When It Comes To Dealing With Our Fiscal Problems, The Public Is Stupid

The Gallup poll regarding public sector unions that I wrote about earlier has another little tidbit in it:

• 71% oppose increasing sales, income or other taxes while 27% are in favor that approach.
• 53% oppose reducing pay or benefits for government workers while 44% are in favor.
• 48% opposed reducing or eliminating government programs while 47% were in favor of cuts.

Despite the opposition to reducing spending or raising taxes, those surveyed agreed overwhelmingly that their state faces a budget crisis. Sixty-four percent said their state was in financial crisis while only 5% said it wasn’t. The rest were unsure.

I’ll leave you to ponder the logical disconnect here.

Artwork via Wikipedia

FILED UNDER: Deficit and Debt, Public Opinion Polls, Quick Takes, Taxes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Boss Hog says:

    And that is why we need leaders…not poll followers.

  2. JD says:

    +1 for Boss Hog

  3. Jerry M says:

    If the public wasn’t stupid we would not have Obama for President and almost half the country would not think he is doing a good job as President. We have met the enemy and it is us.

  4. Terrye says:

    I saw that poll…and they asked something like do you agree with workers rights being limited…rights?? Really? No one is talking about taking away bargaining rights for pay, the state is dealing with issues like pension plans and health care costs..not to mention the whole crazy idea of the state collecting dues for the unions.

    I also noticed in the poll that at least half of the people do not like the idea of public service unions at all. The other day Clarus polling came out with a poll that stated 64% do not even support public service unions.

    I can only assume that it just depends on how the questions are worded…and generally people are not going to say yes to taking away rights…that is push polling.

  5. @ Boss Hog:

    I know quite a few leaders. One of them was Mike Castle. Forget what you think of his “liberalness”, he was a leader that got shit done. He was primaried by a bunch of loons that want to curb fiscal spending without a clue as to just how to do that.

    Leaders don’t get elected. Sycophants and liars do.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    Jerry:

    Oh? Who is it who sold us on the idea that tax cuts were self-financing, and we didn’t really have to pay for government? That would be the GOP. Your people were the ones peddling mumbo-jumbo and still doing it today. I’ll grant the American people are dumb, but you’re the ones who sold a pack of lies to those dumb-asses –a pack of lies, incidentally, that you probably still believe.

  7. Tano says:

    “No one is talking about taking away bargaining rights for pay,…”

    Actually, that is BS.
    The Wisconsin law would allow unions to bargain for pay only so long as the outcome is not an increase that exceeds the inflation rate. In other words, the sole allowable function for a union would be to try to negotiate to prevent workers pay from eroding relative to inflation.

    And of course, there are also provisions that would undermine their existence – like forced elections every year to remain certified, or opt-outs on dues paying.

    “…and generally people are not going to say yes to taking away rights…that is push polling.’

    Ah, no. Its regular people seeing through the charade that this bill represents. Unions manage to negotiate responsible agreements with governments and with businesses every day. Including agreements that center on deep and painful cuts, if that is what is truly necessary. It happens every day. This is a blatant attempt to destroy the union, not a sincere effort to balance a budget.

  8. Sirkowski says:

    Or maybe it’s you who’s stupid.
    And a douche.

  9. Terrye says:

    Tano:

    Really? It was regular people who put those Republicans in office in the first place…and believe it or not, asking employees not to ask for pay increases that exceed the inflation rate is not unreasonable..considering the fact that the tax payer is picking up the tab.

  10. michael reynolds says:

    Terrye:

    What if work rules or conditions change? What if, theoretically, we doubled a teacher’s workday? They still would have no right to ask for a raise beyond inflation?

  11. MM says:

    And this is why nothing substantive will be done in Washington to curb spending. People don;t want to see additional spending, they don;t know what they want cut and aside from foreign aid, anything suggested to the public is wildly unpopular.

    Politicians know this, which is why they talk about “eliminating waste, fraud and abuse” instead of saying things like “We’re going to phase out 1/3 of defense spending iover the next 10 years, repeal medicare Part D, Reduce the DEA by 2/3 and eliminate the cap on FICA.” These would be wildly unpopular and would leave the candidate vulnerable to the next guy who says we can double defense spending, cut taxes and reduce the deficit by getting rid of “welfare”. I keep hearing that we need to have an adult conversation, yet the closest thing we get are the people sitting behind desks in DC getting paid 6 to 7 figures to write Op-Eds telling the guy who lays their tile that he just needs to work later in life.

    Oh and “Of course the public is dumb, they voted for Obama! Haw! Haw!”

  12. John Peabody says:

    As for me, I Go Pogo.

  13. Matt B says:

    This is exactly why and where "rational choice" fails. Given the amount of this country that has learned to live carrying a significant amount of debt (not just consumer, there's also housing, etc) people see the crisis in largely abstract terms. They know it's bad. But a national (or even state) default… Can anyone realistically describe what that looks like?
    However, the shutting down of parks, school, inability to buy food, curtailing the hours of the DMV and other government offices that you need to semi-regularly access… that is people's lived experience. So is the decreased spending that comes with taxes.
    It isn't supidy. Neither was "We don't want Socialism and keep your hands off my Medicare." From the perspectives of those people, this makes total sense.
    The sooner we get beyond expecting that people are going to be consistent, rational actors, again, the closer we get towards a real solution.
    (ps. the extended comment options are a little overkill)

  14. An Interested Party says:

    "If the public wasn’t stupid we would not have Obama for President and almost half the country would not think he is doing a good job as President. We have met the enemy and it is us."
     """And did you feel the same way when Bush was president and flying high in the polls?  Or did the public suddenly become stupid within the past few years…

  15. William Teach says:

    Hmm, so, since you obviously prefer tax increases due to stupidity by elected officials (yes, the GOP is somewhat responsible), Doug, you've been sending extra money to the IRS, right? Practice what you preach. Or, are you using the liberal model, where Someone Else's taxes should be raised?

  16. Tlaloc says:

    • 71% oppose increasing sales, income or other taxes while 27% are in favor that approach.
    • 53% oppose reducing pay or benefits for government workers while 44% are in favor.
    • 48% opposed reducing or eliminating government programs while 47% were in favor of cuts.
    Despite the opposition to reducing spending or raising taxes, those surveyed agreed overwhelmingly that their state faces a budget crisis. Sixty-four percent said their state was in financial crisis while only 5% said it wasn’t. The rest were unsure.
     

    This really isn't as contradictory as it seems.  64% think the budget is in crisis, some of them favor more taxes, some favor cutting spending.  There's some overlap so that some favor both (but not many).  The result is that on each individual question each method gets less than a plurality even as the question of whether something must be done is answered in a majority.
    Think about it this way you have four people in a car.  All of them want to get something to eat.  One person wants thai, one mexican, one fast food, and one french.  Ask the "do you want x food" and you'll always get at least 75% opposed even though the group is 100% in favor of food in general.

  17. An Interested Party says:

    "Hmm, so, since you obviously prefer tax increases due to stupidity by elected officials (yes, the GOP is somewhat responsible), Doug, you've been sending extra money to the IRS, right? Practice what you preach. Or, are you using the liberal model, where Someone Else's taxes should be raised?" 
    This is such a stale argument…the obvious retort is when will all those people who are so damned upset with government spending stop taking money from the goverment, whether it be direct cash payments, health benefits, or any other form of assistance?  Furthermore, if they are so worried about the deficit, they don't have to take the mortgage deduction when they do their taxes…I mean, after all, they do want the budget to be balanced, right?  And one assumes that they want to be intellectually consistent…

  18. Liberty60 says:

    Given that the top 1% of Americans have made out like bandits over the past 20 years, why aren't we asking them to sacrifice along with the rest of us to balance the budget?
     
    Or is sacrifice only for the little people?

  19. michael reynolds says:

    Tlaloc:
     
    Good point and well expressed.
     
    Except that now I really want some Thai curry.  

  20. TG Chicago says:

    Doug, I fear the logical disconnect is yours.

    We’ve got 64% who say there’s a budget crisis. So you would assume that those people would pick at least one of the deficit-reducing measures. And when you look at the numbers (27, 44, and 47%), it’ s quite likely that those people *did* all choose at least one deficit-reducing measure. So where’s the problem?

    I mean, if you can find someone who says there’s a budget problem, but who would prefer not to take any action to solve it, then okay — *that* person is stupid. But you have shown no evidence that a single person who was polled has that view.

    Look at it this way: if the numbers for those supporting the three fixes were 10, 15, and 20, then you could infer that somewhere between 20 and 45 percent of respondents picked at least one deficit-reducing measure. And thus, you could say that between 19 and 44 percent (i.e., 64% minus 20-45%) of the public was being stupid (well, unless they have a preferred budget-reducing measure which wasn’t polled, I guess). But you don’t have that.

    You’re looking at these numbers like they’re “the voice of the people” as one mass, but they’re the assorted voices of many people.

  21. Axel Edgren says:

    Eeeeeeeexcept there is no current correlation between collective bargaining rights being revoked and fiscal health in any US state. 
    Aaaaaaaand fiscal problems are temporary measures but Walker wants them removed permanently even if he gets all other concessions he demanded.
    Sooooooo yeah.