March 22, 1999
As the proportion of families owning stocks and mutual funds steadily increases, political rhetoric is changing, say observers. There is less talk of soaking the rich.
According to Richard Nadler of the Cato Institute:
- In 1952, just 4 percent of Americans owned stock -- but more than four in every 10 adult Americans had an ownership stake of one kind or another in corporations by 1997.
- According to a 1997 Federal Reserve study, the percentage of stock-owning families with incomes between $25,000 and $49,000 jumped by almost 50 percent between 1989 and 1995 -- to nearly one in every two.
- Among those making less than $25,000, the increase was even greater.
- Nadler points out that a recent Rasmussen Research survey shows that two-thirds of investors favor a cut in the capital gains tax -- versus only 46 percent of non- investors.
Moreover, support for cutting capital gains rates rises among investors in just about every demographic group -- blacks and whites, women and men, young and old, affluent or not, married and single. Even among more liberal voting groups -- African- Americans, unmarried women and Democrats -- support for soaking the rich declines with the increase in share ownership.
Observers say these trends present an opportunity to try to enlarge the investor class even further -- by expanding Individual Retirement Accounts, cutting capital-gains taxes and crusading for at least the start of individual Social Security accounts.
Source: Paul A. Gigot, "This Isn't What Marx Meant by Das Kapital," Wall Street Journal, March 19, 1999.
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