Wednesday, March 01, 2006



Travis and I were discussing this interesting topic yesterday before discussing Bastiat's The Law, and then after over a couple of beers.

Additionally, I heard in the news yesterday and this morning about approval ratings. Why is it that they matter? Who really cares? Is it just something that individuals with opposing agendas can use against those currently holding power? Does it have any deeper meaning that I am missing, other than simply being a phone survey of questions?

I came to this belief yesterday: Public schools are just tools of indoctrination. They are nothing more! (well that should stir up a discussion) Why do we currently feel that public education is a pursuit of ‘social justice’ or equality, when it is really just the force feeding of a particular ideology and propaganda for those currently holding power. All the classical arguments hold true to my last few statements. When did it change and when did people start believing their own lies?

Sheldon Richman on the ratings and DubaiPorts.
Chris needs a lifeguard; he's gone off the deep end.
Chris, we are talking about presidential approval ratings here, right? If that's the case, then they're important because ratings are indicative of a president's political capital - i.e. his ability to get his projects and policies passed.

On education, I'll join you "off the deep end," as Travis calls it. You're right; public school is indoctrination. Recycling, anyone?
Do politicians, i.e. the Senators and Representatives actually look at the changes in approval ratings and decide to change their voting stance accordingly? I suppose that might be true for some, but I would think that party lines stay pretty clear most of the time no matter the amount of deviation in approval ratings.

Additionally, as Bush the Second’s numbers have declined, he still seems to have gotten his way on almost everything. So what are these numbers good for, except fodder for the opponent?
Chris, I'm not sure exactly how the mechanism works, although if you want to find out, you could consult the very ample political science literature on the subject.

However, there is considerable empirical data on the subject to know that it does work, regardless of how it actually happens.
Giving this some more thought, I know that there is an incentive for a politician to use these numbers and appeal to the median voter, but how much does the median voter actually pay attention to voting records of politicians? And if politician recognize that voters maintain party lines in elections, then their votes on presidential agenda items would likely stay along party lines.

Two things at work here:
Rational Ignorance and Median Voter Theory

It's a thought
So do presidents, generally get their way less frequently as their approval rating declines?
When did people start believing their own lies?
When did America start shifting toward statism? This would be an exciting history lesson, if anyone knows the answer. My guess is the first shift occurred during the civil war when unionism became more important than liberty. After that, the North had to teach the South's kids that the Norht was in the right in provoking war over tarrifs and labelling it a war on slavery.
Post WWI Americans seemed to have a strong sense of liberty, too, but the Depression and WWII killed that.
By the time we get to Kennedy asking "what you can do for your country" meant what can you do for your government?

It seems like it might of started around 1776 or 1789, as soon as this country got the ball rolling, it took advantage of its authority and pursued agendas beyond justice or 'negative liberty'.

I say this, because there were numerous protestors, essayists, and pamphleteers that preached that changes needed to occur. And although we currently live in a welfare state, they might of more easily recognized the losses of liberty, unlike most of our contemporaries.

Lysander Spooner started writing in the 1840's -- another reason I think it was before the war.
Joseph Goebbels:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
Karen and Roy often point to the government monopoly of money as the beginning of the end. I think they might have a point.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Personally, I don't think things are all that bad. If this is the end, then I think I can deal with it. :)

I'd have to agree on the approval ratings numbers. I don't see any purpose in them. If politicans needed them to estimate the President's political capital, they could conduct/commission their own polls (and they do).

My guess is that ratings more of a tool of pundits than politicians.
I like the money theory.
Did we ever reach the beginning? may be another question to ask. Of course not. Things were not perfect for one special moment in the late 1700's, nor were they ever. Maybe we should ask when did things change direction? The Barbary wars are a potential starting place.
Oh and on the money:

New $10 bills!!
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