Food Stamps for Thought
The latest Bloomberg poll contains a few shocking results. Most responses are of the form a majority (but not a huge majority) agree with Obama and disagree with the Republicans in Congress.
One shocking result is that a big big 6% correctly answer that the Federal budget deficit is decreasing. This beats the old low of 8% in an old poll who correctly answered that taxes for the majority of US families were cut in Obama’s first two years (which beat the 12% who answered correctly in an older poll). Wow. Frankly I usually find polling on public perceptions of fact more interesting than polling on public opinion.
But the results which really shocked me were majority support for reducing Social Security cost of living adjustments
Do you favor or oppose reducing the cost-of-living adjustment that automatically increases the amount of
benefits Social Security pays out to help the program remain financially secure?
9 Not sure
And majority opposition for cutting food stamps
Wait I thought programs for poor people were poor programs. When I read the not too clear article on the poll, I was alarmed at the bit about “scientific research,” but now I think the enthusiasm is based on eagerness to cut the pretty much nonexistent grants for the arts. I’d guess “Grants for scientific research” would be up there with food stamps and “Grants for the arts” would be way past Defence and off the chart.
There are many more amazing facts (did you guess a plurality of US adults were Keynesian ?) so do click the link.
Update: Pew finds a plurality opposed to cutting foreign aid
Forty-eight percent believe that overseas aid for the world’s destitute — a tiny fraction of the overall budget — should be decreased, while 21 percent said it should be increased and 28 percent said it should remain the same.
slap me. I think I’m asleep and dreaming. I never thought I’d live to see the day (of course I never thought I’d see an African American president an don’t even mention gay marriage).
the poll just proves people are listening to limbaugh and beck & not reading slightly left of center blogs…
Yes, people are listening and believing instead of reading and deducing.
i doubt very much that the people even understood the question about Social Security cost of living increases.
the “fact” to keep in mind in any case is that what a poll tells you is how effective your propaganda is being. it tells you nothing about what the people want or need. or would say they want if the other side was better at framing its message.
Polling can be seen as either a scientific art or the artful approach to the science of measuring opinions and ideas. Note that there should be an emphasis on artful. Take the question:
“Do you favor or oppose reducing the cost-of-living adjustment that automatically increases the amount of benefits Social Security pays out to help the program remain financially secure?
9 Not sure
It has two clauses. First,Do you favor or oppose reducing COLA. And next, “to help the program…” The first clause is a statement of intended fact and the second clause is an assumption regarding the effect of the action described in the first clause. It’s like asking someone, If this were to lead to that how would you feel about this? As a poll question it begs the answer. Everyone want to “help the Social Security program and some portion of everone knows that adjustments to COLA are only one way to do so. How would respondnets have answered if the question were posed: Do you favor or oppose adjustments to benefits based on changes in the cost of living? The answers might differ if the question were posed differently than that.
Do you favor or oppose increases in benefits based upon COLA? Or different again if, Do you favor decreasing benefits based upon COLA?
It’s all in how you ask the question. Even the use of the word “to” instead of “inorder to” can effect the answer. The best, most valid, polling would have more than one form of the same question in order to examine possible question bias. Assuming that the pollsters want to examine the inherent bias of a question or the entire poll.
Jack I ageee 100%. Yes the “help the program” part pushed people hard to answer yes. The Pew poll has a solid majority supporting keeping Medicare and Social Security funding the same or increasing it. The difference is way beyond possible sampling effects. It is the result of telling people they better say yes to reduced COLAs or social security will go bankrupt and they get nothing and also the Martians invade and they (the respondents not the Martians) get herpes.
But the part of the poll which struck me was the very strong support for food stamps (and aid to the poor in the USA in the Pew poll). Also the split on Foreign aid since in all other polls I have seen a majority supported cutting it.
I mean foodstamps and foreign aid matter too. The comments are what I would have expected if I had noted only the responses on the social security COLA.
rjs the polls show that people are *not* convinced by Limbaugh or Beck — on almost every issue the majority agrees with Obama and disagrees with Republicans. The other exception is in the Pew poll where on many key questions (cut social security and Medicaare funding and sequester or kick the can down the road) the majority or plurality is clearly to the left of Obama.
Coberly sure polls show whose propaganda is effective. These polls show ours is (except for “preserving” social security and Medicare which I thought were our strongest two issues (closely followed by soak the rich our countrypeople realllly want to soak the rich).
That second poll gets at a distinction I have not seen/heard enough during discussions about cutting defense spending. Specifically, everytime defense cuts are mentioned politicians surround themselves with soldiers, asking ‘how can Washington do this to those who served’, and then those internet memes pop up on facebook feed about cutting DC’s pay before the soldiers, and so on.
What I rarely hear from pundits, and never hear from politicians, is that “Defense programs on weapons and equipment” will be cut. Maybe it’s because it’s more difficult to evoke an emotional response from constituents when talking about how we are allowing politics to toy with the bottom line of Haliburton, Raytheon, and the like? Dunno, but I wish there was greater discourse threshing out the various sub categories of defense spending rather than just lumping them all together–especially when there are special interests involved.
Just a random Friday thought . . .
On foreign aid.
Just about every poll I have seen over the years ends up giving the same result: people would prefer that foreign aid be reduced to a percentage of spending that is in fact many multiples of what is actually being spent.
That sounds odd and is. But some people assume that foreign aid amounts to some 40% of federal spending and would like to reduce it to 10% or less. OOOH, cruel folk. But since the reality is that foreign aid really constitutes 1% or so of federal spending these Hard Hearted Hannahs are actually, if unwittingly, calling for massive increases in humanitarian aid. And this would be even more true if they understood that a lot of what is called ‘foreign aid’ is really just back handed subsidies to the U.S. military industrial complex. Not just in weapons credits but in requirements that food aid be spent on U.S. products and shipped in U.S. hulls (both standard components of the old PL 480 Food for Peace Program that fed India in the 50s). Or that development aid be funneled openly or covertly through American owned firms and largely spent on American staff. Few of whom end up living in conditions typical of your 60s era Peace Corps volunteers.
Between vastly overestimating the share of actual U.S. foreign aid and not understanding how much of that is simply reabsorbed by American companies it is not surprising that people will entertain cutbacks. Because we for God Damn Sure should have been getting a better result for the theoretical amounts we thought we were and are paying. As opposed to the tiny fraction of a fraction that actually hits the ground in the form of goods and services for end users.
Bruce absolutely. I especially strongly endorse your point that, since the median poll repondent in (link needed) overestimated foreing aid by a factor of 40 ( really literally link still needed) that respondent underestimated the efficiency of the effort (by a larger factor I’m sure since they didn’t see the effects).
But mistakes of that magnitude don’t just happen. We have to understand why people have such crazy ideas. I think it because they want to cut foreign aid by a huge amount that they convince themselves that it is a huge program. But I don’t understand. Actually someone could research the subject with, say, interviews.
“When asked in a recent poll how much the U.S. government spends on foreign aid, Americans vastly overestimated the amount — which might explain why politicians look to that area first when considering budget cuts, some analysts say.
The survey, conducted by the WorldPublicOpinion.org project at the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes, asked the question: “What percentage of the federal budget goes to foreign aid?”
The median answer was roughly 25 percent, according to the poll of 848 Americans. In reality, about 1 percent of the budget is allotted to foreign aid.”
Okay 40% was a WEG. But still we are looking 25:1 assumed to actual.
“The respondents also said they thought about 10 percent should go to foreign aid. “There is on the one hand an underlying perception that America’s contribution in the world is greater than it really is, but it also shows a willingness to make a significant contribution,” Ramsay said.”
And 10% was right on. Leading me to believe I was actually relying on a more reliable than normal ‘hazy’ memory.
a somewhat simpler answer is that 99.9% of the public has no idea what “40%” means.
Not even, apparently, the Trustees of Social Security who can print with a straight face that SS faces either a 25% benefit cut or a 33% tax increase…
since the bases of the “per cent” are different, the comparison is meaningless.
what is more meaningful is whether you would rather have a cut of 25% when you are living on a thousand dollars a month, or an increase of 2% (33% of the 6% tax) in your retirement insurance premium while you are living on four thousand dollars a month.
Is Coberly boring in again? You betcha.
Oh, for those who don’t do percents, except to go, “OOOOh! That was a Big One!”:
that’s eighty cents per week per year while you are working vs 250 dollars per week less than starvation income when you are too old to work.
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