We're All Know-Nothings Now

We're All Know Nothings

by digby

There are a lot of rather depressing findings in this latest Pew knowledge poll, including the fact the while 75% of the public knows that the Republicans 'won" the last election, only 46% know they only won the House of Representatives. I joked before election day that a lot of Tea Partiers were going to be upset to find out that Barack Obama was still president on the day after, but I didn't think it might actually be true.

As much fun as it is to contemplate that, I think these results are fairly understandable. Many people don't vote and even those who do find politics an abstract, irrelevant subject most of the time. So they caught the general gist of the fact that the GOP won big, but the details of that didn't penetrate. Obama's still president, after all, so it's not as if there's been a wholesale changing of the guard.They pretty much got it right.

I think this may be the most revealing bit of info from the poll:

Overall, 39% of the public know that the government spends more on national defense than on education, Medicare or interest on the national debt. About one-in-four (23%) say the government spends more on interest payments and 15% say Medicare is the largest expenditure of these four alternatives. Government accounting estimates indicate that the government spends about twice as much on defense than on Medicare, and more than four times as much on defense as on interest on the debt.

More Democrats (46%) than Republicans (28%) know that the government spends more on national defense than the other items listed. Republicans are as likely to say the government spends most on interest on the debt (29%) as on defense (28%). A plurality of independents (44%) know that the government spends most on national defense.

Not even a majority of Democrats know that defense is the big budget item apparently, although some of that may be an unwillingness to admit it after having been mau-maued by the right for years about being soft on national security and always wanting to cut defense. Whatever the case, this is more evidence proving that deficit fear among the people (to the extent it actually exists) is just a proxy for generalized economic angst, which the Catfood Commissars and their wealthy benefactors are using to advance their own agenda. If the public doesn't even know the vague parameters of where their tax dollars are going, how can they possibly know that it's a waste?*

*That's rhetorical, of course. Many people take it on faith that their money is going to people who don't deserve it, which is why they want tax cuts for themselves and spending cuts for whomever they personally believe are undeserving parasites. But in a sane world such things would not be part of any discussion of spending priorities.