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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Washington: Deaf to the Will of the People

The founder of our company, Dr. George Gallup (1901-1984), was once named one of the top 100 most influential people in American history by The Atlantic magazine. The publication included him among George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and many other luminaries. He made the list because he’s the pioneer of a critical part of democracy, modern public opinion polling.

Dr. Gallup had a simple mission: “If democracy is supposed to be based on the will of the people, someone should find out what that will is.”

His concern was this: If there isn’t a systematic way to gauge the biggest problems facing the American people, then we run the risk of having leaders on the wrong page, making the wrong assumptions, creating the wrong policies, and thus making the country worse off. Dr. Gallup understood that if what the American people want is different from what their leaders want, this could ruin our democracy, our country, and subsequently global human development.

His concern is as relevant today as it’s ever been. All we seem to hear from Washington leadership right now are debates over immigration, the minimum wage, the environment, and healthcare. That’s where our leaders are spending their precious time and energy. Yet we’re hearing nothing about strategies for creating badly needed new, good jobs -- which is exactly what the American people are most worried about.

Americans recently told Gallup that unemployment/jobs and the economy in general are the most important problems facing the country (43% of respondents combined). Healthcare -- which we seem to hear about all the time -- came in at 15%. Immigration, another issue that seems to consume the president and Congress, was way down on the list -- only 6% in the U.S. cited it as the country’s top problem. In an earlier poll, relatively few Americans mentioned raising minimum wage as the best way to fix the U.S. economy, and the environment didn’t even make the list.

We are exactly where Dr. Gallup feared we’d be. There’s a sprawling and alarming gap between the will of the people and the focus of their leadership. The will of the American people is to have a good job. I guess our leaders don’t know that.

Right now, 75% of Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country. Is anyone surprised?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...
March 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM  

Then explain the disconnect between this poll and the way the American people feel "vs" the way they vote!

Dr. Gene Nelson said...
March 12, 2014 at 1:04 AM  

I agree strongly with your commentary. "Yet we’re hearing nothing about strategies for creating badly needed new, good jobs -- which is exactly what the American people are most worried about." is an excellent summary of the problem. I hope that our leaders will pay attention - and that it will not require the bloody, lethal riots that occurred during the depths of the Great Depression to have our leaders make constructive economic policy changes.

Kenton H Johnson said...
March 17, 2014 at 12:23 AM  

Reading "Jobs War," and it is both enlightening, motivating and scary at the same time.

We heard "create jobs" in 2008 and 2012, but that turned out to be for "shovel ready," non-sustainable government projects and a tacit reduction of company "skin" on SBA loans), not seeding SMEs that as you say, created 100% of the jobs in the last two decades (90's and 2000's).

The Feds also handed large banks $B's that were used to acquire weaker banks, return the "loan" but didn't free up lending for SMEs much.

Then throw in pending and new SEC rule changes that even confuses financial media as well as your average start-up founder.

The lie continues: "We're from the government, and we are here to help you."

Anonymous said...
March 17, 2014 at 5:22 PM  

I do believe that based on this commentary, that Gallup itself is missing a gigantic opportunity to push the issues that its own polling says people want to hear about. If the news organizations do not devote 43% of their time towards the economy and jobs, maybe Gallup can create a news program that effectively devotes the exact percentage amount of time towards issues as reflected in polling. It could start the program with a poll and devote said percentages of time towards those issues. Just an idea, since no organization is effectively promoting the ideas and issues that most Americans care about. Maybe when the issues most Americans are talked about and presented in the media, we can have genuine progress on moving this country forward.

Anonymous said...
March 17, 2014 at 5:27 PM  

I do believe that based on this commentary, that Gallup itself is missing a gigantic opportunity to push the issues that its own polling says people want to hear about. If the news organizations do not devote 43% of their time towards the economy and jobs, maybe Gallup can create a news program that effectively devotes the exact percentage amount of time towards issues as reflected in polling. It could start the program with a poll and devote said percentages of time towards those issues. Just an idea, since no organization is effectively promoting the ideas and issues that most Americans care about. Maybe when the issues most Americans care about are talked about and presented in the media, we can have genuine progress on moving this country forward.

Anonymous said...
April 8, 2014 at 12:02 PM  

But to devote the public discussion and public policy making to issues described as top of awareness based on polls would be ill advised. It limits which problems get addressed to only those with public awareness. We elect our leaders to lead, not follow.

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