# Americans want more government

1. Dec 11, 2007

### fourier jr

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/story.aspx?guid={A0785CDE-37D3-4306-93CF-F1CECC6C7513}

Maybe it's time for another New Deal, but that will never happen. We all know what happened after the first one...

2. Dec 11, 2007

### Economist

This statement definitely sounds true to me. I guess that makes me a radical then.

3. Dec 11, 2007

### Staff: Mentor

I think Americans want a government that works for the people, that observes good stewardship, and is ethical and moral, rather than the dysfunctional mess we now have.

4. Dec 11, 2007

### Greg Bernhardt

Once we go through the hillary era the pendulum will swing the other way. It's the circle of life. Rinse and repeat.

5. Dec 11, 2007

### Staff: Mentor

So Greg, if you and chroot become President and VP, then the PF mentors can be your cabinet. So how about it? We need a third alternative.

6. Dec 11, 2007

### mheslep

Never gonna happen.

7. Dec 11, 2007

### Staff: Mentor

You mean, we're not gonna survive the Hillary years?

8. Dec 11, 2007

### BobG

Attitudes about the economy are gloomy, but not worse than they've been before. Maybe it's just such a long string of bad numbers rather than anything specific about today.

The Cash Index poll measures people's short term outlook on the economy. 100 is average with above 100 indicating optimism and less than 100 indicating pessimism. Usually, the numbers fluctuate both above and below 100, but the poll doesn't go enough years back to show many months over 100. In fact, for most of 2004, the numbers indicated a sure Bush defeat since you generally need numbers over a 100 to win re-election and no candidate had won re-election with numbers below around 95 (I can't remember the exact number).

The Consumer Comfort Index guages consumer's attitudes about current conditions (rather than future conditions) and average should be 0 with positive numbers being good and negative numbers being bad. Once again, the poll doesn't go back enough years to show many positive numbers.

The details in the Consumer Comfort Index show why the numbers are so bad in spite of what seems like a pretty solid economy. If you make less than $50K a year, things like gas prices mean a whole lot more to you than the Stock Market. It kind of confirms the idea of a growing income gap where some are doing great (at least until the last couple weeks) while people making less than$50K have been kind of stuck in place.

9. Dec 11, 2007

### Economist

Tis the nature of government. I'm suprised more people haven't given up on this nonexistent utopian vision of government.

If only F.A. Hayek were still alive.

10. Dec 11, 2007

### mheslep

11. Dec 11, 2007

### Staff: Mentor

Liberals studying something for other liberals found that Americans want liberal policies enacted? I'm shocked!

12. Dec 11, 2007

### ShawnD

That's the first thing I thought when I read the OP. Let met repost it with some of the filler taken out.

"Americans are becoming more pessimistic on the domestic economy and their financial futures according to a new poll sponsored by an association of worker unions."

I'm not saying unions are wrong, but they would probably come to the same conclusion even if the economy was doing great. (it might be doing great right now even, assuming you're not part of that subprime thing)

Last edited: Dec 11, 2007
13. Dec 12, 2007

### Economist

Interestingly I want to an academic seminar where a researcher was discussing his study to a group of professors. He took a look at many newspaper reports over the past 20 - 30 years, to see if economic data was reported differently depending on who was president. His findings were that people had a more pessimistic view of the economy when a republican was in office, even when controlling for the same exact economic data (unemployment rates, GDP growth, inflation, etc). And just to be clear, he was only looking at reports of data/figures/statistics. For example, he would compare the following headlines "The economy looking good at a low umemployment rate of just 4.5%" vs "The economy isn't doing that well at an depressing unemployment rate of 4.5%." In other words, he was looking at the differences in the way the same numbers are reported given the party of who's in office.

14. Dec 12, 2007

### ShawnD

Did your prof also account for which way the numbers were changing? If the unemployment is incredibly low then it increases to 4.5, that would be a a gloomy story to run. If it's very high then it drops to 4.5, that would be a positive story.

15. Dec 12, 2007

### opus

I am incredibly sceptical of that poll, as the West tends to be moving towards less government, moreso than more government. At least, that has been the global trend since Thatcher-Reagan. First with Europe, moving towards more liberal policies, since the creation of the EU. Sarkozy promises "revolutionary" change. Similarly with the years of Howard for Australia and both Chretien and Harper for Canada. Blair overall did little economically post-Thatcher.

Last edited: Dec 12, 2007
16. Dec 12, 2007

### turbo

Unemployment percentage is one of the slipperiest, slimiest numbers you can use to gauge the health of the economy. Let's look at the case of a small town. If a small manufacturing facility shuts down and 20 people lose their jobs (\$15/hr plus some benefits), but are able to get minimum-wage jobs with no benefits 20 miles away at a new Super WalMart, the unemployment rate for that region will not budge, though few would see this as a positive development for the local economy. If those 20 people cannot find work, the unemployment rate will show an up-tick until they are no longer eligible for unemployment benefits, at which time the rate will settle back to its previous level. If a new owner subsequently re-opens that manufacturing facility and hires back the 20 people, the unemployment rate will not budge because those workers are no longer eligible for benefits and won't show up in the unemployment rolls.

Over-simplified examples, but they are indicative of how the raw unemployment numbers can be used to convey good and bad news, while the underlying reality is contradictory.

Thanks to the big supermarkets, retail chains, fast-food joints, etc, there is a large population of people who work just under 40 hours/week (nominally part-time workers) for whom no unemployment benefits accrue. Since they cannot file for unemployment if they are laid off, they never show up in the unemployment figures. The "lucky" ones are the people in the "Assistant Manager" positions who get paid a flat salary with no overtime pay and who are required to work as many hours as the managers want.

When I was working in a local paper mill, the wife of one of the junior members of our crew was scheduled to work 38 hours/week in a chain supermarket in their town. She worked afternoons until closing, and the manager made her responsible for cashing up all the registers every night, balancing the receipts, and loading up all the cash drawers with the correct amount of cash in each denomination so that they were ready for the next morning's opening. This took time, and it put her hours beyond that magical 40 hours/week required for full-time employment status. She asked the manager to pay her for the hours that she put in, including overtime pay, and instead she was not scheduled for any hours for the next two weeks, to teach her a lesson. Wal Mart pulls the same stuff with their employees, but it takes class-action lawsuits to fight them. My co-worker's wife learned to keep her mouth shut and take her "part-time" pay.

17. Dec 12, 2007

### opus

You should talk to sessional professors at universities. I wonder what Economist thinks of a non-tenured prof overlooking his thesis or an economics prof's view of sessionals entirely.

Unfortunately, temporary and contracted work is increasing and slowly becoming the norm. Unions are not in the self-interests of corporations, and part-time employment with no benefits is one way to achieve this. People then start to work two part-time jobs instead of one full-time to sustain a livable income. Class-action lawsuits means you're fighting against a strong corporate legal team that the corporation can afford.

18. Dec 12, 2007

### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Political systems come and go as well.

19. Dec 12, 2007

### ShawnD

Do people in the US really only show up on stats if they work 40 hours per week? Full time in UK is 32 hours, Canada is 35, and I think France is 35 as well. My full time job is 35 hours (most jobs are 37.5). Even part time and seasonal jobs in Canada pay into Unemployment Insurance, which is collected when you are fired/quit.

I would assume the US has similar programs in place. While someone may not be able to get welfare, such as a kid living with his parents, everybody is able to get UI when they are fired.

Last edited: Dec 12, 2007
20. Dec 12, 2007

### Staff: Mentor

Frankly, I don't see that. "Less government" was the mantra of the Reagan administration, which would be fine if it was true.

What I observered in the meantime is that the expenditure of government has increased, not decreased, which leaves me to wonder, 'if government is shrinking, why are expeditures increasing, and certainly why faster than revenue?' Certainly some of that has to do with increased expenditure on 'entitlements'.

However, I think there is more government, and that includes outsourching government functions to private/public corporations, which not surprisingly have political and economic ties to those politicians in government.

I have yet to see a US administration or Congress exercise good stewardship.