the former with wealthier Americans, while the latter is traditionally seen as supporting the more pressing concerns surrounding social and income inequality that apply more to the middle and lower classes. Despite the amount of money an individual earns, their political views doubtlessly affect how they reflect on their own success and the state of their nation.
Questions surrounding how demographics view politics lend voice to the attitudes surrounding the social and economic life of a country. We often hear of the more heated opinions of those seemingly most impacted by the decisions debated and settled in Congress, but do the rich really care about what happens to the rest of us? CNBC — an American news television network — conducted a poll of 541 individuals with investable assets of at least 1 million dollars, who thus represent the top 8 percent of American households in terms of wealth.
Among many insights, the poll revealed that millionaires in America are just as torn between parties as the rest of US citizens when it comes to political affiliation. Their study also reveals, even if only preliminarily, how American millionaires view the politics of their nation and also what they consider their role to be in the whole state of affairs. Under this light, we can consider CNBC’s poll as a microcosm of the bigger picture of how the rich view politics, or perhaps more specifically, how political affiliation shapes the way we view society and what it takes to reach success.
The following list conceptualizes CNBC’s findings to reflect 5 ways the rich view politics in America.
5. They support higher taxes
According to CNBC’s poll, millionaires predominantly support higher taxes and over half of those surveyed consider income inequality to be a pressing issue that needs to be addressed. Two-thirds of the 541 millionaires surveyed support raising taxes to help close the income gap. In other words, they largely support the notion to “tax the rich”. But to specify: 78 percent of Democratic millionaires support higher taxes on the rich to reduce income inequality and 77 percent support raising the minimum wage. The numbers fall shorter for Republican millionaires; only 31 percent support higher taxes on the rich and 38 percent support raising the minimum wage.
4. They don’t believe race, class, or creed can stop one from success
A whopping 94 percent of millionaires and multimillionaires surveyed believe in the American dream where one can achieve “prosperity and upward mobility through hard work” regardless of who you are or where you were born. 61 percent of multimillionaires considered the American dream as primarily material while 18 percent believe it to be “spiritual and temporal happiness more than material goods”. Over half of all those surveyed believe that anyone can become wealthy if they try hard enough. Two-thirds of Republican millionaires surveyed believe that success is attainable for anyone, while only a quarter of Democratic millionaires held this belief. When statistics show that every 1 in 3 African-American males and 1 in 6 Latino males born today will go to prison in their lifetime, it seems that the Democrats are more in touch with reality on this point.
3. They value hard work as the key to wealth
Much in the American tradition of ‘hard work pays off’, 63 percent of Republican millionaires polled felt that their hard work is the reason they’re wealthy. 45 percent of Democrats consider an individual’s upbringing and place of birth as definitive of financial success. 21 percent of all millionaires attributed their financial success to smart investing and 18 percent placed significance on saving. (20 percent of male millionaires believed saving was a strong contributing factor to their affluence compared to 14 percent of women.) Only 10 percent of all those surveyed placed significance on education. Luck, unfortunately for the majority of us trying to strike it rich, was considered by only 1 percent of the millionaires as the source of their riches.
2. They believe increasing educational opportunities will help reduce inequality
When asked, “What should be done to lessen the inequality of wealth in the US?” 83 percent of millionaires felt that increasing educational opportunities for the disadvantaged is the best way to combat inequality. 78 percent of those polled agreed that the wealthy have better access to education. 64 percent of millionaires believe that “enhancing saving incentives and opportunities for the less wealthy” is also a strong start.
1. Rich Democrats care more about social justice than rich Republicans
86 percent of Democratic millionaires consider inequality to be a problem while only 20 percent of Republican millionaires polled feel the same. But 81 percent of all those surveyed said they didn’t feel their wealth contributes to inequality under the conviction that they “earned it”. Too much of something isn’t always enough; only 5 percent of all millionaires polled feel a tad guilty about having so much money.