May 04, 2007
Your World in Charts: I Got To Admit That Things Are Getting Better, Getting Better Every Day Edition
Look at those sweet trendlines! In July 1994, 41 percent disagreed that the government should help care for those incapable of doing it themselves. By 2007, that number's down to 28 percent. Similarly, there was 10 percent drop in those disagreeing that the government should "guarantee" shelter and food. And remember: This is not during a particularly happy economic moment. Folks still feel squeezed and report tepid -- at best -- impressions of the national economic moment. But their social generosity is increasing even so. There's no guarantee that any of this will last, but what we're seeing looks more like an ideological shift than a situational one.
Glad you are finally picking up on that. There are reasons why terms like the angry middle or populist middle class are starting to take root.
Posted by: akaison | May 4, 2007 2:55:51 PM
It's very good news that the support levels on these two questions have risen in recent years. But the extent of this trend is less impressive than it looks. The base numbers in the chart are from 1994, the start of the Gingrich revolution. When I looked back at the underlying polls, it turns out the 2007 numbers are basically the same as the 1987 numbers when the historic Dukakis revolution was just getting underway. So, unlike some hot button social issues like gay marriage, where the evidence seems quite clear that a fundamental, long-term shift to more progressive attitudes is taking place, these look more like a return to the mean than a fundamental shift.
Along these lines, it would be very interesting to look specifically at the trends for adults under 35 to see if there is any evidence there of a evolving shift.
One other thing to note, in the same poll, 69 percent of those surveyed in 2007 agreed that "the poor had become too dependent on government benefits." This number also was higher in the mid-1990s, but it's still very high.
Posted by: Shawn Fremstad | May 4, 2007 3:17:06 PM
It seems to me more situational than ideological. People have great anxiety about the changes (globalization) headed our way, and are looking to government to help temper those effects. But when those new programs get out of control and Democrats keep having to raise taxes to pay for the waste, they'll come back to their senses. :)
Posted by: Jason | May 4, 2007 4:42:50 PM
Hell yes! Socialism is on the march, baby!
Posted by: senior | May 4, 2007 8:02:34 PM
“This is not during a particularly happy economic moment.”
This is where you’re wrong. These have been good economic time. The last 12 years have seen two strong growth periods with one relatively small recession in between. Sure, some have not benefited as much as others, but all in all, these have been good economic times.
Given the above, this trend fits with the premise put forth in a book The Moral Consequences of Economic Growths. The idea being that the public mood turns more generous after periods of sustained growth. The book tracks this trend back for 200 years – as best as possible given the spotty data as times – and finds this trend throughout, across both America and Europe.
The books not the greatest read, but it has its moments.
Posted by: DM | May 5, 2007 2:54:17 PM
"And remember: This is not during a particularly happy economic moment. Folks still feel squeezed and report tepid -- at best -- impressions of the national economic moment. But their social generosity is increasing even so."
Interesting stuff. I have one comment about your interpretation though:
I don't see the implied contradiction between people feeling squeezed and people supportting guaranteed fulfilment of basic needs. Rising economic insecurity (see, i've visited your blog before) will make people more likely to support safety nets, no? Could this be the sheltered upper middle-class white liberal at work? Gov't programs as proof of "social generosity"? A proper lefty would explain the trend in the support with increased awareness of folks' rational self-interest. People in the middle are starting to understand that they've got a lot more in common with someone who struggles to pay the bills than with someone who struggles to fit the jag next to the range rover in the driveway.
Posted by: Oscar | May 7, 2007 4:49:59 PM
Parents have no right in spanking you - Or do they? That could be another persuasive speech topic
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I can't be bothered with anything recently. I've just been sitting around doing nothing. Today was a loss. I just don't have much to say. Nothing seems worth thinking about.
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We are killing the rainforest
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Help the homeless down the street and persuade them to look for work
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An integrated, segregated society is better
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Not much on my mind right now. Today was a complete loss. So it goes. I've just been sitting around waiting for something to happen. I've basically been doing nothing , but I guess it doesn't bother me.
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I haven't been up to anything. My mind is like an empty room, but such is life. Maybe tomorrow. Today was a loss, but eh.
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There are too many, not enough handicapped parking spaces in our city
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A higher energy price is a sacrifice we have to make for cleaner fuels
Posted by: Steve | Oct 2, 2007 2:03:31 PM
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Teachers must be paid based on performance
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