United in Disapproval

It’s not quite 99%, but if 80% of Americans can agree on anything, even something as nebulous as a disapproval rating for two bodies of 535 representatives from 50 states, it’s worth taking a moment to notice.

Unfortunately, all we’re going to hear about the next year is the presidential race when what we seem to need is focus on the states.  But where is everyone going to get the information they need about their state, much less their representatives and other candidates?  Who has the time to go through it all?

Should we stop worrying so much about what’s going on in Washington and figure out what is actually happening in the states?

[Polling data from Real Clear Politics]

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

Before we get to the chart, let’s refresh ourselves on the drill…

Okay, now look at the chart and pick out what’s different…

Did you pick the Bush-Era Tax Cuts?  Then you’re absolutely right!

Unlike wars, downturns, bailouts and recoveries, we can project the direct financial effect of tax cuts before the fact.  Everything else on the subject is speculation.  At this point, that there is still a debate about it at all points to much deeper problems.

[Chart via GOOD]

Eisenhower’s Farewell

Though his warning about the military-industrial complex gets the most play, Eisenhower also expressed concern over public policy becoming a “captive of a scientific, technological elite” and of our democracy turning into an “insolvent phantom”.  Fifty years doesn’t seem like such a long time ago, but it sure looks and sounds different…

For comparison, here’s the last speech of everyone to follow: Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, H.W. Bush, Clinton, W. Bush.

CA State Budget ’07-’12 – Cost and Revs

What’s more exciting than a state budget?  Pretty much everything, but since you’re here and probably funding one, here’s a look at California’s expenditures from the last few years’ proposed and enacted budgets:

California_StateFunds07-12(click any chart to enlarge)

Yep, just what you’d expect: school and health and stuff.  But where do the funds come from?  Funds!


Don’t worry, it’s just taxes.  Why bother with that chart?  Because that’s the terminology, and facing it now might help overcome your inevitable and brutal lack of interest in the “General Fund” on the day you go and look at budget yourself.  For now though, let’s take the bond figures from above with revenue summaries from the individual budgets and move on to the one slightly interesting chart in this set:

So technically, every time there’s a recession, less income will lead to less sales and therefore less tax, which basically guarantees that when the state is hurting, the government will be in no position to help.  …  Or is that not the problem?

We need more input.

[2011-2012 California State Budget, Historical Budgets from CA Dept. of Finance]

Which Reality Do You Subscribe To?

What do Americans think about the union battle going on in Wisconsin?  …  What do Americans know about public sector unions might be a better question, but for now let’s take a look at the polls and how they are being dished out.

The New York Times headline for the New York Times/CBS News Poll:NYTimesheadline

“Americans oppose weakening the bargaining rights of public employee unions by a margin of nearly two to one: 60 percent to 33 percent.”

Gawker’s headline for the same poll:Gawkerheadline… That seems reasonable.

The USA Today headline for the USA Today/Gallup Poll:
USAtodayheadline“The poll found 61% would oppose a law in their state similar to such a proposal in Wisconsin, compared with 33% who would favor such a law”

Daily Kos’ headline for USA Today/Gallup Poll:
DailyKosheadlineOverwhelming?  …  USA Today might not completely agree, since they also ran the following headline for the same poll:

The Pew Research Center headline for the Pew Research Center poll:
Pewheadline“Roughly four-in-ten (42%) say they side more with the public employee unions, while 31% say they side more with the governor, Scott Walker”

CNN’s headline for the Pew poll:

The Zogby International headline for the Zogby poll:
Zogbyheadline“Two-thirds of likely voters agree that state legislatures have the authority to cut state employee salaries and 52% agree they can void collective bargaining agreements to reduce spending.”

Do state legislatures have the authority to cut and void?  Did they mean to ask a state government expert that question?  And if a survey respondent thinks they do have the authority, does it follow that they support anything?  Newsmax thinks so:
And finally, the Rasmussen Reports headline for the Rasmussen Reports poll:
“A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 48% of Likely U.S. Voters agree more with the Republican governor in his dispute with union workers.”

The National Review headline for the Rasmussen poll leaves the question open:
Unfortunately the questions don’t stop there.  While it makes sense that another polling organization might question a rival’s methods, as the New York Times blog Five Thirty Eight did:
NYTimes538headline… they are not alone in second-guessing Rasmussen.  Media Matters has compiled a list of media outlets who have run with it anyway:
MediaMattersheadlineOf course, with Google News showing over 5,000 articles related to the mess in Wisconsin, this compilation could take innumerable shapes itself.  Grains of salt should be taken everywhere.

In the end, it all comes back to you and the reality you subscribe to…

[All headlines link to the original articles.]

1 2