February 4, 2009
The strange thing about public opinion
By James Wilson

Quote of the Day: "Economic growth is the result of creating new wealth, not redistributing existing wealth." -- Jeff Jacoby

Subject: The strange thing about public opinion

Polls suggest weak public support for the "stimulus" package. Only a minority favors it, while the majority either opposes it, or is undecided.

This is amazing given the constant drumbeat for the bill. It raises an important question. Where would we be if the case against the "stimulus" was heard to the same extent as the arguments for it?

We constantly lose debates because our arguments aren't heard. And yet, the strange thing about public opinion is that our positions constantly do well in polls even though our arguments aren't heard.

This suggests to us that we could win on issue after issue if only we could organize and activate the latent natural support for our positions. Better yet, we believe we could increase that support far above its current level.

If our message was seen and heard by everyone, everywhere, every day, we might even be able to forge a social consensus.

In the current case, if only a small portion of those who oppose this bill were to expend time and money making the case against it the playing field would be leveled. We believe this would move public opinion solidly against the "stimulus" package.

If everyone who opposes this bill were to pressure their elected representatives to reject it, the "stimulus" package wouldn't stand a snowball's chance in hell. We'd have a repeat of what happened with the immigration bill, when public pressure defeated the bill and nearly brought one Senator to tears.

It should be embarrassing that so many Americans could work-up the motivation to act against an immigration bill, but remain silent on this "stimulus" package, which is, by any measure, vastly more important. We have met the enemy and they are us.

We firmly believe that victory can be ours, if only we will seek it. The path to victory for DC Downsizers is two-fold . . .

  • Maintain constant pressure on Congress
  • Ask your friends to do the same

It's a simple fact. You know many people who oppose this stimulus bill, or who would oppose it if you shared with them a few arguments against it, like those we've presented in previous Dispatches. All they might need to take action is to know that you have taken action. Here's another argument you can use . . .

FDR tried massive "stimulus" spending to end the Great Depression. The public works budget was so large that Harold Ickes, the man charged with spending it, described it this way . . .

"It helped me to estimate its size by figuring that if we had it all in currency and should load it into trucks, we could set out with it from Washington for the Pacific Coast, shovel off one million dollars at every milepost and still have enough left to build a fleet of battleships."

And yet, despite the "one million dollars of stimulus per mile," unemployment never dropped below double digits. It's said that no experiment is a failure, because even negative outcomes can teach you what NOT to do. But this is only true if you heed the results of the experiment.

Thank you for being part of the Downsize DC Army,

Jim Babka
President, Inc.

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