According to a recent Gallup poll, Most Americans think that the United States benefits from having a rich class of people:
Despite the rise in inequality and recent movements highlighting said rise, the broad views of Americans do not appear to have changed. A shift towards a radically egalitarian society is probably not in the cards anytime soon. Not only do a majority of Americans like having a rich class, a majority of non-rich Americans also want to be rich, and a surprisingly high number of younger, non-rich Americans think that it is likely they will:
My takeaway from this is the same one Andrew Khout wrote about a few months ago. The rising frustrations with inequality and beliefs about unfairness do not — as of yet at least — indicate any real shift in public values. While many Americans seem to object to specific features of the system as it presently stands, they want a more fair and less corrupted version of it, not to do away with it altogether.
So while a large number of Americans view the positions of the rich as ill-gotten, they are not interested in the sort of egalitarian leveling that some — myself included — support. Instead, they prefer maintaining income inequality, and making the competition for higher-income spots more fair.
This sort of data is doubtlessly why politicians and pundits talk only about equal opportunity and never about egalitarian outcomes. I am not sure whether they are responding to public opinion or whether public opinion is responding to them, but ultimately this general sentiment poses a problem for the achievement of anything other than marginal political and economic improvements. So long as most people labor under the delusion that enormous levels of inequality are both justifiable and compatible with equal opportunity, very little will be accomplished in the direction of economic justice.