Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fun With Polls

There's a new CBS/NYT poll out today, and there are some interesting numbers. Here are a few questions:

4. What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?
  • Health Care 13%
  • Economy 25%
  • Jobs 27%
  • War 3%
  • Deficit 4%

Sad, but true. One of the biggest reasons we have a cratering economy and massive job losses is because we are constantly fighting needless and insanely expensive wars. And yet only 3% of Americans believe this is the most important issue facing our country. 

On the bright side, only 4% think the deficit is the biggest problem, which is surprisingly low given how the bondholder interests have been trying to scare everyone to death with deficit horror stories.

12. Do you think most members of Congress have done a good enough job to deserve re- election, or do you think it's time to give new people a chance?
  • Deserve Re-election: 8%
  • Time for new people: 81%

Far be it from me to defend Congress, but let me make two points. First, there are a good number of excellent congressmen who are committed to serving the public good (Alan Grayson and Bernie Sanders spring to mind.) They aren't all bad. But all of the Republicans are terrible (yes, every single one!), and a good number of Democrats are pretty worthless as well. 

Secondly, the new people will be just as bad. The problem isn't just the congressmen, per se. The ones we need to get rid of are pretty much just empty suits anyway, whose votes are bought by corporations or some other special interest whose interest isn't the public good. 

Also, 81% of Americans think that we need a new Congress, and yet around 90% of congressmen will be reelected. Go figure.

26. How much of the time do you think you can trust the government in Washington to do what is right -- just about always, most of the time, or only some of the time? 
  • Some of the Time     74% 
  • Most of the Time      16%
  • Always                      3%
  • Never                         7%

These answers are right at the intersection of sadness and reality. Since people had a choice of answering "most of the time", one has to assume that "some of the time" is somewhere between say, two thirds and zero. Does this mean that 74% of people think the government will do the right thing about 1/3 of the time? They're probably right.*

The 7% who answered "never" obviously haven't heard of the broken clock theory. But what is absolutely shocking is that 3% of people believe that Washington does the right thing every single time. Who are those people? And are they hiring?

30. Would you say the government is pretty much run by a few big interests looking out for themselves, or that it is run for the benefit of all the people? 
  • Few big interests 78%
  • All people           18%

I guess no one really believes in "government of, for, and by the people" anymore, do they?

*This doesn't mean that government can't do anything right. It means that government won't do anything right. There is a big difference. Overall, the bureaucracies that everyone loves to hate do a pretty good job with the resources they have. Our government agenncies are relatively competent. It's the political part of our government that is completely dysfunctional.

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