The idea of raising taxes on anyone, even the obscenely wealthy who can most afford it, has been politically taboo for years, thanks to the dominance of junk ideas like "trickle-down economics." But apparently, outside of the world of pundits, politicians, and the super-rich, it's not that appalling a notion. Ever since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reminded people that the top tax bracket in this country used to be as high as 70 percent for decades—a period during which there was still economic growth and rich people—more and more polls are showing that Americans across the political spectrum are in favor of returning to that norm.
It turns out that even Fox News can't find a way to hijack those numbers. The network's own polls, conducted at the end of January, found a staggering 70 percent of respondents supported raising taxes on annual income over $10 million. In fact, 65 percent were down for raising taxes on those making over $1 million per year.
On Tuesday, a pair of baffled anchors referred to this trend as a movement "against capitalism." It is a dubious assertion, because by that definition the U.S. has only been a capitalist country since the 1980s, when Reagan knocked the top tax rate even lower and conservatives convinced enough legislators that "a rising tide lifts all boats" was a substitute for economic policy. But in their efforts to find an explanation for why so many people are turned off by unfettered, unregulated, and unaccountable capitalism, they turn to Charles Payne of Fox News Business. His explanation: Schools have brainwashed kids with lessons about "fairness."
In Payne's view, these deluded kids who were taught that fairness was important are now all grown up and voting. The counterargument—that the generation that grew up in the worst economic recession in decades, that is saddled with crippling student debt on a previously unheard-of scale, and that faces dramatically less economic opportunity than their parents would have a very natural and understandable aversion to policies that let the already rich hoard even more money—seems not to have occurred to him.
Blaming the abstract concept of "fairness" may seem like a reach, but it's not unprecedented in right-wing media. In last year's Mr. Rogers documentary, Won't You Be My Neighbor?, Fox News makes an unexpected cameo in a segment about conservative backlash to Rogers' show, when anchors complained that Rogers' recurring theme that "everyone is special" was inconsistent with American ideals that hold that people have to earn their value. If Fox News sees this kind of thinking—that "fairness" corrupts children's brains and kids are only worth as much as someone is willing to pay them—as the happy byproduct of capitalism, maybe they should be less surprised that young people are over it.