In 1979 and 1992, Roper surveys asked people if they thought various statements about millionaires were "generally true or generally untrue." The statements ranked from most to least agreement (in 1992):
>They use their wealth mostly to protect their own positions in society
>They favor the Republicans over the Democrats
>They don't pay their fair share of taxes
>They are politically conservative
>Their investments create jobs and help provide prosperity
>Their spending gives employment to a lot of people
*They make illegal contributions to political campaigns
*They contribute generously to charitable causes
*They worked hard to earn the wealth they have
*They got where they are by exploiting other people
They play too much and work too little
They feel a responsibility to society because of the wealth they have
They are responsible for many of society's ills
They keep the common man from having his proper share of the wealth
They really live no differently from most people, except that they have more money
For the ones marked with a >, more than 50% said that they were generally true; for the ones marked with a *, more people said they were generally true than generally untrue (there were quite a few "don't knows" for most questions).
People are pretty positive about the economic contributions of millionaires (most people say that they provide prosperity and give employment, and most disagree that they keep the common man from getting his share). Opinions on their personal qualities and social contributions are more mixed: for example, the numbers agreeing that they worked hard to earn their wealth and that they got where they are by exploiting others are almost equal.
In a future post, I'll consider changes in these opinions between 1979 and 1992.