Redistribution Politics - here's a fascinating series of posts on a practical experiment run by a college professor:
I ask my students how many of them are in favor of progressive redistribution -- taking from those who have a little more and giving it to those who have a little less. About half to 60% of the class stands up (I make them commit to their position by standing up.) I then tell them what I actually was thinking about was the progressive distribution of their grades, taking a few grade points from those who are above the median grade and distributing those extra points to those below the median.... The immediate reaction is that almost all the students sit down, only one or two students actually remain standing or stand up. Assuming that most of them thought I was originally referring to income (or wealth, not the same thing), I then ask them to explain why they were in favor of income/wealth redistribution but not grade distribution.
See also followups on his site, here and here.

My take on it: people treat small, individualized morality as something completely different from morality as applied to large groups. I don't understand why, but there it is. People who would never dream of owning a gun, much less shooting a criminal, expect "society" to do that for them. People who would never dream of ratting out their sister for smoking a little marijuana want even more draconian enforcement of drug laws.

And people who would never dream of stealing their neighbor's stuff, and fencing it for the cash, expect society to tax the neighbor and give them their social security.

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