Saturday, February 23, 2013

Graph of Doom...

Alternative title: Graph of Greece-in-the-Making.

Many surveys and polls have shown that a majority of the U.S. voters believe that the federal government should cut spending.  The Pew Research Center decided to do a survey to see what specific kinds of spending the voters would support cutting.

Answer: none.

Lemme get this straight: the voters want to cut spending generally, but there are no specific kinds of spending – not even one category that a majority of voters agree should be cut.

Mind you, this is mathematically possible.  If every voter only supported cuts in a single expense category, then if 5% of voters supported cuts in any given category we'd get results like this.  So it's not necessarily the case that any (much less all) voters are being insincere here.  It could be, and likely is, simply that we all have different ideas about where the cuts should occur.

I can only think of one solution for that: cut everything.  Hey...doesn't that sound a lot like the (to be dreaded) sequestration?

The real problem caused by this phenomenon is political: any politician driven primarily by self-interest (that would be all of them) is going to find it very hard to support real cuts in (say) agriculture – because most of his or her voters are going to think that's wrong, and remember that at the next election.  Consensus fails in this situation; ideology and leadership are needed.  I don't know where we're going to find them...

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