Rainer Zitelmann argues in a Washington Examiner column against one of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden‘s campaign tactics.

As attention shifts to economic recovery this summer, Joe Biden and the Left will ramp up their rhetorical attacks on wealthy individuals. But will this perennial tactic be effective?

How people feel about the rich depends above all on how envious they are. For envious people, the rich are primarily scapegoats they can pin the blame on for all manner of crises. For people who experience little or no envy, on the other hand, the rich are role models. This is one of the key findings of a representative survey of 1,084 people in the United States conducted by Ipsos MORI, just published by the Cato Institute in my new book, The Rich in Public Opinion.

The study employed a very narrow definition of envy. Accordingly, envy is not primarily driven by an aspiration to improve one’s own position, but by a desire to make life worse for the rich. Based on the answers to a series of envy-related questions, the study finds that about half of the country experiences little or no social envy, while 1 in 5 people is very envious.

The survey’s respondents were presented with a list of personality traits and asked, “Which, if any, of the following are most likely to apply to rich people?”

Their responses varied significantly, depending on how envious they are. For example, 60% of enviers but only 20% of non-enviers say that rich people are greedy. …

… Another of the study’s findings: Non-envious people commonly see rich people, and especially the self-made rich, as role models. Enviers, on the other hand, have a strong tendency to regard the rich as scapegoats, blaming the rich, who want more and more power, for many of the world’s problems, such as financial and humanitarian crises.

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