Free Markets, Free People

That for which we are and aren’t willing to pay

At least according to this Rasmussen poll.

It fairly clearly demonstrates that there is a resistence to the attempts by our federal leadership to further the welfare state that now exists here.

For instance:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Adults shows that only 19% would be willing to pay higher taxes to avoid layoffs of state employees. Sixty-nine percent (69%) say they would not be willing to pay more in taxes for this reason. Another 11% are undecided.

The 19% probably are state employees (just kidding).  But that’s a pretty damning majority.  It says, very clearly, that there are no sacrosanct jobs, and certainly not within government.  It also makes it clear that if those jobs are to be saved, increased taxation isn’t the way.

Entitlement programs don’t do much better:

Twenty-two percent (22%) would pay higher taxes to prevent cuts in entitlement programs for low-income Americans. Sixty-three percent (63%) say they would not pay more to keep these programs afloat. Another 15% are undecided.

Again, an overwhelming majority see entitlements as less important than cuts in their own income due to increased taxes.  A not so subtle warning to politicians that before they raise taxes, which they will, there had better be some real cuts to entitlements made. 

Education cuts have a lesser majority, but still, taxpayers are in no mood for tax increases:

Americans are slightly less opposed to paying higher taxes for education. Thirty-four percent (34%) say they are willing to pay higher taxes to provide funding for public education, but 54% say they are not. Another 12% aren’t sure.

Where the public seems somewhat willing to consider higher taxes (although a majority still isn’t willing to pay them) is in the area of public safety and police.

Thirty-seven percent (37%) say they are willing to pay higher taxes to increase the number of police and firemen in their communities. Still, 52% say they would not be willing to do so. Another 10% are not sure.

Now, there’s a context to these poll results that needs to be understood:

Most U.S. voters (52%) continue to believe that tax increases will hurt the economy, while just 22% think tax increases are good for the economy.

The economy is dictating at least part of this feeling by the public – its uncertainty and the continued economic downturn have voters wanting to hold on to every dollar they can.  What’s interesting about the results is that while each category above has a majority against raising taxes, this isn’t just a blanket rejection.  You go from an overwhelming majority of voters saying no to new taxes to save government jobs and stop cuts in entitlements to a bare majority when it comes to public safety.

That should inform politicians of the public’s priorities and where the line is if it comes to the point that taxes must be raised.  Whether these attitudes will change if the economy improves is anyone’s guess.  I’m not saying I favor tax increases, btw.  I’m a “no new taxes” guy.  Government gets more than it should have now, in my estimation.

I offer this as an interesting peek into the mind of the public right now.  The point, of course, is given these numbers, appeals to save government jobs and/or prevent entitlement cuts is going to fall on deaf ears.  Politicians who pursue increased tax revenues for those reasons (and at the behest of government unions like the SEIU) will be shooting themselves in the foot, politically speaking.

The pubic is in no mood for increased taxes.  Woe be unto any pol who pushes them right now, especially to save government jobs and entitlements.



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30 Responses to That for which we are and aren’t willing to pay

  • To my optimistic view, there is a turning tide.  The American people are not stupid, but very ignorant.  They can be taught, and Obama is doing that, at least.

    • The problem is that most are still lead around by the nose by the old media.  The old media helped pick McCain and Obama because of this.  They are unbound like they were in the 70’s and some of the 80’s because they no longer care about competing with each other for conservative viewers since they lost them altogether.
      So although they reach less people, they can now pour on the propaganda without immediate rebuke and criticism and they can also demonize any contrary opinions as ‘them’.

      • And yet, the trend line is showing the confidence in the MSM is swirling down the crapper, too.
        The 2008 election was…I think…the last harrah for the MSM, which jumped the shark in sucking up to Obama…if I can mix metaphors…

      • My wife listens to NPR to practice her English. So every morning this week has been about the civil rights movement, and today was about the poor, poor public employees in California who can’t make ends meet on their salaries, and are now going to just get the minimum wage…they interview a single black female who worked at DMV, who owes money on credit card and to the cable company and can barely pay her $1100 rent. Seriously? A public employee with no family and $1,100 rent can’t afford to pay off their cable bill? She must be eating every meal out at French restaurants. Then they interviewed an attorney who works for the state…who would get no salary at all during this period. She was also running into problems fixing up her bungalow and had withdrawn her 401K funds. She also made more money than “her partner” so she would be doubly hit. NPR did say she was “decently paid” – funny no specifics on the amount of course.
        Oh, and these guys have all been hit by the furlough where they get 20% time off  (Friday) and get a pay cut of 15%. Sounds like a raise in amount paid / hour to me, but yeah that could hurt if you had a budget with a razor thin amount of savings.
        I am sympathetic to people whose budgets get hit by these unexpected change sin income…but you know what? That happens to everyone else too.  I took a 20% pay cut and did not get a day off.

        • BTW, is it Civil Rights month or something? I have no problem with the occasional NPR story about civil rights, but its been three days now in a row. Or is this prepping for 2010 elections?

        • Ugh.
          My wife listens to NPR in the morning, as well.  Me?  I have Scarborough in the background while I sip coffee and peruse my favorite blogs and news sites.
          I ask her, “how can you listen to such depressing, woe is me, everyone is a victim bullsh!t in the morning?”
          She replies, “How can you listen to, or read, a bunch of idiots screaming at each other?”
          And, of course, all I’m left with is, “fair enough.”
          But at least your wife has a good excuse.  My wife speaks perfect Texan.
          Come to think of it, maybe NPR is a good way to go for ESL.  After all, they do speak in a slow, monotone, perspicuous way, don’t they?  Which is why I don’t know how she listens to it without going back to sleep with nightmares about the poor, indigenous peoples of… wherever.

          • I feel better now. I was worried that I was some sort of ass for being annoyed by NPR.

  • When we have economic recessions, the markets and businesses draw back on their size and capacity.  They call it a “correction”.
    Unfortunately, the government never makes any “corrections’.  It plods along like nothing has happened … or worse it gets even bigger.

  • it says, very clearly, that there are no sacrosanct jobs, and certainly not within government.  It also makes it clear that if those jobs are to be saved, increased taxation isn’t the way.

    Seems a stretch to conclude it says there are no sacrosanct jobs Bruce.   Agreed,  most of them aren’t,  but none?   How about the Guys plowing the roads after a storm?  Those are Government Employees.    I do agree that  increased taxation isn’t the way to save the important ones.  Unfortunately we do it just the opposite here in Godless MA.  We could provide most of the same, essential services for much less than we’re paying. 

    Pardon the lack of my usual pidgin Spanglish this morning, trying not to get the guy from Southparks panties all wadded up on such a fine morning.   Maybe later, if it rains…

    • The guys plowing the roads fall under the “public safety” side of the house and, as pointed out, a slight majority say no even to them.

      So I’m not sure how you conclude anyone in government’s jobs are sacrosanct given that number.

      • Frankly, I’ve always thought that the only sane part of the “stimulus” was the road building “infrastructure” projects.  Virtually everybody knows that we need most of these (whether we have the money or not) and this utilizes a portion of the work force that has been most directly affected by the recession, construction.  The remainder of the “stimulus” are mostly political payoffs .. a complete waste of money.
        It’s time to face the fact that we can’t keep speeding like it’s 1989, when times were good and government spent too much then too.

        • Yes I could have gotten behind some infrastucture projects because we need them, but of course that was never what it was about. It was all about political payoffs, pork, and outright theft. It was like a heaven sent orgy of looting by the Donks.

      • Those jobs could also be contracted out to private firms with big savings.

        • Only if the person in charge of the contracting is sharp.  More often than not the taxpayer gets completely fleeced by the contracts that government entities agree to.

    • Took me a second.  BWAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH…if you weren’t such a maniac liberal….
      Anyway  – plow crews –  there will always be ‘exception’ cases Pedro.    Asking specifics always start chipping away at the level of support for anything – that applies no matter which way you’re trying to move the level of taxation.
      But the time to ask them about snow plow crews pay was back when you were having your record snowfalls and had burned up the plow budget – not NOW when the only records being set are number of eggs fried on a snow plow blade.

      • Or how about cross training the parks and recreation groundskeepers to run the plows when its snowing and they can’t do any lawn maintenance? Maybe that’s already done, I don’t know.
        I was at a carwash yesterday, and the cashier had to come out and help vacuum the cars as they had a backlog. “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean” meanwhile I am sure that if the carwash was state-run, the cashier would never leave their booth.

        • Yeah, from what I recall – city crews were pretty much the same bunch who drove both the lawn mowers and the snow plows.  There was a fair amount of private contracting to guys with beefy 4X4’s and plows though, good money to be made (before global warming kicked in).

  • It isn’t the jobs as much as the benefit packages.  If what I heard on the radio was correct, they not only make 120% of their private sector counterparts in pay, when benefits are carried forward, they make 200% of the private sector counterparts.
    You can cut employee expenses in half right there and not lay anyone off.

  • Private business: When your revenue goes down you reduce your costs. What’s the easiest target? Fixed costs and overhead. Every person with experience knows that during good times most organizations can’t resist the temptation to add to overhead because after all, spreading the cost over XX more production isn’t much of a drag on performance. When your sales fall, those fixed costs stick out like a sore thumb. Letting go of productive line workers is usually the last resort. First, you have to let a lot of them go to make a significant contribution to cost reduction. Second, the effect on line worker morale is not as severe when the people laid off are anonymous clerks and managers working in “the front office”.
    Compare and contrast with how government goes about re-aligning their cost structure with reduced revenues and I’ll ignore the rhetoric about hurting the poor and senior citizens and other “clients”.
    Government: Reduce or eliminate functions that directly face the average citizen. Libraries, pools, parks, fire, police, sanitation. In effect, they reduce the primary services that citizens expect to for their tax dollars. One could almost say that they are acting out of spite, rather than prudence. It’s an inversion of good business practices. Because their revenue is down, they are going to punish their customers.

    • Exactly. I would like to see the growth of “administration” jobs in the average school district. I would guess it goes up and up even while they debate firing teachers.
      I do know that in my kids district in CA, they are closing schools as student numbers are down. The local charter school which is operated in a commercial office building wants to take over one of the closed schools so they can have a proper school facility. Unfortunately, the school that is closing will become administration buildings instead…why are they adding admin facilities when student numbers are falling and so are number of schools?

      • I also wonder if perhaps there are too many dead wood programs that could be eliminated entirely. These probably require tons of parallel administration positions.

  • The most horrifying thing was that 22%, nearly a third, of the people surveyed actualy think that tax increases are good for the economy.    That is truely mind blowing.  It makes me shudder.

    • sorry, meant to say nearly a forth.  duh

    • That’s just the “those rich people have mattresses full of money that ought to be spent on people like me” crowd. They know nothing of investment, finance, business, or anything else connected with money.

      All they know about money is they have some or they don’t. When they have it, they spend it. When they don’t, they bitch.

      • Or people with nice sinecures like tenured profs, or trust-fund people who never have to worry about money.

      • That’s just the “those rich people have mattresses full of money that ought to be spent on people like me” crowd.
        And to that point:
        One wonders what the numbers from this poll would be if the question read something like this, “Would you support taxing those who make over $250k in order to do blah, blah, blah?”
        Don’t you suppose that the numbers would be different?
        Admittedly, I haven’t done the research, so I’m kinda’ yelling from the upper-deck here, but I would assume that many more people would support such policies.  After all, tax thee, but don’t tax me.
        And really, where this could get interesting, is how do these generic numbers actually translate to electoral politics.  Sure, it’s easy to rant about non-existent payroll tax increases (a fad I see as increasingly popular around here), but the discussion only becomes relevant when talking about actual tax increases.  Otherwise, you might as well take a public opinion poll asking “would you be willing to let the government cut off your pinky toe if someone you don’t know might keep their job?”
        Otherwise, this “people don’t like to be taxed” poll is just another dog bites man.

        • Six months and counting until the Bush tax cuts are history.  No matter how you cut that mustard, folks are going to get hurt by that one.  And it doesn’t matter how the Dems spin it – we will all see less on payday.

          • No matter how you cut that mustard…

            They still weren’t payroll tax increases, were they?  IOW, the “good rant” was part and parcel a big fat lie.  No one was being “penalized” for hiring people like it was presented.
            Does anyone ever check facts around here anymore???
            Or is any anti Obama screed worthy of praise?
            Shoddy, to say the least.

        • One wonders what the numbers from this poll would be if the question read something like this, “Would you support taxing those who make over $250k in order to do blah, blah, blah?”
          I recall a podcast on Econtalk with a political scientist who said that when you asked if you yourself would pay for social program A with higher taxes, approval went down.
          David Brady of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about American public opinion on changing the health care system. Brady discusses the impact of taxation on public opinion toward health care reform–if the poll includes a measure of the likely increase in taxes necessary to pay for expanding coverage, support for expanding coverage drops dramatically compared to generic polls that ignore costs.
          This implies to me that any program that you don’t have to pay for yourself would get higher approval numbers than if the payment were partially made by yourself.