Tag Archives: sequester

Are you an LIV? Take this News IQ quiz!

We know about those low-information voters (LIV), like these captured in the video below (more examples here):

Are you one?

Of course not! You’re a FOTM reader! 😀

The Pew Research Center has its latest News IQ Quiz, comprised of 13 quick questions, to test how informed you are.

Click here to take the quiz, then report back here on how you did!


P.S. I’m 13/13 😀


Americans are lazy and willfully ignorant

Remember this?

I had posted the video in my post of Mar. 5, 2013, “Never underestimate the stupidity of the American people.” Here’s Richard Winchester saying the same, but more eloquently, in The American Thinker.

While the MSM should be faulted, I blame the low no information voter more. In this day and age of the Internet and Alternate Media, there really is no excuse for why so many Americans remain so woefully and willingly uninformed, thereby making themselves into perfect dupes of liars and manipulators.

H/t FOTM’s StephanieO


Democrat voters

The American Ignoramus

By Richard Winchester

If democracy requires an informed citizenry to function well, the United States is in serious trouble. Many Americans are political ignoramuses.

It doesn’t take much effort to describe the typical citizen’s political ignorance. The Pew Research Center for The People & The Press, for example, has plumbed random samples of the public’s public affairs knowledge about twice a year since 2007. The questions have varied in substance and format, but the results have been uniformly dismal. The average correct score is usually just above 50% which, if judged by the usual academic standard –90+% = A, 80-89% = B, 70-79% = C, 60-69% = D, <60% = F — would be F.

Since people who cannot be contacted or refuse to take part in polls are more politically ignorant than those who do, these are generous estimates of the public’s political knowledge. It’s estimated that 25% to 33% or more of the adult populace is “missing in action” when poll results are reported. Were these people’s ignorance added to poll results, pollsters tell us that the public’s grade would be F-.

One particular Pew Research Center poll illustrates the average citizen’s paltry stock of political information. Between July 26-29, 2012, the Pew Research Center asked a random sample of adults twelve questions tapping knowledge of the presidential election. Some questions probed knowledge of where the candidates stood on key issues; others plumbed information about the candidates’ background. The average score was 6.5 questions right, or 54% of the total. Forty-nine percent got six or fewer questions correct.

If you think a poll from late July is too early in an election year to provide evidence of what people know on Election Day, history tells us not to expect much learning during a campaign. Moreover, partisans pay heed mostly to stories about their preferred candidate; they generally ignore, or largely discount, information about the other candidate(s). Even when information concerns one’s preferred candidate, all too often it’s “in one ear, out the other.”

People need “old” information to help process and retain “new” information. This is known as “the Matthew principle,” after the passage in Matthew 25: 29, which asserts, in effect, “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”

Many individuals cast ballots knowing virtually nothing about candidates and where they stand on major issues, their country’s history and political institutions, the ideals that have motivated earlier generations, and the likely consequences of their vote. These “low-information voters” cast ballots mostly on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, partisanship, and/or class envy.

Ignorance is not just a problem on Election Day. Many individuals have only the dimmest awareness of important aspects of their locality, state, or nation. People know virtually nothing about important issues confronting their governing officials. Many can’t even name their local, state, or national leaders. Finally, “dark areas of ignorance” aptly characterizes the public mind when it comes to foreign affairs.

What are the consequences of widespread political ignorance? Manipulation of ordinary people by what Angelo Codevilla calls the “ruling class,” which includes political leaders, the news and entertainment media, and special interest groups. Instead of public opinion shaping public policy, most of the time Jane or John Q. Public has no political influence, because she/he knows little, if anything, about what is going on in the corridors of power.

Unless someone can find a way to stimulate greater grassroots political attentiveness — the more interested people are in public affairs, the better informed they are — expecting a substantially better-informed citizenry is wishful thinking. There are just too many spheres of life, such as family, friends, work, health, faith, recreation, entertainment, etc., that people believe are more pressing than public affairs. In the main, politics is a matter of tertiary concern.

Since almost all American adults rely on the mass media for the news, patterns of media dependence and styles of media coverage of politics also preclude the possibility of a much better informed public.

A Rasmussen poll in late February, 2013 found that 56% of “likely voters” said they got most of their news from either cable TV outlets (32%) or traditional network telecasts (24%). Another 25% claimed to rely most on the Internet for the news, 10% said print newspapers were their main news source, and 7% picked radio.

That mix of news sources helps understand the public’s low levels of political knowledge, since electronic outlets (TV and radio) provide less information than print news. The internet’s efficacy as a source of the news is less understood, although some claim the internet “makes us dumb” because it conveys information less effectively than traditional print outlets.

In addition, the substance and style of media coverage of public affairs has shifted in recent decades from “hard” to “soft” news. Hard news refers to media accounts of serious topics such as politics, business, or international events. These accounts are normally longer and convey more detailed information than soft news stories. Soft news stories typically focus on entertainment, the arts, and lifestyles, and tend to be aimed at tugging at the audience’s heartstrings.

In summary, most people, most of the time, aren’t very interested in public affairs, and consequently don’t know a lot. Moreover, given patterns of media exposure and a larger amount of soft news, it’s unlikely that things will change much.

What does it mean? At best, the U.S. will have bad political leaders, chosen by low information voters. At worst, American democracy will slowly shrivel due to widespread ignorance.

Ignorance seldom leads to happy endings.

Never underestimate the stupidity of the American people

Watch this and weep….

H/t sagebrush


America is on the edge of a fiscal cliff

In the context of government, the word “fiscal” means “of or relating to government revenue, especially taxes.”

Mamta Badkar reports for Business Insider, May 17, 2012, that investors and analysts everywhere are warning of the fiscal cliff that is approaching at the end of 2012 that could significantly hit the American economy. Unless Congress acts, more than $600 billion in tax and spending provisions will change at the end of the year. And this will impose fiscal restraint at a time when the U.S. economy is growing very gradually.

The “fiscal cliff” refers to a number of different policies that are set to change at around the same time, most on January 1, 2013. Together, they will amount to significant fiscal tightening that will hurt the economy:

1. The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are going to expire:

This includes the current schedule of marginal tax rates, expanded credits and deductions for middle income households. Most Democrats and Republicans are in favor of extending the middle-income tax provisions, while most Republicans are in favor of extending the upper-income provisions.

2. The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) will hit more people:

The AMT was enacted to prevent individuals and households with high income from using deductions and tax breaks that enabled them to pay little or no taxes. The AMT establishes a minimum tax — generally 28% — on income above a certain exemption amount. This amount is not indexed for inflation but is usually increased every year or two by Congress. Failing to extend the AMT relief would result in $132 billion in additional tax liabilities, most of which would come due in the second quarter of 2013.

3. Payroll tax cut will expire:

Congress lowered the Social Security payroll tax on employee wages from 6.2% to 4.2% starting January 2011, and then extended it through the end of 2012. Payroll taxes will increase by about $120 billion in 2013, if the tax cuts expire.

4. The Sequester will slash domestic and defense spending:

The super committee’s failure to reach an agreement last year meant that spending cuts will take effect January 2, 2013, unless Congress acts sooner. This would reduce spending by $86 billion in CY2013 (calendar year), mostly through cuts to discretionary spending and roughly half of this would fall on defense spending.

5. Unemployment benefits will run out:

Emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) and extended benefits (EB) pay benefits of about $3.7 billion per month to about 3.1 million jobless workers who have used up the 26 weeks of benefits. Under current law, EUC and EB are both set to half payments after the end of the year 2012. Over the next several months about 700,000 individuals are likely to lose eligibility. Expiration would cut payments to individuals by about $34 billion in CY2013, compared with 2012.

6. Around the same time the debt limit will be breached again:

The statutory limit on public debt is $16.394 trillion, which is expected to be reached in November of December 2012.

7. Other miscellaneous year-end issues that need to be resolved, two important ones are:

  • Doc fix: This prevents a scheduled cut of more than 25% to Medicare physician payments from taking effect.
  • Tax enders: A collection of mostly corporate tax preferences, such as the R&D tax credit that are temporary but are extended so frequently that most corporate taxpayers have come to expect further extension.