Thursday, September 25, 2008

Three questions

From ABC News, an item confirming Neil Postman's point that the question shapes the answer:

Three new poll questions on the government's response to the financial crisis underscore the power of words — not only in how we understand polls, but in how we choose to describe the events of our day. . . .

The first, from the Pew Research Center, asks about the government "potentially investing" (note: not "spending") billions "to try and keep financial institutions and markets secure." Fifty-seven percent like the idea.

Pew: "As you may know, the government is potentially investing billions to try and keep financial institutions and markets secure. Do you think this is the right thing or the wrong thing for the government to be doing?"

Result: Right 57 percent, Wrong 30 percent.

The second, from the new LA Times/Bloomberg poll, asks if the government should "bail out private companies with taxpayers' dollars." Fifty-five percent don't like the idea — almost the exact opposite of the Pew result.

LAT/Bloomberg: "Do you think the government should use taxpayers' dollars to rescue ailing private financial firms whose collapse could have adverse effects on the economy and market, or is it not the government’s responsibility to bail out private companies with taxpayers’ dollars?"

Result: Should do 31 percent, Should not 55 percent.

The last, our own ABC/Post question, asks what people think of the steps the Fed and Treasury have taken to try to deal with the situation. Answer: Even split

ABC/Post: "Do you approve or disapprove of the steps the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department have taken to try to deal with the current situation involving the stock market and major financial institutions?"

Result: Approve 44 percent, Disapprove 42 percent.
Read it all: Views on the Bailout . . . um, Investment (ABC News)

comments: 1

Eustace Bright said...

Brilliant case in point. Thanks, Michael.