If America Is On The Wrong Track, We Derailed Our Own Democracy

220px-Voter_pollAaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

A recent McClatchy-Marist poll, written up in Talking Points Memo, says 64% of Americans believe that “the country is on the wrong track.” The article however, does not delve into exactly why the 64% surveyed believe America is on the road to ruin or what “wrong track” we’re on. The poll results give a little bit of speculative clarity, but not enough to take away anything really meaningful about the wants and needs of Americans – just an overall sense that things aren’t going so well and we’re still confused as to what to do about it.

Considering the economy still swims in the toilet, we’re still embroiled in two major wars and several small conflicts throughout the globe and the political bluster permeating the airwaves, it’s not too hard to believe  that most Americans think we’re driving on the wrong side of the road. The questioning in the McClatchy-Marist poll reflects some of that sentiment. Aside from the “wrong track” question, those surveyed were asked what Congress’s top priority should be, under what circumstances they would support a government shutdown, and if they support or oppose cutting military spending, Medicare and Medicaid, and raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

From the responses to the questions, what’s more interesting than the benign 64% of people sharing a sentiment we already knew about, are respondents feelings on each of those other, more specific questions:

The majority surveyed (57%) feel that reducing the deficit should be the top priority for Congress. Maintaining services and benefits is the next highest category, at 27%.

64% surveyed believe in increasing income tax on income over $250,000 to deal with the federal budget deficit.

80% surveyed oppose cutting Medicare and Medicaid to deal with the federal budget.

54% oppose reducing military spending.

69% oppose raising the federal debt ceiling.

These results reflect a deep dilemma Americans face when it comes to understanding the price we have to pay if the majority believe reducing the federal deficit should be highest on the agenda.

Read the full post at Diatribe Media

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  • emperorreagan

    I don’t understand how people can be so clueless about where the US budget goes.

    Incidentally, I also don’t understand why the discussion of the US budget is lumped into one big pool. I specifically pay 6.2% of my income to Social Security & 1.45% to Medicare. My employer matches those totals. The appropriate discussion to have on Social Security and Medicare is what shortfalls there are in those programs based on the dedicated taxes, not to lump them in with the overall government spending numbers. That’s a bullshit accounting trick that the government has been using to hide other funding shortfalls for years.

    If you discuss the problems independently, things become much more clear. For social security to be self-sustaining indefinitely, for example, maybe you need to do away with the income cap or raise the tax to 6.5% for each party.

    Healthcare needs to be tackled seriously and separately from the general budget debate, too. No one has put forward a serious healthcare reform proposal (in spite of the bullshit Obama passed). Maybe if you put in a single payer system, do some tort reform, allow the government to negotiate prescription drug prices or import, work on the digital record stuff, actually require the efficiency studies on medical techniques so doctors don’t get sucked in where “new” doesn’t mean “better,” and tackle a number of other issues, then you could have a viable universal healthcare system for a total combined employer and employee contribution of say, 8-12% (my current combined contributions are the general 2.9% for Medicare and ~8% combined for my private insurance).

    Then you look at the rest of the budget and what the real problem there is – “defense” spending. It looks smaller than it is if you stick it in a pie chart with those other two programs with dedicated taxes.

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      in respect to medical reform, I’ve always felt the big problem is that our doctors are just plain stupid. They are people who have been mutated into memorization boxes, and not thinkers. Only a few medical fields require you to actually understand what you are talking about, and now with the style of HMO’s and drug prescriptions and immediate jumps to surgery, many doctors don’t even get meaningful contact with their patients. The information they are getting taught now is all bought and paid for, and is taught like dogma.

      Its like we’re back in the age where Galen’s unfounded theories were taught unquestioned to the mass of doctors. Anything that goes wrong is part of that probabilistic chance that all procedures go wrong (even though the gritty details always have a real cause). Anyone who chooses an alternative theory or treatment is a quack. However any mainstream accepted bad treatments will cost everyone much be it pain, misery, or of course.. money.

      • emperorreagan

        I agree, that’s one of the big problems.

        I think a good example of what’s wrong with respect to doctors is two people I went to college with:

        1. Got really good grades, a mediocre MCAT score, lied on his application with respect to his extracurriculars, and undoubtedly lied during his interviews since his stated motivation for going to medical school was the prestige and he didn’t really give a shit about people or medicine in general. He was also a functional alcoholic and a very vocal misogynist.

        2. Got good grades, a mediocre MCAT score, worked as an EMT then later paramedic throughout college. 100% honest on her application Very interested in helping people and very enthusiastic about going into emergency medicine.

        Person 1 got into medical school. Person 2 did not.

        • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

          That is both depressing and not surprising…

    • hunter349

      It’s nice to see more people who can look at the numbers and not be completely scared by them.
      It’s mostly simple math. Social Security is solvent for a very long time if we stop taking money for a dedicated program to pay for others. Medicare is a huge section of our debt but if we take smart action we can make a big difference without big changes. Import drugs from trustworthy countries, demand that we stop being overcharged for common procedures, give immigrants a front line pass to citizenship if they get a medical degree in the US, Etc. …..Tort reform needs to happen as well but we need some serious oversight in addition. If you add up unnecessary hospital infection, malpractice, and improper drug prescriptions, medical treatment is the 3rd largest cause of death in the US.

  • emperorreagan

    I don’t understand how people can be so clueless about where the US budget goes.

    Incidentally, I also don’t understand why the discussion of the US budget is lumped into one big pool. I specifically pay 6.2% of my income to Social Security & 1.45% to Medicare. My employer matches those totals. The appropriate discussion to have on Social Security and Medicare is what shortfalls there are in those programs based on the dedicated taxes, not to lump them in with the overall government spending numbers. That’s a bullshit accounting trick that the government has been using to hide other funding shortfalls for years.

    If you discuss the problems independently, things become much more clear. For social security to be self-sustaining indefinitely, for example, maybe you need to do away with the income cap or raise the tax to 6.5% for each party.

    Healthcare needs to be tackled seriously and separately from the general budget debate, too. No one has put forward a serious healthcare reform proposal (in spite of the bullshit Obama passed). Maybe if you put in a single payer system, do some tort reform, allow the government to negotiate prescription drug prices or import, work on the digital record stuff, actually require the efficiency studies on medical techniques so doctors don’t get sucked in where “new” doesn’t mean “better,” and tackle a number of other issues, then you could have a viable universal healthcare system for a total combined employer and employee contribution of say, 8-12% (my current combined contributions are the general 2.9% for Medicare and ~8% combined for my private insurance).

    Then you look at the rest of the budget and what the real problem there is – “defense” spending. It looks smaller than it is if you stick it in a pie chart with those other two programs with dedicated taxes.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    in respect to medical reform, I’ve always felt the big problem is that our doctors are just plain stupid. They are people who have been mutated into memorization boxes, and not thinkers. Only a few medical fields require you to actually understand what you are talking about, and now with the style of HMO’s and drug prescriptions and immediate jumps to surgery, many doctors don’t even get meaningful contact with their patients. The information they are getting taught now is all bought and paid for, and is taught like dogma.

    Its like we’re back in the age where Galen’s unfounded theories were taught unquestioned to the mass of doctors. Anything that goes wrong is part of that probabilistic chance that all procedures go wrong (even though the gritty details always have a real cause). Anyone who chooses an alternative theory or treatment is a quack. However any mainstream accepted bad treatments will cost everyone much be it pain, misery, or of course.. money.

  • Anonymous

    It’s nice to see more people who can look at the numbers and not be completely scared by them.
    It’s mostly simple math. Social Security is solvent for a very long time if we stop taking money for a dedicated program to pay for others. Medicare is a huge section of our debt but if we take smart action we can make a big difference without big changes. Import drugs from trustworthy countries, demand that we stop being overcharged for common procedures, give immigrants a front line pass to citizenship if they get a medical degree in the US, Etc. …..Tort reform needs to happen as well but we need some serious oversight in addition. If you add up unnecessary hospital infection, malpractice, and improper drug prescriptions, medical treatment is the 3rd largest cause of death in the US.

  • Anonymous

    It’s nice to see more people who can look at the numbers and not be completely scared by them.
    It’s mostly simple math. Social Security is solvent for a very long time if we stop taking money for a dedicated program to pay for others. Medicare is a huge section of our debt but if we take smart action we can make a big difference without big changes. Import drugs from trustworthy countries, demand that we stop being overcharged for common procedures, give immigrants a front line pass to citizenship if they get a medical degree in the US, Etc. …..Tort reform needs to happen as well but we need some serious oversight in addition. If you add up unnecessary hospital infection, malpractice, and improper drug prescriptions, medical treatment is the 3rd largest cause of death in the US.

  • emperorreagan

    I agree, that’s one of the big problems.

    I think a good example of what’s wrong with respect to doctors is two people I went to college with:

    1. Got really good grades, a mediocre MCAT score, lied on his application with respect to his extracurriculars, and undoubtedly lied during his interviews since his stated motivation for going to medical school was the prestige and he didn’t really give a shit about people or medicine in general. He was also a functional alcoholic and a very vocal misogynist.

    2. Got good grades, a mediocre MCAT score, worked as an EMT then later paramedic throughout college. 100% honest on her application Very interested in helping people and very enthusiastic about going into emergency medicine.

    Person 1 got into medical school. Person 2 did not.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    That is both depressing and not surprising…

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