Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Spend, save or draw?

Surprisingly, few Americans support decreases in federal government spending according to a PEW Research Center study.

In only two areas -- unemployment benefits and aid to the world's needy -- does the public favor a decrease over an increase.

I say these results are surprising for two reasons. First, it seemed as though the midterm elections were focused on deficit spending and decreasing federal spending as a whole. As it turns out, most people aren't ready to make those cuts. Perhaps all we heard were the loudest voices, not the people's voices.

Second, the wave of Tea Party candidates pushed an agenda of lower taxes. But lowering taxes and preserving the Bush tax cuts, while at the same time increasing spending, will inevitably lead to a deficit. We can't have it both ways.

Interestingly, perhaps we don't want it both ways. In a previous post, I pointed out that most Americans don't feel overtaxed. Again, perhaps all we heard were the loudest voices, not the people's voices.

Regardless, until the silent majority finds its voice, we're looking at political deadlock and party-line idiocy.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

News and Comedy Central

There's an interesting study out from the PEW Research Center about viewers of the Comedy Central news programs "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report."

According to PEW:
When it comes to mixing news and point of view, at least seven-in-ten NPR listeners, "Colbert Report" and "Daily Show" watchers and USA Today readers say they want news without a point of view.

As a regular viewer of these programs, I tend to agree, but I recognize the irony. Stewart and Colbert unquestionably present a point of view, and typically a politically liberal one. What makes these programs unique is that these viewpoints are disguised by satire, which has some interesting implications for what results when comedy and information mix.

Personally, I find their views to be logical and well informed and their humor to be...well, humorous. Still, maybe that's a rationalization for my own biases. Something worth thinking about...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Well enough alone

Americans are split when it comes to what the federal government should do concerning the recent health care bill.

Twenty percent think we should leave it as it is, 35 percent think it should be expanded and 37 percent think it should be repealed, according to findings from the Pew Research Center.

My guess is we'll have a preservation of the status quo. The support for expansion and repeal are roughly equal, so I doubt either side has much to go on -- that is, of course, assuming Democrats don't roll over on this one, which is a damn big assumption.

It's no secret that I'm for expanding to a single-payer system. My few interactions with insurance companies have been unpleasant to say the least, and as I understand it, my insurance is damn good. Maybe my mood is telling or maybe I expect to much.

The politically interesting point of all this concerns the deficit. According to the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan group, the GOP plan to repeal the health care bill would actually increase the deficit by $145 billion over the next 8 years.

Also, consider that the George W. Bush deficits were larger than those of any other president in history and that the RNC debt currently sits at $23 million.

I'm not arguing that this makes Republicans fiscally irresponsible. Deficit spending during times of economic crisis are useful ways to stimulate business growth because of reluctance to spend from the private sector. Don't believe me? Ask Paul Krugman. That Nobel Prize in Economics should carry a bit of credibility.

I am, however, arguing that Republicans are disingenuous. They are engaging in practices similar to those of the Democrats, yet they condemn the opposition. They accuse Democrats of a "tax and spend" philosophy, but at least there is an input for the output. The real Bush doctrine was "don't tax and spend anyway." It doesn't take a financial genius to see how that will play out, but I didn't hear any Republican cries for reduced spending then.

Now the new GOP policy is "don't tax, cut," but the proposed program cuts would put a minimal dent in the deficit -- or even increase it in the case of the health care debate.

In the end, I feel like being the party of "no" is just a hard habit to break. Opposition isn't bad, but when it's blind, it can become stupid and down right dangerous, as my good friends at the Onion point out.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Nearly 70% of Americans see the trend toward single-motherhood as societally damaging, according to a study from the Pew Research Center. Continuing with my recent conservative trend, I'm throwing my lot in with the majority.

I'm not saying that being a single mother is necessarily bad, or that entering a loveless marriage or "staying together for the kids" is a good idea. However, there have been numerous studies highlighting the positive social and psychological effects of a two-parent home.

The strengths and weaknesses of one parent tend to balance out in the other, often resulting in more well-adjusted kids. I think family is critically important and that children benefit from positive male role models.

However, I seriously doubt that the nuclear family has a monopoly on producing people of good character. Still, I would bet that a commitment to childrearing beyond just the mother provides a definite boost.