Friday, February 05, 2010

Polling ignorance: Why Americans supposedly reject Keynesian economics

"Americans Reject Keynesian Economics," blares a headline at Rasmussen Reports.

Wait... what?

While influential 20th Century economist John Maynard Keynes would say it's best to increase deficit spending in tough economic times, only 11% of American adults agree and think the nation needs to increase its deficit spending at this time. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 70% disagree and say it would be better to cut the deficit.

In fact, 59% think Keynes had it backwards and that increasing the deficit at this time would hurt the economy rather than help.

To help the economy, most Americans (56%) believe that cutting the deficit is the way to go.

Eighty-three percent (83%) of Americans, in fact, say the size of the federal budget deficit is due more to the unwillingness of politicians to cut government spending than to the reluctance of taxpayers to pay more in taxes.

I'm sorry, but this is fucking ridiculous. What the hell do Americans know about economics, let alone about the intricacies of Keynesian economics? How do they possibly know what would "help the economy"?

They don't. The poll is just a reflection of bias and ignorance "across demographic and partisan lines."

People don't like paying taxes and don't like supporting programs for other people. It's that simple. And, as the poll shows, it's not just Republicans that don't. Democrats, who should prefer "the Keynesian approach," given their general political preferences, don't like taxes or spending either.

So does this mean Americans by and large prefer small, limited government? Perhaps, but only until they're actually pressed. Do they want a strong military, effective national security, Social Security, Medicare, etc.? Of course they do. Do they want the government programs that they like? Sure. But how do they expect to pay for all of that? Well, they don't want to pay for it themselves -- who does? -- and so what they prefer is for others to suffer so that they may benefit.

So it's hardly surprising that Keynesianism, which Americans don't understand, isn't terribly popular. But the alternative is what? Are we to assume that Americans love monetarism? Would they prefer their economy to be solely in the hands of central bankers? Hardly.

And they certainly don't know what's best for the economy as a whole. America is a democracy, yes, but it's a good thing policy isn't set by public opinion poll.

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