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Public Opinion I: Policies and Questions

Chapter
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Abstract

Polls assessing public appetites for social welfare typically center on generalities, for example, “health care” or “assisting the poor,” not precise policy options. The usual list of response choices is likewise vague, often little more than “favor” or “oppose” government facilitation, while spending levels are usually reduced to the simplistic three-part “more,” “same” or “less.” To reiterate our idée fixe, these inquiries minimize potential negatives, especially costs, and thus painlessly promote strong support for unrealistic options. They tell policymakers almost nothing save, perhaps, the publics abstract compassion. Moreover, nearly any legislative proposal might be construed as advancing any diffuse aim (for example, excluding government completely from health might, conceivably, enhance overall healthiness). While such data are “real” in the sense of truthfully expressing public desires, and, indeed, may usefully portray “moods,” this methodological orthodoxy offers but conjectural or even misguided counsel. As mentioned in Chapter Two, unrestrained “wishes” are confused with hard choices.

Keywords

Class Size Public Opinion Small Class Charter School Policy Domain 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Robert Weissberg 2002

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