Both Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders built their campaigns on the notion that the economic system is rigged against average folks.
It wasn’t entirely clear what they meant by the assertion, but a new poll by the public radio business program “Marketplace” indicates that a majority of the public agrees.
In response to the statement, “The economic system in the U.S. is rigged in favor of certain groups,” 62.4 percent agreed. Only 34.5 percent said, “The economic system in the U.S. is fair to all Americans.”
Of the 62.4 percent who think the U.S. economic system is rigged, 91.3 percent think it favors “the rich,” which means that about 56 percent of all respondents agree.
Perhaps helping to explain Trump’s recent attack on Hillary Clinton’s relationship with international bankers, 84.4 percent think the system “Favors banks and bank executives.”
And the poll indicates the public has an equally unfavorable view of politicians, with 88.5 percent saying the economic system favors politicians.
Interestingly, fewer than half (46.4 percent) think the system is rigged to favor white people, and even fewer think it’s rigged in favor of minorities.
But 85.9 percent think the economic system favors corporations.
It’s a little hard to know what to make of the poll, especially since it isn’t clear what respondents have in mind when they say the system is rigged.
But the results provide an indication as to why Trump and Sanders found large, supportive audiences. And why Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton decided not to release the text of her speeches to Wall Street groups—though Wikileaks partially overrode her non-disclosure efforts.
Ironically, the best way to address the “system is rigged” sentiment is not to impose more taxes, laws and restrictions on corporations, but remove them. Create a low, flat corporate income tax so there is no appearance of using “loopholes.” Get the government out of business and banking—including corporate bailouts.
It’s the government’s constant effort to insert itself in business—creating cozy relationships between the regulators and the regulated— that makes the public suspicious … and angry.