Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lower cost, same result

It's been over a week since my last post. This blogging thing isn't as easy as it looks. Maybe if I click on that "Monetize" tab I can figure out how to quit my job and...

The Tea Party movement has reminded me of the anti-tax movement of the late 1970s. A Roper survey from July 1978 asked about measures to limit property taxes (which were popular), and then had some interesting follow-up questions. One asked “if the property tax were cut to 1% of market value . . . Do you think tax increases or service cuts would be necessary, or that needed services could be maintained without resorting to service cuts or tax increases?”

A majority (53%) said that tax increases or service cuts would NOT be needed. Those people were asked “Do you think that the government would find the needed money somewhere else, or that they would cut costs by eliminating waste, inefficiency, and needless programs?” 28% said they'd find the money somewhere else, 59% that they'd eliminate waste—the rest said some of both or weren't sure.

26% said that service cuts or tax increases would be necessary. They were asked which they thought the government would do—18% said raise taxes, 60% said cut services, and the rest weren't sure or said that they'd do some of both.

So for a lot of people, it seems that tax cuts were not a way to stop the welfare state, but a way to get it more cheaply. I haven't seen any similar questions asked recently.

The 20% who were not sure on the first question weren't asked any follow-up.


  1. That'd be an excellent survey to run. People seem constantly suspicious of waste and inefficiency in government, as if their experience at the DMV was an indicator of the entirety of governments at the local, state, and federal level. Anecdotally, the last couple times I've been to DMV, they were efficient and courteous.

    Personally, I'm curious about the crossover between Tea "party" membership and the old Reform Party rolls. How many current tea party members are former Reform Party members?

  2. I wonder about that perception too. I've heard that people are fairly positive about their dealings with actual government agencies. (I've noticed the same thing about the DMV--the last couple of times I've been to renew my license, it has been completely painless).

    The rhetoric has some similarities, but I think that the Tea Party and Perot are pretty different. Perot supporters were near the middle politically, and Tea Party supporters seem to be straightforward conservatives. I may have a blog post on that--probably after a decade or two has passed and people have forgotten about the tea party.