American beliefs about inequality are profoundly political in their origins and implications. Well-informed conservatives and liberals differ markedly, not only in their normative assessments of increasing inequality, as one might expect, but also in their perceptions of the causes, extent, and consequences of inequality. This is not simply a matter of people with different values drawing different conclusions from a set of agreed-upon facts. Analysts of public opinion in the realm of inequality--as in many other realms--would do well to recognize that the facts themselves are very much subject to ideological dispute. For their part, political actors in the realm of inequality--as in many other realms--would do well to recognize that careful logical arguments running from factual premises to policy conclusions are unlikely to persuade people who are ideologically motivated to distort or deny the facts. While it is certainly true, as Jennifer Hoschschild has argued, that "Where You Stand Depends on What You See," it is equally true that what you see depends in significant part on where you stand.Or more succinctly from "The Boxer" by Paul Simon:
I have squandered my resistance
for a pocketful of mumbles,
such are promises,
all lies and jest,
still a man hears what he wants to hear
and disregards the rest.