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1/25/2010
HOW DUMB ARE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE?

This will only be semi-snarky because Joe Klein raises a good question about the stim bill and people’s total lack of understanding of what it was for:

Absolutely amazing poll results from CNN today about the $787 stimulus package: nearly three out of four Americans think the money has been wasted. On second thought, they may be right: it’s been wasted on them. Indeed, the largest single item in the package–$288 billion–is tax relief for 95% of the American public. This money is that magical $60 to $80 per month you’ve been finding in your paycheck since last spring. Not a life changing amount, but helpful in paying the bills.

The next highest amount was $275 billion in grants and loans to states. This is why your child’s teacher wasn’t laid off…and why the fire station has remained open, and why you’re not paying even higher state and local taxes to close the local budget hole.

It turns out that what people are really upset about is all that wasteful money that has gone to political public works projects…except that the overwhelming portion of that money hasn’t been spent yet. Remember all those “shovel-ready” projects? Well, they didn’t exist. The big jobs-creating projects like the rebuilt “smart” electric grid, major highways and fast trains will come on line during the next year. (Although these projects might have gotten greater public support if they’d been chosen by a National Infrastructure Bank–a panel of experts, like the fed–that would have picked them according to their value added, rather than by the bozo appropriators in the Congress.)

So, two thoughts:

1. The Obama Administration has done a terrible job explaining the stimulus package to the American people…especially since there have been very few documented cases of waste so far.

2. This is yet further evidence that Americans are flagrantly ill-informed…and, for those watching Fox News, misinformed.

No sense in arguing about what was in the stim bill, although I think Klein hugely exaggerates the effects of the bill at the state level for most people who don’t live in California, New York, Illinois, and a few other states where budgets nearly doubled over the last decade. And, of course, no mention of the money the federal government won’t be sending to pay for increased mandates in unemployment insurance and health care.

But is one of the problems that the Obama administration hasn’t explained the package properly? I seem to recall that the impetus to pass this bill in the first place was to avoid unemployment rising above 8% and that it was desperately needed to create and “save” jobs. In fact, this bill was so desperately needed that Members of Congress were told to forget about reading the bill and just pass it already. It was a national emergency and that unless the bill was passed, we would be doomed - doomed I tell you!

Perhaps what Klein really means is that the American people paid too much attention to what the administration was saying and should have had the cynical sophistication to realize they were lying through their teeth spreading around that kind of bullsh*t. How stupid can we be to have taken Obama and the Democrats at their word?

And Klein’s childlike contention that “there have been very few documented cases of waste so far…” is so precious, don’t you just want to give the fellow a great big hug for being so cute? Kids and liberals say the darndest things, don’t they?

Income transfer payments did not belong in an economic stimulus bill. Education funds did not belong in a bill to stimulate the economy. Democrats just didn’t want to take those two spending programs up separately where they would have met resistance due to their price tag. I doubt, for instance, that Congress would have approved $6 billion for construction at universities and colleges - not when almost all of them had building funds to begin with and endowments the size of many African country GDP’s.

But let’s get to the thesis of Mr. Klein’s essay; that we Americans are too uninformed - “flagrantly” so - and that Fox News “misinforms.” (Nice that you can make a statement like that and not have to back it up with any concrete example - not like if we said the same thing about Time.)

Klein also calls us a bunch of extinct birds:

It is very difficult to have a democracy without citizens. It is impossible to be a citizen if you don’t make an effort to understand the most basic activities of your government. It is very difficult to thrive in an increasingly competitive world if you’re a nation of dodos.

First of all, the stim bill is a long way from being a “basic activity” of the federal government. That’s pretty much an idiotic and ill informed thing to say yourself, Joe. There probably aren’t more than a couple of thousand Americans who read the entire bill and fewer than that who understood it. Klein obviously didn’t understand what was in it or he wouldn’t have made an ass of himself saying there was very little waste in it.

There was a time 221 years ago when we were a coastal republic of 8 million people that any reasonably aware citizen could pick up a newspaper and follow along with what the government was doing, understanding what Congress was talking about in a way that is absolutely impossible today.

No one understands what our government is doing today. No one person can possibly be aware of what the hundreds of departments, agencies, boards, and panels that make decisions every single day that affect our lives, our economy, and our security are up to. It is a physical impossibility to keep up with it all. Even addicts like those reading this catch only glimpses, hints, and broad generalities of what is going on in Washington and all the satellite bureaucracies that dot the countryside.

As for Congress, there may be a couple of thousand lobbyists, lawyers, media, and C-Span addicts who are up to speed on what the people’s representatives are doing in the people’s name. And many fewer still can grasp the mind boggling complexity of much of the legislation that is crafted on Capitol Hill. Ever read a 50 page amendment to ERISA? No language course on earth could prepare you to grasp the reason for the legislation much less what it said.

How many citizens in the US understand the budget process? I can guarantee that Klein doesn’t, the dodo. Is he trying to tell us that he has been hired by Time, is paid an untold amount of money to tell us What It All Means, and he can’t even explain how the budget process is supposed to work? Not the cliffs notes version, but the way that Congress intended.

The way I see it is simple, logical, and elegant; the American people understand as much about government as they feel they need to - no more, no less. Some don’t want to know anything. In this country, they enjoy that freedom and shouldn’t have to worry about some snot nosed demi-reporter like Klein telling them otherwise. They also have the perfect freedom not to vote which, if you correlated knowledge about government with non-voting, the instances of both merging together would probably be fairly high.

For the great majority, there is interest in local issues much more than national ones. There are millions who couldn’t tell you the outline of the stim bill but who might be able to quote you chapter and verse on the latest school funding issue. This is the way it should be, even if Bozo’s like Klein wring their hands like old women that citizens don’t find important the same things they do.

Sure it would be great if everyone could intelligently discuss cap and trade or the latest Commerce Department regs dealing with sales of restricted items overseas. We could all sit down in Klein’s drawing room, good cigar smoke wreathing our heads, a glass of Courvoisier giving everything an agreeable blurriness around the edges, while Klein and his friends could tell us what we should be thinking.

Until then, Joe is just going to have to put up with people and their own, flawed perceptions of government and politics. After all, we can’t all be as astute and brilliant as Joe Klein. If that were the case, who would pay him too much money to write like an elitist pig?

By: Rick Moran at 1:51 pm
20 Responses to “HOW DUMB ARE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE?”
  1. 1
    Anon Said:
    2:05 pm 

    Klein and his ilk have been telling the American people what to think for 50 years via the MSM. They had a good run, and they liked it. Now the unwashed masses have ready access to limitless points of view. Some, undoubtedly, will rely only on their respective echo chambers for information, but more and more people are taking in information from all angles and giving it a good old fashioned gut check, unfiltered through the democrat lenses of Uncle Walter Cronkite, perky Katie Couric, or intelligent Joe Klein — democrats all. Klein doesn’t lament that Americans aren’t smart. Oh no, his real sorrow is that they are thinking for themselves, finally, and that has never been good for failed ideologies.

  2. 2
    Dave Schuler Said:
    3:05 pm 

    Would it be uncharitable of me to point out that Joe Klein is paid to follow the vagaries of the federal government while most of us aren’t? Wouldn’t complaining about the idiocy of those who’ve rendered the government incomprehensible be better than complaining about how poorly informed people are who are just trying to scrape together a living doing something other studying the federal government?

  3. 3
    Vic Hernandez Said:
    3:14 pm 

    And I know that Joe Klein made fun of Scott Brown’s truck too, because he lives way up in Elitesville.
    (And just like Joe Klein, I don’t have a source to back up what I wrote, but who cares)

    Rick,
    As always another brilliant article.
    Thx.

  4. 4
    Jim Said:
    3:25 pm 

    Hi Rick

    I liked your post very much. When you shout “Shut up and Vote!” on an unpopular bill, don’t be surprised when people are suspicious about it. Especially when it does not deliver at all on the promises behind the demand to “Shut up and Vote!”

    I believe the real problem with the stimulus bill is that it was a diversion from the real source of the problems in the economy. Our woes are due to a number of long-standing federal policies championed by Bernanke, Geithner, Summers, and hence President Obama. Individuals in both parties are guilty for creating the bubble economy. The bubbles started forming in the 80’s and have simply gotten bigger. We have to pop the current bubble. Taking tax money from us and passing it around might be nice and might even do some good. Infrastructure is a good thing. But it won’t solve the problem. I think there are enough finance, econ and business majors in the general population who realize this, which is part and parcel of the anger.

  5. 5
    Elizabeth Said:
    5:23 pm 

    I am amazed at dems and pubs alike… everyday Americans are always dumber by half, except of course, when they’re not. They are brilliant, even “progressive” when they vote O in, and dumber than a box of rocks when they vehemently disagree with his actual performance and that of his “co-conspirators”, Congress. Average Americans may not all be equally educated, moneyed, or sophisticated, but by and large, they know a terminological inexactitude when they see one.

  6. 6
    Allen Said:
    6:32 pm 

    Tax relief? No wonder Klein is getting snippy, the American people have already figured it out and he hasn’t. It’s a reduction in witholding on your income tax. The amount you get in your paycheck is considered a credit, and get to add back into your tax owed for your 2009-2010 returns for most Americans. Same tax, different timing.

    Similarly, yes the feds have sent some money to states. But people have already figured out that’s federal debt to bail out dysfunctional states. As for the shovel ready jobs, people aren’t seeing it happen. The fault is not the “dumb” people it’s that morons like Klein haven’t figured it out.

  7. 7
    UrbanGrounds | The Arrogance of the MSM Elites Pinged With:
    7:05 pm 

    [...] Right Wing Nuthouse: “And Klein’s childlike contention that “there have been very few documented cases of waste so far…” is so precious, don’t you just want to give the fellow a great big hug for being so cute? Kids and liberals say the darndest things, don’t they?“ [...]

  8. 8
    Everett Said:
    7:23 pm 

    If Joe Klein wants to suggest that voters are uninformed, he might have a point.

    After all, most voters are unaware that we found WMDs in Iraq. According to the National Ground Intelligence Center, we found 500 chemical weapons, including sarin and mustard gas. Certain facts are important enough that not knowing them threatens our form of government.

    I’d like to blame the antique media for this, but the information is all readily available on the net. People have to take responsibility for getting themselves informed.

  9. 9
    Scott Said:
    9:01 pm 

    As far as the “$60-$80 extra a month in our paychecks,” isn’t there a cap on that at $400 per person per year?

    I may be wrong, but I am under the impression that any amount over that is that much less that you will get back in your tax refund at the end of the year (right about now).

  10. 10
    c3 Said:
    9:27 pm 

    It occurred to me today that when the economy tanked and people lost their jobs the government stepped in and bailed out……the government.

  11. 11
    Andy Said:
    10:07 pm 

    Someone should tell Klein that unemployed people are not getting an extra $60-$80 a month in their paychecks.

  12. 12
    bobnoxious Said:
    6:59 am 

    “But let’s get to the thesis of Mr. Klein’s essay; that we Americans are too uninformed - “flagrantly” so - and that Fox News “misinforms.” (Nice that you can make a statement like that and not have to back it up with any concrete example”

    When you say “you” above, are you asking for Klein to respond?

    And does not Fox misinform ever, so that examples must be provided? Like there is doubt? You really want examples? You don’t. You of all moderates…but since Joe has not responded, you must be right?

    It’s your website, you’ve owned up to being too busy. Your worst scattershot essay in ages.

  13. 13
    Dee Said:
    7:19 am 

    Re…#8
    “The munitions addressed in the report were produced in the 1980s, Maples said. Badly corroded, they could not currently be used as originally intended,” DOD (6/29/2008).
    There was ample evidence that the weapons grade materials existed 20 years before their discovery…but they were little more than useless artifacts by the time they were found.
    Dee

  14. 14
    Dee Said:
    7:31 am 

    My response to #8 found above is a textbook example of what often happens when “Klein and his ilk”(as referred to in #1) are not doing the reporting. Truth is becoming subjective and context is everything. Dee

  15. 15
    Everett Said:
    8:05 am 

    @ #8

    From the same article,

    “These are chemical weapons as defined under the Chemical Weapons Convention, and yes … they do constitute weapons of mass destruction,” Army Col. John Chu told the House Armed Services Committee.

    None of the U.N. resolutions on Iraq permitted WMDs as long as they were old enough.

    And if you still believe that we found no WMDs in Iraq, can’t we agree that it’s a problem that most Americans aren’t even aware of the controversy?

  16. 16
    Everett Said:
    9:04 am 

    Oops. My last comment was directed to Dee, in comment #13.

  17. 17
    Dan Said:
    9:15 am 

    For liberals like Klein, Frank Rich, Paul Krugman et al the country would be so much better off if the slack jawed people who live in America would just mind their own business, pay their taxes and let the really smart, Ivy League guys run the country

  18. 18
    Surabaya Stew Said:
    9:40 am 

    FYI, the stimulus bill provides $25 extra a week in unemployment benefits. Not a whole lot, but something useful. The best part of the bill is the 9 month (just extended to 15 month) 65% subsidy of COBRA. Between both benefits, ever since I was laid off in April I have saved approximately $2000 on my health insurance and received $750 in additional funds while I have struggled to find a job in my decimated field of Architecture.

    Being able to go to the doctor and having a few extra dollars over the past 8 months to stay current with my bills is much appreciated. I anticipate having a new full-time job really soon so that I can get fully back into the productive life, but until that happens, its been good to have had this helping hand in these bad economic times.

    So if conservatives and the GOP want to criticize the stimulus, thats ok. I know who’s got my back, and they shall be getting my vote next time around.

  19. 19
    Jim Hlavac Said:
    2:42 pm 

    Well, Mr. Klein might be right that I’m “flagrantly” ignorant of what Obama and the rest are doing — however, it is my Constitutional right to be ignorant of their efforts to tax me more, and regulate my very life, and with what mechanisms they want to devise. Just as it is my Constitutional right to get anyone else to do the job. I particularly want to get someone who does not want to tax me and regulate me. I don’t care how he does it, nor do I really care what anyone does with their own money once they get it back. My knowledge level of what Obama and his crew are proposing is low because the details are based on a theory I know to be wrong. I see no point in wasting time on figuring out how Reid will work behind closed doors to raise taxes. I want to get rid of Reid and the doors themselves so that I don’t have to think about it all, and I might return to my regularly scheduled life. But since Obama and his wife have asked me to get involved I shall do so at their behest — and what I say is NO! No to it all. NO to anything that Klein ever says is good for the country. Like a broken clock, he may well be right twice a day, but the rest of the time he’s just wrong. So, for the Kleins in our midst, thank you for clarifying it — you all are for bigger government and I am for less. The details of your bigness are irrelevant to me. It’s all bad. As is said in many fields “less is more.” And since we want more jobs and more wealth, and less government is the way to get there, Obama’s and Klein’s I, frankly, don’t want to hear about what they want to do. Just shut up, wait out your term, go home.

  20. 20
    Dee Said:
    6:56 pm 

    RE:..can’t we agree that it’s a problem that most Americans aren’t even aware of the controversy?”

    Last time I checked, “most Americans” still thought the 911 hijackers were Iraqi, and too many believe owning an AM radio keeps them “informed” so color me surprised!
    DEE

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