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Michael Medved: Contrasting Views On Wealth And Poverty

A Pew Research study shows sharp contrasts between Republicans and Democrats in attitudes toward wealth and poverty. By more than three-to-one, Republicans say hard work, rather than a person’s advantages, explains why people are rich.

Among Democrats, only 29 percent agree about the value of hard work, while 60 percent say financial success comes from “advantages in life.” In explaining poverty, 56 percent of Republicans cite “lack of effort” but only 19 percent of Democrats agree with them.

Surprisingly, ideology has more influence on attitudes toward wealth and poverty than does current economic status. Nearly a third of low-income respondents admit “lack of effort” explains poverty, while 37 percent of high earners see their good fortune as based on undeserved “advantages in life.”

These results suggest that our approaches toward rich and poor stem more from world-view, values and inclination—rather than current standing or personal experience.