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Science

How Voter Shortsightedness Skews Elections 269

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-don't-like-the-last-thing-you-did-so-i-don't-like-you dept.
sciencehabit writes "'Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?' Ronald Reagan's famous question in the U.S. presidential election of 1980 is generally a good yardstick for picking a candidate, or at least for judging a leader's economic policies. But few voters follow it. Instead, they are swayed by economic swings in the months leading up to the election, often ignoring the larger trends. Why are we so shortsighted? A psychological study of voting behavior suggests an answer and points to a simple fix. ... Healy and Lenz challenged their subjects to evaluate hypothetical governments based on slightly varying information. For example, some received information expressed as yearly income while others received the same information expressed as a yearly growth rate. The same information in a plot of steadily increasing average personal income over 3 years—$32,400, $33,100, $33,800—can also be expressed as a steadily decreasing rate of growth—3%, 2.3%, 2.1%. That did the trick. Just changing the units of the data was enough to cure voter fickleness. When economic trends were expressed as yearly income rather than rates of change, the subjects made accurate judgments. But if the same information was expressed as a change over time—the bias reappeared."
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How Voter Shortsightedness Skews Elections

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:19PM (#46155745)

    News at 10

    • by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal@gm a i l . com> on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @06:03PM (#46156335) Homepage Journal

      the researchers themselves dont...from the abstract:

      Voters, we find, actually intend to judge presidents on cumulative growth. However, since that characteristic is not readily available to them, voters inadvertently substitute election-year performance

      blame the candidates and the news media...both are obviously not doing their jobs.

      candidates, because...holy crap they're supposed to be *running* for office. they can't blame others for everything...they are responsible for how they present their case.

      news media...obviously idiots. If you want to call people stupid, call ***NEWS PRODUCERS*** stupid fucking idiots. You can thrown in the TV company executives in there too. They have *no idea* what they are doing in regards to the 4th Estate & informing the populace.

      I have to fault SoulSkill & all nerds here as well. Its a cop out to say "all people are idiots" as a solution or explanation to every problem. It's reductive and unworthy of our industry. Blaming the user by default *hurts our industry* because it alienates us from the users, and from our own work.

      Systems need correction. Blaming the people the system is designed to serve when a feedback loop occurs is illogical!

      • dont blame the voters

        Don't blame people for their own shortsightedness and stupidity? I think I'll do just that. They should be doing their own research to begin with.

        • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:04PM (#46156991)

          "Don't blame people for their own shortsightedness and stupidity? I think I'll do just that."

          Well, wait, though. If you are going to do that, at least blame them for the correct stupidity, rather than the wrong one.

          It's difficult for many people to "do their own research" if the news is blathering untruths and misleadings all the time. People don't expect the news to lie... and it does, often enough that we should be concerned as a country.

          So yes, people SHOULD do their own research. But 2 things are required before they will do that: (1) they must first be aware that what they were told (or misled to believe) is wrong, and (2) the correct information must be available.

          I assert that condition (1) has all too often not been met.

        • dont blame the voters

          Don't blame people for their own shortsightedness and stupidity? I think I'll do just that. They should be doing their own research to begin with.

          You should be doing your on research as well. Looking things up online doesn't count. You're just reading someone else's research, or a reductive article based on yet another person's research. Until you're going out there and counting the pennies yourself, you're not really baking your own apple pie from scratch.

          99.9999% of people have no choice but to be shortsighted and stupid when all the information presented to them is shortsighted, and stupid (spun, manipulated, or outright wrong). Saying they s

          • You should be doing your on research as well.

            Everyone should. At the very least, they need to be looking at all available sources of information and comparing the data. If people just blindly believe everything, they're just stupid.

            Saying they should have done their own research is about as salient a point

            It's simply the correct answer. People have a choice, and they choose to remain ignorant, thereby proving that they're idiots.

            • What choice do they have? There is no source of information that the average person can access that doesn't already blend information with opinion.

              • by ultranova (717540)

                There is no source of information that the average person can access that doesn't already blend information with opinion.

                There is no source of information that wouldn't be biased, since information is interpreted data and the process of interpretation is dependent on the interpreter and their model of the world. The best you can hope for is that the interpreter shares the model with the eventual recipient, so the message is intelligible.

                The concepts relating to and methdods to deal with information are mud

        • by Rockoon (1252108)

          They should be doing their own research to begin with.

          It is rational to put no effort in voting decisions on a national level because the effort and time required to be informed is much larger than the realized value of your vote. You are one of millions in all but some house races, and then there is that whole electoral college diminishing the value of your vote further.

          What happened yesterday in House or Senate? How did it go? Open a newspaper, turn on the evening news, or cast your eyes on a cable news network, and its a rare day that they report on what

          • I'm not sure I disagree overall, Rockoon, but this point is incorrect:

            While the channels disagree in an opinionated way, they still report on the exact same set of stories.

            Not at all true.

            That's like comparing home-made preserves from your garden to those packets of jelly you get at the diner.

            Like comparing a T-bone steak to a tofu-burger.

            Like...

            you get it...your problem is false equivalence. If you look at content, MSNBC and Fox News report on many stories that the other does not...in fact, they differ al

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        Kingdom for a mod point. That is about as informative and insightful as slashdot can get.

  • Not quite that (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:20PM (#46155755) Homepage Journal
    It's not

    are you better off now than you were 4 years ago

    that drives my selection. The matter for me is closer to

    • which candidate on the ballot will harm you the least
    • by khasim (1285)

      And bringing it back to TFA, people (in general) are bad at using math to figure out which option is (least damaging / most advantageous) for them.

      • The data they provided is not enough to decide most advantageous. For that, you need TWO numbers in the graph- average cost of living and average wages. Either one alone isn't enough- both political parties know that, so both political parties concentrate on only one number.

        Rate of growth kind of tries to measure average cost of living, but the relationship to wages and actual cost of living is too complex for the average voter.

        • Re:Not quite that (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:36PM (#46156017) Homepage Journal

          One thing which increases inefficiency in the system is wild swings from one extreme to the the other. A path of moderation gets more lasting things done.

        • Any economist making a chart like that would factor in inflation, which is basically the same thing as you're talking about. But the bigger problem is: "average earnings" is a meaningless number, since you're not dealing with a homogenous group. If Bill Gates gets a 50% pay raise, and 100 janitors get a 50% pay cut, then the average national income will rise. Understanding these things takes only basic math skills, but a lot of voters lack these skills, and the journalists can't be bothered to explain.

    • Re:Not quite that (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:26PM (#46155855) Homepage Journal

      It's not

      are you better off now than you were 4 years ago

      that drives my selection. The matter for me is closer to

      • which candidate on the ballot will harm you the least

      Pretty much sums up my voting. I look for whomever I figure is most qualified - this doesn't mean is qualified , but that hedges toward someone who might actually have some idea what the F they are doing, rather than being an utter tool and electing candidates based upon Hot Button (sucker) issues, like guns, abortion, creeping socialism, etc.

    • In the end you're still voting for a candidate that will harm you. Further, the more people who vote for them the more their office is legitimized.

      This current president is a huge joke, but he's very much legitimate because people voted for him, even if they don't like him.

      Honestly I'm not even bothering with the elections anymore. It's pretty much just a new form of strange entertainment, similar to most people's interest in the sex offender registries.

      I think a more meaningful ballot is probably the one t

    • The matter for me is closer to

      Then you are shortsighted and only seek to maintain the status quo. I know voting for candidates you actually like and that actually seem to care about freedom is a crazy idea, but just try it.

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      Indeed, that shows the reality of the modern Western democracy - voters do not get to choose who they would want. They get to choose from pool of candidates which often contains no truly desirable candidates for voters, but since voters know that one of these candidates will get the job regardless, they vote for one they see as least harmful to themselves.

      Not all Western countries are there yet, but most are following US into that political hell hole as US is still widely seen as the leader of democratic mo

  • It's shocking how pervasive this axiom is throughout life.

    • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:36PM (#46156019) Homepage
      But that's exactly what this sort of thing shows is not the case! The data about cognitive biases is robust. This one is a variation of the framing effect http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Framing_effect_(psychology) [wikipedia.org] and the data shows that even smart people as individuals don't do well on such tests. We are all as individuals subject to cognitive biases. What's even worse is that knowing about cognitive biases can even be counterproductive http://lesswrong.com/lw/he/knowing_about_biases_can_hurt_people/ [lesswrong.com] because we are much more prone to see them in other people than in ourselves even though we're all subject to them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Assmasher (456699)

        You're presuming that people usually vote and/or act as individuals. I would argue that they do not. There's clearly a herd mentality, especially when it comes to voting. Why else would so many people develop an 'us versus them' attitude instead of 'me versus them.'

        • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
          Sure, tribalism exists and that's also a problem. But the central issue here is framing effect, and that occurs at an individual level.
    • Indeed!

    • by buswolley (591500)
      They are so effected by framing.

      For example, we mostly agree that anyone can bed anyone over the legal age under the law moral or not, because its a personal matter

      We all mostly agree that we should be able to form contracts with anyone we wish to form a contract. It does not matter if your business partner is a woman or man, gay or not

      So why then in the gay marriage issue do people get in a huff being pro gay marriage or anti-gay marriage?

      The framing around "marriage" and not "freedom to form contract

      • by Assmasher (456699)

        It does seem pretty silly that you can't be married to multiple people (although that's not my cup of tea, one nightmare at a time is quite enough for me...) doesn't it?

        I mean, if each member is aware of previously existing contracts, who cares how many you have?

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Yeah, community where people have multiple wives and then children will have serious genetic issues in just a couple of generations. So there is a reason for not allowing it.

          • by buswolley (591500)
            Umm, there are many cultures with polygamy.
          • Yeah, community where people have multiple wives and then children will have serious genetic issues in just a couple of generations.

            I see no reason that that would be the case, but I really couldn't care less. If people choose to do such things, it's their choice.

            So there is a reason for not allowing it.

            So, then, you are in favor of restricting the freedom of consenting people in exchange for safety. How brave and free you must be.

          • by buswolley (591500)
            Smart successful people tend to have fewer children, and children tend to be born when the parent is older. Children from older parents have a greater chance of DNA mutation/errors, which then enter into the population.

            doh

          • Are you sure you're not confusing polygamy with incest? Polygamy has been the dominant system throughout human history. It is only sort of recently that monogamy is gaining in popularity.
    • A person can indeed be smart, but the number of people who actually are smart is absolutely minuscule.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:23PM (#46155803) Homepage Journal

    People are stupid and are unqualified to vote.

    The downside of this, is if people didn't have the vote then very, very evil people would take control.

    So think of it this way, we get some dumb leaders; we get some idiotic leaders; we get some bad legislation and we get some self defeating legislation, BUT we can turn around and push it out and replace it with something else.

    Under an evil dictator we're stuck until the dictator dooms us with one of the classic blunders -- getting involved in a land war in Asia.

    • The downside of this, is if people didn't have the vote then very, very evil people would take control.

      Um, have you seen who the "people" have been electing?

      • Um, have you seen who the "people" have been electing?

        Shhhh - you're gonna ruin the propaganda he was fed in 7th grade civics. Next thing you'll do is start citing counter examples and using data - you monster!

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Under an evil dictator we're stuck until the dictator dooms us with one of the classic blunders -- getting involved in a land war in Asia.

      Of course, no democratic leader would ever make that mistake, right? How soon we forget ...

    • by fnj (64210)

      if people didn't have the vote then very, very evil people would take control

      People have the vote in most places, and very, very evil people have taken control widely anyway.

      Before the objection, let me add this. I take this to mean, not that the vote does not matter, but that the vote alone is not enough. A good constitution (e.g., US) is a safeguard, but only if it is observed. The evil people who have seized control are in open defiance of the constitution (they are nothing if not reasonably clever in te

  • Decreasing growth means that inflation will eventually outpace wage growth, so greater income is not equal to more buying power.

    I miss the days when enough of slashdot knew c syntax that I could just write !=

  • by ZahrGnosis (66741) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:30PM (#46155917) Homepage

    Most voters stick with long-standing ideals that they think will work long-term -- most people will poll to the same party over and over. Only a small percentage of people that are willing to break with their party could be influenced this way (unless their party was doing something particularly silly near a vote). Swing voters matter, of course, but this article generalizes something that is not generally true.

  • Obligatory Pynchon (Score:4, Insightful)

    by srussia (884021) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:32PM (#46155951)
    "'If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers."
  • by nman64 (912054) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:36PM (#46156011) Homepage

    None of us is as dumb as all of us.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      I thought that this applies to meetings [despair.com].
      The election and the results of it seems better summarized by If you thing the problems we create are bad, [despair.com]

      For the impatients (or less inclined to ponder the nuances) here's my point: it is not entirely the fault of the voting constituients, "absolute-or-rate comparions" won't matter too much if all that's on the different plates to choose from is the same shit in other presentation

  • by RocketRabbit (830691) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:36PM (#46156027)

    The voters make decisions based on the information they are fed. Not the information they *GATHER* by and large, because that is an active process. Most people seem to tune in to the media outlets that favor their political leanings, which are driven by the corporate and special interests that own these media empires. Whether your corporation is Fox, MSNBC, or American Public Media, people are really being spoon-fed an official line that serves somebody else's self-interest, packaged in a way that makes them feel like this media empire puts its own self-interest below that of its audience.

    Part of the problem is that news is a form of entertainment, and in the USA at least, news outlets are legally allowed to deliberately lie to you. Journalists are hypnotists, plain and simple, and if they do tell the truth it is because it happens to align with their employers' interests that day.

    If people were given the tools to understand this game during their formative years, they might be more willing to take the time to independently research the issues they care about, but even this is a stretch. After a long day at the office, most folks want to just sort of zonk out and, tired and often filled with alcohol, the news is turned on and they absorb the day's "news" without a single functioning critical thought neuron in action.

    If I were naive I would suggest some legislative fix to this but knowing how the legislative process works, and its typical results, this would almost inevitably lead to a much worse scenario than that which is being played out right now.

  • A good portion of the voting populace "informs" themselves by switching channels and soaking up whatever the media is feeding them. It's very easy to become blindsided from the real issues by network ratings, paid-for advertising and just plain old lies.

    You have to do some footwork to educate yourself because the elections always come down to one thing: Which end of the sh#t sandwich do you want to take a bite from? There has never a "perfect" choice. People are lazy, don't want to do the work and rely on n

  • by trims (10010) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:46PM (#46156145) Homepage

    The fact that a large majority of voters make judgments on what happens in the immediate past (i.e. 3-4 months) prior to an election, rather than the entire term of office (2, 4, or 6 years for various US Congress/Presidents) is well documented, so no surprise here.

    Much of that has to do with the difficulty virtually all people have distilling a complex, hugely multivariant problem, into easily understood metrics and views. That's not going to change, because even a super genius is going to only be able to accurately remember a half-dozen major points, while there may be as many as several DOZEN relevant metrics/issues that you probably can consider important.

    The proposed solution in the paper is yet another form of a simplification and lie, NOT a real solution. The simple answer is that I see no indication that the claimed "yearly growth" rate is any more accurate than the absolute income. Do the grow rates take into account inflation? (I see no indication they do) What about changes in the job market over those years? What about overall economic indicators? I.e. if the average income managed to grow ANY over the period 2007-2009 (in the middle of the most severe recession in 80 years), then that a huge accomplishment vs say merely keeping up with inflation in 2003. The authors are merely substituting one questionably useful statistic with another (of the same dubious relevance).

    Never trust someone selling you a simple numerical answer to a complex problem. Politicians and Statisticians are both extremely adept at contriving lots of meaning from simple numbers. There's a reason this post is titled the way it is.

    -Erik

  • Flawed Question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tempest_2084 (605915) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:47PM (#46156157)
    I always thought the question "'Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?" was flawed. In my case the answer is Yes, I am better off than I was four years ago but it has nothing to do with the current president. In my case it was a lot of hard work, an advanced degree (which I paid for myself), and a lovely new wife that got me ahead over the last four years. We could have elected Donald Trump, Don King, or Kang and Kodos and I would more than likely be in the exact same position I am now.
    • by rasmusbr (2186518)

      I always thought the question "'Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?" was flawed. In my case the answer is Yes, I am better off than I was four years ago but it has nothing to do with the current president. In my case it was a lot of hard work, an advanced degree (which I paid for myself), and a lovely new wife that got me ahead over the last four years. We could have elected Donald Trump, Don King, or Kang and Kodos and I would more than likely be in the exact same position I am now.

      Statistically speaking that doesn't matter, because there are outliers both ways who are listening.

      The problem is that if Reagan had been fair he would have said "Many of you are better off now than when I entered office mainly because that was early in this boom cycle, a cycle that I have little to no control over."

    • and a lovely new wife that got me ahead over the last four years.

      Apropos flawed questions... pardon my curiosity, but... what did you do with the old one?

      (grin)

      • by Obfuscant (592200)
        You targeted the unnecessary use of one of the two adjectives. I would have asked what he did with the ugly one.
        • by c0lo (1497653)

          You targeted the unnecessary use of one of the two adjectives. I would have asked what he did with the ugly one.

          Naaaah... as I'm well aware by direct experience: beauty it's at best a metastable state. Given enough impulses and pumping... and the system looses all the excitation and falls onto the ground state (ugly, that is). Empirically, seems like a rule that applies no matter the sex, religion, race, etc.

  • Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago is a horrible metric to judge politicians. Policies take a while to implement so a really bad first year that you've inherited could overwhelm the next 33.5 months. The economic cycle can overpower policies anyway. And there are other issues besides personal well-being which seems to over-focus on economic issues. 4 years is both too arbitrary a time frame and too short of a time frame.

    • by fnj (64210)

      It is a fair point. Perhaps a better question is, "do you expect to be better off if the policies favored by this shithead are implemented? - compared to those of the preceding guy, or the new prospect's opponents".

  • I always vote for the candidate who has the nicest smile and mentions God the most.

  • Ironically, income for most Americans has not increased since Reagan became President.

    It is surprising that cutting taxes and reducing regulations for corporations and the wealthy, while undermining unions and cutting government services to everyone else, results in the wealthy getting wealthier and the rest standing still. Who could have imagined such an outcome?

    When will the " trickle down [wikipedia.org]" that Reagan promised start happening? I feel like it could be any day now.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      I'll leave it to economists to debate whether or not "Reaganomics" had an effect one way or another on incomes, but your analysis seems shallow to me. First of all, it neglects the decade of horrendous economics that preceded him. Second, Reagan only served for 8 years. I've never seen any kind of chart showing a correlation between Reagan's policies and wage stagnation - I suspect he simply happened to be President while larger forces were at work.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Most of the GINI coefficient increase since Reagan [wikipedia.org] happened during the Clinton years - when the tech boom/information age started. Trickle down actually worked given the huge increase in median income experienced during the Reagan years [wikipedia.org]. From 1981 to 1989 median income went from ~$45K to ~$50.5K, a solid 10% increase over 8 years. It's increased up to ~$52K since then, a paltry 3% over 25 years.
      • by crunchygranola (1954152) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @08:17PM (#46157645)

        Informative? Seriously?

        LynnwoodRooster seems to have been betting that by stating a lie while providing a couple of links (that refute the lie) most people will assume that that the links actually support it.

        If you follow the GINI link you will find that the both the pre-tax and after-tax GINI DID NOT INCREASE AT ALL [wikipedia.org] during the Clinton years! The rise under Reagan went flat, then resumed its rise again under Bush.

        Also actually look at that median HOUSEHOLD (not individual) curve LR links to. By the end of the Reagan-Bush era it was down to $48K (from 45.5K at the start), a far less impressive 5.5% over 12 years, and the whole reason for the rise was due to the second adult in the household going to work [taxfoundation.org] - since actual wages were flat. [wikimedia.org]

    • We are also not any better off since Carter was elected. Looks like those liberal policies sure fucked us over. When will socialism start to work? I feel like it could be any day now.

      Wow, oversimplifying a complex system was really easy

  • For example, some received information expressed as yearly income while others received the same information expressed as a yearly growth rate. The same information in a plot of steadily increasing average personal income over 3 years—$32,400, $33,100, $33,800—can also be expressed as a steadily decreasing rate of growth—3%, 2.3%, 2.1%. That did the trick. Just changing the units of the data was enough to cure voter fickleness. When economic trends were expressed as yearly income rather than rates of change, the subjects made accurate judgments. But if the same information was expressed as a change over time—the bias reappeared.

    I'm not sure why they say that it "cured" voter fickleness. First of all, it seems to me that in both cases, voters are going along with the picture being painted by the statistics provided. You say, "income continues to rise," and it sounds good. You say, "income growth is slowing," and it sounds bad. The person responding to these statements isn't showing better judgement when they hear one statistic vs another. In both cases, they're dealing with the information uncritically. Outside of any context

  • Neither politicians nor big media will do anything to solve it, they need that people keeps being dumb and manipulable, so they keep voting/buying/not complaining/etc, even if the country have no future that way. Is up to the people to try to educate themselves and others to know, recognize and try to avoid their own cognitive biases [wikipedia.org], because those are exploited every day.

  • Let me play devil's advocate here. While we can ascribe that to "dumb voter shortsightedness", wouldn't it also be true to say that if you can ascribe economic performance to a president at all, their effect on things would be much more heavily weighted towards the recent past anyway?

    Early term performance would likely be out of their hands, and my assumption would be that they want to get reelected and would try hard to eke out some benefit before election season. If you can't bring out the big performance

  • by Poisonous Drool (526798) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @06:12PM (#46156425)
    "A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship."
  • That's only half the problem. The other half is the shortsightedness of those elected.

  • for those who do not comprehend the underlying data.

    But if you put the numbers in units that people can relate to, it becomes something they can comprehend and make educated decisions.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:24PM (#46157161) Homepage

    The world is complex and ever changing, nobody can with any real confidence say what four years with the "other guy" would have been like even in retrospect. Across electrions it's almost hopeless, each president starts under completely different circumstances and the global economy, technology and science, it all changes rapidly.

    It's mostly a belief in whether this administration did better or worse than the alternative(s?) and more often than not on ideology about what the "right thing" is. Could the financial recession been handled better? Would it been handled worse? Could it have been avoided in the first place? Those who lean towards left say there should have been more regulation because it's a failure of the free market. Those who lean right say the regulation and bailouts was the problem because they didn't let the free market work. Nobody can prove the other side wrong, it'd be so much easier if we ever got the true answers.

    For example, it's easy to have money "right now" even for a country, just go deeper in debt. Taxes stay low, services stay high, none of those unpopular tax hikes or cutbacks. Until shit hits the fan to smaller or greater degrees, at least. All this really tells you is that you better have bread and circus the last months leading up to an election, somehow that wisdom seems ancient. You dump shit on future generations and future politicians that start with a shit economy, but as long as you can keep shoveling it in front of you it's better than dealing with it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The question asked by Reagan represents a dangerously short-sighted mindset. For example, it is possible to temporarily boost economic activity by lowering taxes and interest rates and/or increasing spending, but this is not without its dangers. For example, much of the apparent prosperity of the Bush Jr. years was a result of a completely unsustainable real estate bubble. If you follow this through to its logical conclusion, you can see why budget deficits have been the rule with the economy lurching from

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