Free Markets, Free People

27% say government should manage economy

I’d like to say I’m “shocked – shocked I tell you”, but in all honesty I’m not.  Rasmussen reports that:

More than one-out-of-four Americans (27%) think the government should manage the U.S. economy, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Nearly as many (24%) say it’s better for the government to stay out of economic decisions altogether.

First, just off the top, I can’t imagine how 27% can think the government would do a good job managing the economy except via abject ignorance about how the economy actually works.  Secondly, if they’re at all literate they must know that some of the worst economic failures as states have been those in which the government managed the economy.  And if they follow world events even in passing, they can find current examples of that failure in Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and North Korea to name a few.

So you’d have to figure they at least have some cognizance of what “government management of the economy” means to hold such a belief, right?  If so, then other than faith, what do they base their opinion upon?  Certainly not facts – or even success stories.

They remind me of people who begin smoking fully aware of all the awful things that tobacco use will eventually do to them and somehow naively believe they’ll be the exception to the rule.  One has to assume they have discovered a way that government management of the economy can work and are simply waiting for the right time to spring it on us all.

Or perhaps they’re just young, inexperienced and enamored with the theory.  I guess everyone goes through a period of kumbyah economics  where one believes that if everyone would just work hard and share and let a benevolent government manage it all, we’d live in an earthly paradise.  But I never thought as many as 27% wouldn’t outgrow that.

Even more disturbing is the fact that more think the government should manage the economy than think it should stay completely out of it.  I’ll bet that wasn’t at all the case in the 18th or 19th centuries.   In those days our ancestors were of the opinion the less government the better.  What a novel thought, huh?  And with that freedom they built a nation that is the envy of the world – at least for the time being.  Until that 27% have their way.

Seriously though – that number is a bit stunning.  27%.  More than a quarter of those polled actually expressed the opinion that we’d be better off if government managed the economy.  Does that bother anyone else?  And if so, how do you explain it?

27% of our countrymen think somehow government could do a better job managing the economy than markets. Markets which now manage, quite successfully mind you, billions of individual transactions a day in which the two (or more) voluntary participants part perfectly satisfied at the conclusion.  How would government do that better?  How would it better allocate goods, money, raw materials, etc., than does the market? What signals would it use to satisfy changing demand and ensure the right goods are produced at the right time and sent to the right place for the right price and at a profit which keeps the whole system moving in a positive direction?

I’m asking because I’d love one of the 27% to drop in an enlighten us poor rubes who just can’t seem to wrap our heads around the idea they’re backing in a positive way.  Then I’d ask them if they’d prefer Zimbabwe or North Korea to this poor benighted country and its ostensibly “free” markets.  Because obviously they can’t be happy here.

27%!?

Wow … a real head shaker.

~McQ

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31 Responses to 27% say government should manage economy

  • Glenn Beck mentions a survey in which 20% of the respondents don’t know that the 4th of July is about Declaring Independence from Britain. They don’t know WHO IT WAS that we wanted our independence from. So…I think the logical conclusion is that 25% of respondents to any survey are giving completely false answers either because they are complete idiots, or they think it’s fun.
     

    • To be fair, I usually strive to be part of the group who’s answers have to be thrown out…

  • “What was the question again?” was probably the first most likely answer….
     
    The second most likely answer was “Baaaaaaaaah”.

  • I can’t imagine how 27% can think the government would do a good job managing the economy except via abject ignorance about how the economy actually works

    These “27%” are the Democratic base. They will believe anything, so long as Barack gives them a “shout out.”

  • 27% only? I feel much better now. I thought it would be around 40% and the “stay out” would have been 10-15%.

    • I would have expected between 20 – 25% would be leftist morons, based upon other polling.

      • Having a huge recession and economic crisis would bump those numbers usually. I would almost be sympathetic to those who wanted more government control over the financial sector – they would be wrong, but its understandable to want to do something about that.

  • I’ll bet that wasn’t at all the case in the 18th or 19th centuries.   In those days our ancestors were of the opinion the less government the better. 

    I disagree, at least with respect to the 19th century. It began shortly after the French Revolution,  and included the full development of Marx’s ideology  and the development of American Progressive thought, as well as various utopian experiments.

    The difference is that in the 1900s, there wasn’t a modern understanding of economics (even Adam Smith got the concept of value wrong), and there wasn’t the experience of watching attempts at Utopia desend into horror (at least, not like we have now). So it is much easier to forgive earlier “progressives” their folly.

    • But no such forgiveness for idiots like Robert Reich and Paul Krugman.

    • I was speaking about here, not elsewhere. I was assuming that Americans at that time wouldn’t have ever answered “yes” to such a question.

      • McQI was assuming that Americans at that time wouldn’t have ever answered “yes” to such a question.

        This raises a good point about what becomes acceptable and then even normal with time.  When Uncle Sugar got into the charity racket back in the ’30s – and, indeed, got into the nanny racket a few decades before that – it set us on a course for the lousy situation that we have now.  Precedents for government regulation led to precedents for government interference that have lead to outright government control.  Worse, people have developed the habit of thought in which a call for federal action is an immediate and almost irresitable response whenever there is a problem or crisis.  Unless and until a majority of people return to the idea that a local response (self / family / community) to a problem is the natural first response and that federal action is an absolute last resort, we will continue on the road to serfdom.

  • Public school “education” with no curiousity after graduation. People living on welfare, people who do not have any federal tax liability or who receive EITC payments. People who are so afraid of making a value judgment that they see all cultures and economic systems as equally valid irrespective of reality. There’s your 27%.

    • “Public school “education” with no curiousity after graduation. People living on welfare,” along with vague lefties and actual hard core lefties…
      “people who do not have any federal tax liability or who receive EITC payments.” – I am not sure these people really would want more government control – not paying taxes does not equal lovin’ the government. Though it does make it easier for them to like spending. People malign the EITC, but at least to get it you have to have a job and make an attempt to be part of the economy. Far better than just getting your SS “disability” check in the mail.

  • When we consider how many people claim to believe Aliens & Elvis live among us…  the people who are fourth-generation Welfare slugs who stay home days watching Rosie, Judge Judy and Whoopie…  the people who believe it is better to Take than to work… that it is owed them…
    Only than can you appreciate the incredibly scary number of leeches there in this once-proud nation of ours, and why crap movies like “Night of the Living Dead” still hold appeal.
     
    I saw a spoof once called “Night of the Living Democrat” it was really scary.

  • It’s not clear, either, that “Should the government manage the economy” (which is the relevant bit of wording, if you follow through deep enough to see the actual question) is a question that people will necessarily interpret the way Rasmussen intended.
    It’s not that I’m accusing them of dishonest or leading wording, so much as that “manage the economy” doesn’t necessarily imply, to everyone, the level of control that Rasmussen was using it to mean.
    I suspect some people simply interpreted it as some sort of semi-hands-off high-level “management”, eg. of monetary policy and the like, rather than Socialist state control of the entire economic apparatus.
    Of course, some of them almost certainly did interpret it as that and really do want it…

    • “Of course, some of them almost certainly did interpret it as that and really do want it…”
      This group really DO want it for YOUR part of the economy, but not for theirs of course, because, well, they’re smart and they’ll manage their own.

  • It would be interesting to see these poll numbers up against the views of those before us.
    What would that same poll read if taken in 1819, 1873, 1930, 1973?
     
    As soon as I get my time machine up and running, then I’ll let you know.  It’s impossible to find an after-market flux capacitor dontchaknow…
    Then again, if it works, then I’m totally outa’ here… there’s a lot of work to be done – starting with Justin Bieber.
     
    Cheers.

  • But the liberals, the pioneers andsupporters of capitalism, overlooked one essential point. A social system, however beneficial, cannot work if it is not supported by public opinion.They did not anticipate the success of the anticapitalistic propaganda. After having nullified the fable of the divine mission of anointed kings, the liberals fell prey to no less illusory doctrines, to the irresistible power of reason, to the infallibility of the volonté générale and to the divine inspiration of majorities. In the long run, they thought, nothing can stop the progressive improvement of social conditions. In unmasking age-old superstitions the philosophy of the Enlightenment has once and for all established the supremacy of reason. The accomplishments of the policies of freedom will provide such an overwhelming demonstration of the blessings of the new ideology that no intelligent man will venture to question it. And, implied the philosophers, the immense majority of people are intelligent and able to think correctly.It never occurred to the old liberals that the majority could interpret historical experience on the ground of other philosophies. They did not anticipate the popularity which ideas that they would have called reactionary, superstitious, and unreasonable acquired in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They were so fully imbued with the assumption that all men are endowed with the faculty of correct reasoning that they entirely misconstrued the meaning of the portents. As they saw it, all these unpleasant events were temporary relapses, accidental episodes to which no importance could be attached by the philosopher looking upon mankind’s history sub specie aeternitatis. Whatever the reactionaries might say, there was one fact which they would not be able to deny; namely, that capitalism provided for a rapidly increasing population a steadily improving standard of living.  It was precisely this fact that the immense majority did contest. The essential point in the teachings of all socialist authors, and especially in the teachings of Marx, is the doctrine that capitalism results in a progressive pauperization of the working masses. With regard to the capitalistic countries the fallacy of this theorem can hardly be ignored. With regard to the backward countries, which were only superficially affected by capitalism, the unprecedented increase in population figures does not suggest theinterpretation that the masses sink deeper and deeper. These countries are poor when compared with the more advanced countries. Their poverty is the outcome of the rapid growth of population. These peoples have preferred to rear more progeny instead of raising the standard of living to a higher level. That is their own affair. But the fact remains that they had the wealth to prolong the average length of life. It would have been impossible for them to bring up more children if the means of sustenance had not been increased. Nonetheless not only the Marxians but many allegedly “bourgeois”authors assert that Marx’s anticipation of capitalist evolution has been by and large verified by the history of the last hundred years.
     
    Ludwig von Mises, Human Action

  • <i>So you’d have to figure they at least have some cognizance of what “government management of the economy” means to hold such a belief, right?  If so, then other than faith, what do they base their opinion upon?  Certainly not facts – or even success stories.</i>

    China is still considered a state controlled economy by a goodly number of people.   Hardly a week goes by without some politician standing up in high dudgeon to whine about Chinese state involvements in the currency markets, reinforcing the notion. 

    Even though Chinese success has largely occured by their government getting out of the way, it’s still more involved than in the West.  And China is booming whilst the West is in recession. 

    • “Even though Chinese success has largely occured by their government getting out of the way, it’s still more involved than in the West. ”
      I am not sure China is more involved in the economy than in the West. Sure, from a state-run industry viewpoint it is. Or from currency controls. But China lacks a lot of those subtle regulations and code enforcement stuff. OSHA, Environmental Impact Reports and such. I think those matter far more than we think.

  • “Sixty four percent of the respondents said that aliens have contacted humans, half said theyve abducted humans, and 37 percent said they have contacted the U.S. government. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.”  CNN, 1997.
    Actually, I feel terrific that 37% believe in Men in Black, and only 27% believe in government control of the economy.  Heck, 24% believe in witches.
    We’re winning, folks.

  • Here is a seldom seen observation by an American genius:  http://nailheadtom.blogspot.com/2010/08/elsie-venner.html

  • Just a quick anecdote…
    A guy who posts a lot on Malkin’s site and also on Riehl’s…and holds himself as the policeman for conservatism and what the TEA Party stands for…has posted flat out that markets REQUIRE intervention by government, and they produce awful results if left alone.
    I’ve pointed out he needs to get his meds adjusted…  The point being, he could have answered that question with the 27%, and he thinks he’s Mr. Liberty.
    Makes you scratch your noggin.

  • It’s possible that at least some of the 27% are defining “economic success” differently.  They view “economic success” to have been achieved if everyone is equally miserable.  That would account for about 20 of the 27%, since we already know around 20% of the population is hardcore liberal.  The other 7% would likely be young, immature folk who haven’t yet discovered that the rest of the world doesn’t know the words to “Kumbaya.”

  • Governments simply can’t manage economies, their track record in doing so is 100% bad!