Third Party & Independents Archives

News polls aren’t all B.S., even when the people being polled are

Ordinarily, I give network news political polls about as much credibility as I give to the politicians they’re about. Polls, by nature and conception, are skewed to support an intended message. Rarely, if ever, does a poll present a totally unbiased, clear and objective message and their supporting statistics.

Whether it’s the selective audience included in the poll, the way the questions are worded, or the way the responses are categorized, political poll results are almost always an agent of partisan propaganda.

That said, with some measure of surprise and amusement, a poll conducted Tuesday by CNN is one of the most telling and demonstrative set of results I’ve seen in a long while. The poll questioned 100 Democrats, 100 TEA Party members, 100 Republicans, 100 Independents and 100 people who declared no political affiliation.

Without going into a lot of detractive opinions or back-story, I’ll just present the two questions which I found to be truly remarkable.

Question: Do you support the United Nations’ implementation of a “no-fly zone” in Libya?

Answer “YES”: Democrats 71% — Republicans 77% — TEA Party 84% — Independents 58% — Undeclared 49%.

Question: Do you support President Barack Obama’s implementation of a “no-fly zone” in Libya?

Answer “YES”: Democrats 64% — Republicans 22% — TEA Party 13% — Independents 66% — Undeclared 52%.

Notice that Democrats, Independents and Undeclareds all remained relatively consistent in their answers. They all felt that the implentation of a “no-fly zone” in Libya is a good idea.

So why do Republicans and TEA Party members dramatically change their answer depending on by WHOM the zone is implemented? When the U.N. imposes the no-fly zone, it’s gung-ho, hell-yeah, “We’re #1,” let’s git ‘em! But somehow, when Obama’s name is included in the exact same question, the right wingers believe that it’s an horrific, terrible, “Why do you hate America,” “it will kill the economy” icky-phooey idea. I would love for someone to explain how this does NOT demonstrate conclusively that Republicans and teabaggers will reverse their position for no other reason than to simply oppose Obama, even when he is doing something they otherwise support.

And just so the “it’s an isolated incident” argument can’t be lobbed into the fire.

Question: Should Japan receive humanitarian aid from countries of the United Nations in the form of food, money and medical supplies in the wake of the recent tsunami and nuclear plant crises?

Answer “YES”: Democrats 59% — Republicans 66% — TEA Party 47% — Independents 64% — Undeclared 55%.

Question: Should President Barack Obama grant humanitarian aid in the form of food, money and medical supplies to Japan in the wake of the recent tsunami and nuclear plant crises?

Answer “YES”: Democrats 51% — Republicans 9% — TEA Party 11% — Independents 61% — Undeclared 62%.

Apparently, 57 of the Republicans polled and 36 of the teabaggers polled are either unaware that the United States is a member of the United Nations, or they arbitrarily reverse their opinion whenever the words “President Barack Obama” in introduced into the discussion.

I should make it crystal clear that I firmly believe that America should have absolutely no involvement with Libya whatsoever, with the possible exception of the import/export of native goods EXCLUDING oil. But since oil is the only thing American politicians care about anywhere in the Middle East, then we should jackl up the prices of the corn, grain and medicinal drugs they import from us, using the exact same “speculation” formula that’s used to jack up American gas and oil prices any time a Middle Eastern national leader or dignitary has a bad hair day.

News reports are already going on about America’s potential cost for “short term operations” in Libya could exceed $100 Billion by July, and that Congress will likely fund it through the same “emergency appropriations” tactic they’ve used to deficit-spend for a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan. How convenient that current Congressional rules and by-laws don’t require “emergency approrpriations” to be pre-funded. That’s how Bush and Cheney kept the larger part of $2 Trillion in war costs out of the public eye because those appropriatios were never included in the federal budget. And now this Congress, despite all it’s “stop the spending” empty rhetoric, is poising itself to do it all over again, in another “oil country,” with the exact same tactics they say CAUSED the country’s ridiculous debt in the first place.

And the Republicans and teabaggers are more than happy to yell “Hell yeah” and “How soon can we get it done?” That is, unless Obama’s involved. Then it’s “Hell no” and “how dare he?”

The hypocrisy is palpable.

Posted by Gary St. Lawrence at March 23, 2011 2:48 PM
Comment #320537

Good observations on the polling front. But let me address one thing here.

The Republicans made fun of the budgeting item, but Obama has such operations covered in an item called Overseas Contingency Operations. It’s what Bush used to leave off the budget as the supplementals.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 23, 2011 3:41 PM
Comment #320542

Could it also mean GSL that republicans and teaparty people polled believe that being in the U.N. that we already gave so why do it again? Relief efforts to other countries should be a world wide effort not just a U.S. effort. As far as the no fly zone that to should be a World wide effort. In the words of some of the Democrats on this Blog in past posts “Our Military is already streached. We don’t need another war.”

Posted by: KAP at March 23, 2011 6:05 PM
Comment #320547

KAP, I’m fairly sure - based on your comments - that you missed the entire point of my post.

If you’d read all the way through it, you’d have seen that I already feel we have no military business in Libya whatsoever. I am sick to death of America’s politicians spewing the “we must be the world’s police” nonsense and then committing trillions of our dollars to bail out countries that give us NOTHING, before or after. America stopped being the world’s white knight a long time ago, and it’s far past the time that we stopped pretending it was still the case.

I am also sick of the “coincidence” that the only countries our “humanitarian” leaders ever seem to give a rat’s ass about just *happen* to be oil-producing nations.

But that is for another rant entirely.

My point today is how gung-ho the Republicans and teabaggers were to one version of the questions, and then completely reversed themselves when the words “President Barak Obama” were added to the exact same question.

Posted by: Gary St. Lawrence at March 23, 2011 6:59 PM
Comment #320551

GSL, Could it be that when you put “President Barak Obama’s” name to anything it will cost a ton of money and get this country deeper in debt?

Posted by: KAP at March 23, 2011 8:14 PM
Comment #320557

Kap, There would be credibility for that if the polls also showed that conservatives were concerned about that when Bush’s name was applied. Nope, not even a squeak from conservatives when Bush and the Republicans were pushing the debt through the roof.

Posted by: jlw at March 23, 2011 9:40 PM
Comment #320560

jlw, I didn’t much care for Bush either. IMO) both him and Obama are incompetent. It was just to bad the Democrats ran 2 guys who were more incompetent then Bush was.

Posted by: KAP at March 23, 2011 10:50 PM
Comment #320565

Very interesting, I wonder how these same polls worked when Bush was President. Have you done any poll studies on this, or are you saying the Republicans dislike obama more than the Democrats disliked Bush.

Pertaining to why these polls result as they do, I have a tendency to believe obama is not trusted, therefore when his name appears, conservatives imediatly distrust him.

One last thought; since I am part of the Tea Party and a conservative, I find your use of the word teabagger offensive, especially coming from one who posts articles on WB.

Posted by: 1776 at March 24, 2011 12:44 AM
Comment #320567

Kap, I like Obama little, primarily because he lacks leadership abilities. He is always waiting it seems on a consensus rather than taking the lead.

On his side though I must say that Republicans in Congress have been viciously attacking him since day one and have refused to participate in any kind of negotiation or compromise. That was not the case with Bush and the Democrats, The Democrats were overly compromising with Bush and the Republicans. Bush got nearly everything he wanted from both the Republicans and the Democrats with few exceptions; even after the Democrats took the Congress.

On the competency issue I have to disagree. I think Obama has a long way to go before he will be considered as incompetent as Bush. Maybe not with conservatives, but with the American people as a whole.

Obama didn’t make the mess, he inherited it from Bush. Everyone knows this, even conservatives, though they won’t, can’t bring themselves to admit it. Obama will have to work really hard to get his approval rating down into the low 30’s.

Obama’s biggest problem is still jobs and we should all know by now that corporations aren’t interested in providing those jobs. The Bush tax cuts, Obama’s stimulus, and and an extension of the tax cuts are worthless in the face of foreign labor.

Transportation costs may be Obama’s best ally in bringing jobs back.

I also think Republicans are making a big mistake in attacking social programs and unions. It is going to backfire on the Republicans big time. It has already done serious harm to several new Republican governors.

And look at Boehner, the tea party members are so dead set on their way or no way that Boehner has to make deals with the Democrats to get legislation passed. The Senate is not going to accept the tea party agenda and as a body, the Senate is more conservative than the House.

Then look at the world, workers rising up demanding better treatment. The South Americans, the Middle East, China, people are tired of oppression by wealth and in many of these countries, American corporations have been or are major contributors of that oppression.

Posted by: jlw at March 24, 2011 1:50 AM
Comment #320568
KAP wrote: “GSL, Could it be that when you put “President Barak Obama’s” name to anything it will cost a ton of money and get this country deeper in debt?”

Pardon? Sorry. Couldn’t make out what you were saying over all the partisan babble-static you were spewing.

Posted by: Gary St. Lawrence at March 24, 2011 3:23 AM
Comment #320571


Posted by: KAP at March 24, 2011 8:42 AM
Comment #320580

KAP, are you saying that you think your comments thus far have been non-partisan?

If you do, then that, my friend, is LOL.

Posted by: Gary St. Lawrence at March 24, 2011 1:59 PM
Comment #320581

In 2000, Bush said he would not be in the business of nation building, that Somalia had turned into nation building and there would be no foreign entanglements if he is elected.

Unfortunately, Bush had all ready taken Jeb’s advice and placed Dick Cheney on the ticket.

Asia Times, Washington - Feb.28,2003: Bush Shares Dream of Middle East Democracy:

“In a major policy address to the neo-conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI), U.S. President George Bush on Wednesday pledged to “ensure that one brutal dictator is not replaced by another” in post-invasion Iraq and argued that a U.S. victory there “could also begin a new stage for Middle Eastern peace”.

“The passing of Saddam Hussein’s regime will deprive terrorist networks of a wealthy patron that pays for terrorist training, and offers rewards to families of suicide bombers,” he said. “And other regimes will be given a clear warning that support for terror will not be tolerated.”“

AEI was a close affiliate of another neo-conservative group, the Project For A New American Century (PNAC) which went underground around 2006. The goal of PNAC was to promote an American Empire, a Pax Americana. It’s membership included such notable neocons as Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Condi Rice and Bill Kristol, chairman.

“We’ve got to win a real war, which involves using a lot of troops and building a nation, and that is at the core of the president’s strategy for rebuilding the Middle East.”-Bill Kristol.

Well you know, Qaddafi got the message, kind of, enough for the Bush Administration to lift sanctions and bring the brutal dictator back into the welcoming arms of wealth’s corpocracy.

New York Times, March 24, 2011: Shady Dealings Helped Qaddafi Build Fortune and Regime: ” In 2009, top aids to Col. Muammar El Qaddafi called together 15 executives from global energy companies and issued an extraordinary demand: Shell out the money for his countries $1.5 billion bill for it’s role in the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 and other terrorist attacks.”

The statement was issued by the State Department probably in an effort to beat Wiki-leaks to the punch.

Anyone care to speculate on which American companies ponied up to pay Qaddafi’s terrorist attacks fines?

Anyone care to speculate on why anyone would fine a dictator of committing acts of terror instead of chopping his head off or hanging him?

By the way, this in not to defend Saddam, but the Bush Administration gave no credible evidence to link him to terrorist organizations or terrorists acts.

But there is a ton of evidence proving. beyond any shadow of doubt, that no country, no dictator, has given more money to support terrorist organizations, terrorist attacks, and the families of suicide bombers than the Saudi Royal Family.

Obama was left to hang out and dry on the decision to join the coalition against Qaddafi. There was no way on earth the the Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, was even going to consider a resolution to do this, let alone pass it.

As a matter of fact, the Republicans criticized Obama for not doing something, they attacked him for being late to do so, and attacked him after he did so.

That little yellow Newt and the wine swizzling Boehner were both for action before and against after the action, even invoking the freedom fries, which are again ‘French’ fries in the eyes of conservatives and neocons.

The average age in the Middle East is close to 20 years old. The next baby boomer generation.

Posted by: jlw at March 24, 2011 2:15 PM
Comment #320582

jlw writes; “Obama’s biggest problem is still jobs and we should all know by now that corporations aren’t interested in providing those jobs.”

Are you sure of that jlw. Could you explain why American corporations don’t wish to provide jobs with some factoids to back up your statement.

Gary, the poll question regarding implementing a no-fly zone in Libya makes no sense. The question credits both, Obama and the UN for the action. It is obvious to me that the UN acted and Obama merely followed. The respondents were merely acknowledging that they appreciate leadership, not fence sitting until someone else acts.

And, perhaps the respondents weren’t pleased that Obama acted without even consulting congress. I wonder what the response would be if the polling question added one more dimension. A third question might have asked…Do you approve of the Hillary Clinton demand, on Obama, of implementing a no-fly zone in Libya?

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 24, 2011 2:56 PM
Comment #320587

GSL, Your saying my comments are partisan? IMO Obama fails as a leader and I don’t much care what party he represents, I would say it no matter. I did not like Bush as a president and as I said if the Democrats didn’t run people who where more incompetent then he was he would never have been President. As far as congress, we need to get rid of the whole lot and start over, so if that is being partisan I guess I am.

Posted by: KAP at March 24, 2011 3:49 PM
Comment #320590
KAP wrote: “if the Democrats didn’t run people who where more incompetent then he was he would never have been President.”

So you’d have preferred someone “competent” from the Republican Party, like … oh … say … Sarah Palin?

Your original comment essentially lays the fault of the entire financial meltdown and deficit at Obama’s feet.

You can’t even see how hypocritical you’re being.

Posted by: Gary St. Lawrence at March 24, 2011 4:15 PM
Comment #320591
Royal Flush wrote: “the poll question regarding implementing a no-fly zone in Libya makes no sense. The question credits both, Obama and the UN for the action. It is obvious to me that the UN acted and Obama merely followed. The respondents were merely acknowledging that they appreciate leadership, not fence sitting until someone else acts.
And, perhaps the respondents weren’t pleased that Obama acted without even consulting congress. I wonder what the response would be if the polling question added one more dimension. A third question might have asked…Do you approve of the Hillary Clinton demand, on Obama, of implementing a no-fly zone in Libya?”

Why do you feel the need to add a slew of superfluous “ifs” to force your intent to stray away from the actual point?

The Republicans and Tea Partiers DRAMATICALLY reversed their opinons to the EXACT SAME QUESTION for no other reason than because the words “President Barack Obama” were added the second time it was asked.

Your suppositions are no more valid - nor applicable - than if I’d posited “Gee, I wonder how far over 100% the responses would have been from the right is they’d named Sarah Palin instead of Obama.”

You hate/dislike/disapprove of Obama, fine. But if you’d just take issues at face value once in awhile, instead of trying to force a “reinterpretation” to suit your agenda, you’d get far less opposition to your comments.

Posted by: Gary St. Lawrence at March 24, 2011 4:20 PM
Comment #320600

GSL,Granted Obama isn’t alone in the financial pit this country is in but he is responsible for what is going on now. IMO we’ve had enough of the “Bush is to blame game.” As far as Palin for President “NO.” To be honest with you I would have rather have seen Hillary in the W.H. At least she has a competent past President as a confidant. So partisan I din’t think so. You show more partisanship to the blue column then the green like some other writer who moved to a different blog.

Posted by: KAP at March 24, 2011 5:20 PM
Comment #320601

Gary, I offered reasonable explanations. Sorry you can’t accept it.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 24, 2011 5:27 PM
Comment #320608

Obama’s chickens are coming home to roost. Do we remember this from the 2008 campaign in Fort Worth, Texas on March 1, 2008:

“FORT WORTH, TEXAS — Hillary Clinton told reporters that both she and the presumptive Republican nominee John McCain offer the experience to be ready to tackle any crisis facing the country under their watch, but Barack Obama simply offers more rhetoric.”

That was exactly 3 years ago and has Obama gained any experience since then, I don’t think so.

KAP said, “To be honest with you I would have rather have seen Hillary in the W.H. At least she has a competent past President as a confidant.”

Truer words could never be said. I wonder how many liberals are ruing he day they voted for Obama instead of Hillary.

Hillary has taken the lead and involved Obama in something in which he could not make a decision:

“Only the day before, Mrs. Clinton — along with her boss, President Obama — was a skeptic on whether the United States should take military action in Libya. But that night, with Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces turning back the rebellion that threatened his rule, Mrs. Clinton changed course, forming an unlikely alliance with a handful of top administration aides who had been arguing for intervention.

Within hours, Mrs. Clinton and the aides had convinced Mr. Obama that the United States had to act…. Victory has many fathers. If events in Libya turn out well, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and others will share the credit. If they don’t, expect a furious leak war between the Clinton and Obama factions.”

Posted by: 1776 at March 24, 2011 8:45 PM
Comment #320611


What’s your point? That Obama should have acted sooner? That Obama should have committed ground troops? That Obama should have acted without the agreement of the UN Security Counsel? That Obama should have rejected the negative arguments of Secretary Gates sooner in favor of Hillary Clinton?

Do you think that we should be involved in Libya? If yes, to what extent. The President has said for a very short time and that the allies must take leadership and responsibility for actions in the near future. Do you disagree with that position?

Posted by: Rich at March 24, 2011 9:15 PM
Comment #320617


Help me here. I looked through your linked research report and cannot find the questions you refer to, broken down in the way you report.

I also cannot find any reference to the sample sizes being 100 for each of the groups you mentioned. I would be suspicious of such small samples and would like to see if/how they compensated.

I am sure you are basing your comments on some accurate information, but I cannot find it. My bad (probably)

Please list the page and or question numbers of the things you mention.

Posted by: C&J at March 24, 2011 10:15 PM
Comment #320618

My point Rich, is that Obama never made a decision to do anything. If it weren’t for Hillary, Obama would still be saying, “DUH, what is a Libya?’

My further point is, WHY ARE WE IN LIBYA? Everything Bush was comdemned for in Iraq, has now been used as an excuse for going in by the Obama Admin. Bush was hammered for the same thing and the left says about Obama, “we dissagree with what he is doing, but we must support him”. Why would you support him for something you don’t believe in?

This is called hypocrisy, and this takes us back to the subject of the post; why do Conservatives not support Obama? Because he is a liar and he changes his opinions with the blowing of the wind. He simply sticks his finger in the wind to see which way it is blowing, before he makes a decision. I have never, in my many years, seen a president who could not make a decision as Obama does.

Posted by: 1776 at March 24, 2011 10:31 PM
Comment #320619

Sorry Rich, i failed to answer your question: no, I do not believe we should be in Libya, But I also do not believe we should be in Iraq or Afghanistan. Do I believe there should have been retrobution for 911, yes, but retrobution could have been done simply from the air. I do not believe in nation building, and I don’t believe we can ever establish democracies in the Middle East Muslim Nations.

Posted by: 1776 at March 24, 2011 10:36 PM
Comment #320623

Royal, your not interested in factoids, only foxtoids. I gave you several factoids and you cherry picked one. Try choosing a couple others and proving them false. Like, U.S. companies aiding and abetting terrorists activities for profit. That one should be easy to disprove. Shouldn’t it?

The Week, March 18, 2011: Where America’s Jobs Went:

“In the two years after the Wall Street meltdown triggered the Great Recession, large American corporations slashed U.S. payrolls by a net of 500,000. At the same time, they hired 729,000 workers overseas.”

“As globalization transforms the world economy, in fact, many U.S. companies are shifting the balance of their workforce overseas.”

“allowing enormous service companies ans small businesses alike to hire web designers in Thailand, graphics specialists in India, and seismologists in Pakistan. White- collar workers who once seemed immune to off shoring-lawyers, financial analysts, even local news paper reporters-are now in peril of seeing their jobs shifting to India, Eastern Europe, or China. In recent years, 13 of every 100 U.S. computer programing jobs shifted overseas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, making it the most at-risk occupation in America.”

“Any jobs you can think of now can be done by someone on the other side of the world for less cost,” said Matt Barrie, CEO of, which natches employers and freelances around the world.”

You should give them a call, maybe they can hook you up.

Every since Bill Clinton signed NAFTA, He, Bush, and Obama have proclaimed high tech jobs the future. They have provided tuition incentives for high tech students, tax breaks for employers. Corporations attracted young people with pay incentives and benefits.

These aren’t public sector workers or union workers, they are white-collar salaried employees.

“I’d like my new team to meet my old team,” Myra Bronstein’s boss said, by way of opening the meeting at WatchMark, a Bellevue, Wash. developer of software for cell phone companies. Bronstein and 17 other U.S. based software testers were meeting the 20 engineers, fresh off the plane from India that had been hired to replace them.”

The old team was required to spend two months training their replacements or loose their severance pay. Many American workers have been coerced to do the same.

Why? Globalization, open borders, the new one government world order.

But, never fear, soon the Republicans will purge America of everything that they determine to be liberal and socialist. In no time at all, they will have the American work force whipped into shape and working for what they are told to work for.

Posted by: jlw at March 25, 2011 3:22 AM
Comment #320627

“If it weren’t for Hillary, Obama would still be saying, “DUH, what is a Libya?’”


It seems quite clear that there was a legitimate split of opinion within the administration on Libya. Secretary Gates opposing involvement and Secretary Clinton favoring involvement. Obama eventually took a compromising position: US involvement but only if the UN, NATO, and the Arab League agreed to sanction the actions and to take a lead role in the maintenance of the effort.

This was a difficult call. Obama’s “dithering” related to arranging for international support and leadership on the issue. Obama rightfully, in my opinion, was not going to commit the US to unilateral action in Libya. Whether the international community will in actuality take on the lead role in this conflict remains to be seen.

Posted by: Rich at March 25, 2011 9:25 AM
Comment #320637

Why does America have to be the policemen of the world while other countries spend less on defence? Why is it the U.S. that always has to take the lead and supply the bulk of the treasure, like in Afghanistan and Iraq?

I have heard and joined in these arguments quite a bit over the last few years and it is not an exclusive of either side of the political spectrum.

Perhaps Obama was listening. Perhaps he was establishing a precedent, the U.S. is willing to help but not willing to lead this one and provide the bulk of the treasure to get er done.

Posted by: jlw at March 25, 2011 2:02 PM
Comment #320667


Still waiting for clarification on where you got those questions and answers.

I did a search on your questions and terms in the linked report and cannot find them. I suspect that you mixed up surveys, extrapolated or maybe even made them up.

Giving you the benefit of the doubt, I expect that you have simply linked to the wrong survey or maybe conflated some of the questions.

But in any case, since your whole argument is based on information that is not present in the evidence you have presented, we can justifiably dismiss the whole posting, on the basis of the old “garbage in, garbage out” idea of evidence.

If you have the additional information, please present it. Facts are hard things.

Posted by: C&J at March 26, 2011 1:10 AM
Comment #320681

Wages and salaries are now being determined on a world scale, while standards of living differ by country. The implication is that in the near future, we will be exporting our best and brightest people.

$15,000 per year is a poverty salary in America, but comfortably middle class in India, temporarily.

In order for Americans to compete in the global economy our standard of living must be reduced, across the board, by a considerable amount.

Posted by: jlw at March 26, 2011 1:48 PM
Comment #320691


You have a point but it is difficult to address. As the world develops, wages around the world are converging. Some people worry about the rising difference between rich and poor within countries (which is rising in most of the world) but the other trend is that differences among countries is diminishing.

According to the “Economist” magazine, the richest parts of China are now richer than the poorest parts of the UK. It might not sound like much of an accomplishment, but it is a major change.

In the 1950s, about half of ALL the production in the world was in the U.S. This has declined to around a quarter, but it is still impressive when you consider that we have only about 5% of the world population. In the 1950s, the U.S. and to a lesser extent Europe, was very rich in comparison the rest of the world because we produced so much more effectively.

American productivity today is much higher than it was in the 1950s, but others have also improved. It is natural that they catch up. This is a good thing from both the economic and the humane point of view, but it makes us feel less rich.

You mention $15000 in India. I don’t know if that is an exact figure, but it is in the trends. Two things are truly amazing if you look at the long run. The first is the buying power of the poorest Americans. At the poverty level, an American is consuming - in terms of food, appliances, electronics housing etc - at the level of a middle class Indian AND at the level of a middle class American in 1955. The other amazing thing is that an Indian has risen to that level.

BTW - a salary of $15000 in India would be fairly high, i.e. somebody with significant technical skills, the kind of person who could probably command a good salary in America. I do not believe that a person making $75,000 in the U.S. would enjoy or accept the lifestyle he/she could buy with a salary of $15000 in India. It is “comfortably middle class” in India, but that doesn’t mean the same thing,since the person making that money would be making a lot more in America.

I think your point is valid, in general if you mean there is convergence. I am not sure, however, that the American standard of living will be reduced. Rather it will improve more slowly relatively as others catch up. This has been going on since the 1940s, BTW.

It is probably inevitable anyway. We cannot isolate our own economy from the world. Others have tried and consigned themselves to greater poverty. There is also the question of morality. Would it be moral to try to keep others poor in relation to ourselves by cutting off our market?

Posted by: C&J at March 26, 2011 4:48 PM
Comment #320713

C&J, the differences between countries is somewhat misleading. The World Bank has said it underestimated the number of people living in poverty in the world and that more than ninety percent of the improvement in poverty levels can be attributed to one country, China.

The replacement workers in China started out at a higher rate of pay than in many third world countries and with an annual 5% increase in pay, which of course isn’t going to keep up with the rate of inflation in the country.

What you say about levels of consumption, both in regard to comparing Americans to Americans and comparing America with other countries is true, but much of the increase in consumption has been financed with ever increasing consumer debt, nearing a hundred trillion dollars, compared to the 1950’s. In addition, there has been a considerable default of debt over the intervening time that has added to the cost of consumption.

The $15,000 is the going rate paid to software engineers in India and what the industry says will soon be the going rate for the same here in America. Thus a graduate in software engineering may decide to immigrate to India. A growing phenomenon in America that could lead to an exodus of some of America’s best and brightest. Hopscotching freelancers.

We have already started the process of reducing the standard of living. Higher paying jobs are being relocated to other countries while the preponderance of jobs being created here are lower paying service jobs. In addition, the great influx of immigrants helps hold down wages and will complete change the demographics of the country. Not that I mind the change in demographics all that much, who runs the government concerns me less than how they run it.

The inevitable concerns me less than the draconian.

Posted by: jlw at March 27, 2011 1:38 AM
Comment #320720


I agree that wages will converge, but I believe they will mostly converge on the upside for the currently poor people of the world rather than diminish ours. I know it is a standard talking point that American lifestyles have declined, but that is not my experience nor what the statistics tell us about median incomes.

We have been beneficiaries of significant technical advances. Today almost everything you and I is better than what we could buy in 1980 and it is cheaper per attribute.

I think it is amazing how cheap computers have become. I can buy a laptop for around $300 that is much better than the one I paid $3000 for in the 1990s. In 1980 I could not have bought it for any price. Chrissy had laser eye surgery a couple year ago. She paid $3000 and got 20/20 vision with a guaranteed upkeep. When I had it done in 1998, it cost $5000 and in 1980 you could not buy that level at any price. We bought a new Toyota RAV 4. It cost $21000. It would have been impossible to buy a car with the reliability and features back in 1980 for any price. Among the features it has, a small but remarkable feature, is an I-Pod attachment. Nobody could have access to such a music library in 1980 - nobody no matter how rich. Now it is easy for anybody. Many people like old cars, but they require constant upkeep.

The riches that even a poor American has access to are simply unbelievable in any world or historical context. We just have learned to take them for granted so we think they are normal or entitlements.

Let’s go to foods. We spend less of our income on food than at nearly any time in history, even with the recent rises in prices. How about medical and dental? Again, we complain, but compared to the past, it is great. Consider the laser surgery I mentioned or the replacement of joints and things like that.

To speak to your point about jobs, there is a threat to jobs, but it mostly comes from technology that is eliminating or replacing jobs. American industrial production is higher than it was in 1980, but we do that with only a third of industrial workforce. These jobs have not been exported and they cannot come back. They are gone.

The pressure on jobs has mostly been on the lower levels. The value of high-level skills has increased in the global competition. The value of low level or unskilled labor has decreased in the U.S. This is one reason for the growing income gaps.

I have three kids in their 20s. I sometimes worry about their future, as any parent does. But when I compare their prospects to mine when I was there age in the 1970s, I think they have a much better odds of success. You may recall that in the 1970s, there were lots of predictions that the U.S. was finished and that civilization as we knew it would soon end. Remember all those predictions of mass starvation and ecological destruction. Each generation predicts that kind of stuff.

IMO - the world of today presents more challenges than that of the past, but also more opportunities. It is not as easy a place for the indolent or uneducated.

I remain optimistic about the future of my children and their world.

re software engineer emigrating to India to earn $15000 a year - India is a nice place to visit, but no American would really enjoy living there at $15000 a year. Or maybe they would enjoy it as an “adventure” but not a lifestyle.

Posted by: C&J at March 27, 2011 10:20 AM
Comment #320850

In 1973, I had a serious ear infection. I went to the doctors office. The doctor confirmed my diagnosis, gave me some antibiotics in a small envelop, and said see the receptionist on the way out. The receptionist said, that will be two dollars. The whole truth and nothing but.

In 1990, I had a serious ear infection, I had no doctor so I went to the emergency room for treatment. Two hours later I was escorted to a curtained off examination area. The doctor confirmed my diagnosis and wrote me a prescription for an antibiotic. $186 plus the cost of the antibiotic. The antibiotic (amoxicillin) did not work. I had to repeat the process.

Something happened on the road to the good times.

What do I expect for the next 20 years?

I expect the lower and middle working classes to tread water at best while continuing to loose ground to inflation, and the professional class to see significant reductions in starting salaries with a continuation in preceding years. I expect to see a continuation of outsourcing of jobs to foreign markets, especially in the high tech area, for at least the next decade and possibly beyond that period.

Posted by: jlw at March 30, 2011 2:54 PM
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