So The two richest people in the U.S. Gates and Buffet were not among the richest people in the 70's. In the post industrial period we continue to see a shrinking of the middle class, while the top 1% has a bigger slice of the pie. Look at who our economy rewards people. If you come up with an idea like facebook or Groupon you can become a billionaire. If you can hit a golf ball 300 yards like tiger you can make 100 million dollars a year. That is in our economy you can impact more people than ever before such as the examples above. However if you can shovel snow you are limited to the amount of driveways to can shovel before you get tired. You also compete with everyone who has the skills to shovel a driveway, including those who do it for themselves, and pay zero.
So it is not the fact that there are haves and have nots. The government taxes at about the same rate of GDP as our historical average. We are spending well in excess of that average. We also know that the tax system has changed over the last fourty years so that now many more people pay zero federal taxes. So it would seem that there is more spending for lesser income people, and on average the higher income folks are paying an increased percent of GDP as there are more people paying zero.
Perhaps a better question is what is the proper amount of income redistribution downward versus the silly question of which way does redistribution flow.