Logical or Emotional Government?

In a previous comment, Bartholomew says:

Hey, Joe. I’d be curious how a real Obama supporter would do by taking this test:


Yes, it’s an anti-obama site, so that’s why I’m curious how you’d do.

Hats off to Bartholomew for admitting it’s an anti-Obama site. And, no doubt, there are plenty of anti-McCain sites posing similar tests and questionaires. That being said, I took the test, and I got the following results:

You AGREED with the Barack Obama position on 36 of the 48 test questions. This means you agree with the Obama position 75% of the time.

The problem I have with the test is that it amounts to a push poll, spreading slanted information and partial truths about a candidate under the guise of seeking the opinion of the person being surveyed.

Now, I’m not the most informed person in the world, but I daresay I’m a heckuva lot more politically informed than the majority of Americans, just because I’m a bit of a political news junkie. (Likewise, I’m more context ignorant than American sports junkies, or gardening junkies, or theatre junkies.) And I see this test geared to skew the opinions of less-informed Americans because, instead of informing the less-informed, it pushes them to an emotional reaction. And, I’m from the camp that the best decisions are based on logic, not emotion.

Logical vs Emotional Decisions

A major difference I’ve noticed between the style of governing preferred by many Obama supporters, as opposed to the preference of many McCain supporters, boils down to this: the McCain camp prefers decisions based on emotion, while the Obama camp prefers decisions based on logic.

Emotion-based governing uses moral arguments and idealogical lines drawn in the sand to justify a selfish action that can’t be justified with logic, whereas a logical government style uses statistics and asks: “despite moral shortcomings or hard feelings, what works?”

I’ll use some questions from the test pointed out by Bartholomew to explain why I favor Obama’s logical decision-making style rather than McCain’s emotional-based style, why I disagree with the most popular responses to some of the test questions, and why I think the questions mislead under the guise of informing…

Question 3: Offshore Drilling

For starters, let’s take question number three:

3. “How do you feel about increased drilling for oil and natural gas offshore in U.S. waters? Do you strongly favor, mildly favor, mildly oppose or strongly oppose increased offshore drilling?”

This is a guiding “push poll” type of question.

First, it asks how I feel about increased offshore drilling. I support offshore drilling, conditionally but not unconditionally…but answering the question doesn’t allow a person to clarify conditions, and the uninformed don’t know there should be a clarification. My answer is also “no,” because I don’t favor increased offshore drilling if that implies unconditionally giving oil companies more offshore leases.

A more truthful and relevant question would be: “Oil companies now sit on nearly 10,000 unused permits from the Bureau of Land Management that they could use immediately to drill for oil. Do you favor making oil companies “use it or lose it” before granting them additional leases to drill offshore?”

I think the question, framed this way, appeals more to logic instead of emotion. I also think it would receive more negative answers, and during the campaign, I’ve seen Obama repeatedly reframe questions to emphasize logical thinking over emotional reactions. In my opinion, the negative answer to this question is the answer that “works” despite it going against the emotional knee-jerk positive answer given by most people to the question as it was originally framed.

Note: If I wanted to do a bit of push polling myself, I’d add a little something to elicit an emotional reaction favoring my own position, such as the fact that over its lifetime, an average Gulf of Mexico offshore rig dumps about 90,000 tons of drilling fluid and metal cuttings into the ocean. If I wanted to tip into logic again, I’d research how 90,000 tons compares to the billions of tons of pollution coming into the Gulf via the Mississippi River.

On to another question…

Tax on Foreign Ethanol

Question number 5:

5. The US currently adds a tariff of 54 cents on each gallon of imported ethanol from countries like Brazil in an effort to protect American companies producing ethanol from corn. The tariff is passed on to the consumer in the form of higher fuel prices. Should this tariff on imported ethanol be eliminated?

Another difference I’ve noticed about McCain supporters: they want short-term fixes, regardless of long-term cost. Obama supporters tend to believe it’s time to quit putting Band-Aids on catastrophic problems and implement long-term solutions.

Most people responded that they want to end the foreign ethanol tax. But what if, instead of answering based on their emotional reaction to higher fuel costs, they were posed an equally valid emotional question with an opposite slant:

    Lifting the 54 cent tax on imported ethanol will increase demand for imported ethanol, which will send more of your dollars to the Brazillian ethanol industry, potentially resulting in more of the Amazon rainforest being cleared to grow more sugarcane. Do you support the destruction of the Amazon rainforest in order to supply yourself with cheap fuel, or do you support using the 54 cent tax to fund American-made green energy solutions (are you an environmentally-feckless traitor or not)?

Again, I’m guessing that the responses to this question would diverge hugely from the responses to the original question.

How about one more…

Raising Taxes

Question number three from the Tax category:

3. Do you favor or oppose raising the top tax rate on the self-employed from 37.9% to 54.9%?

According to the results, 85% oppose raising this tax rate. But what if the same question had been asked this way:

    3. Do you favor or oppose raising the top tax rate on the self-employed from 37.9% to 54.9%?

Granted, that would get different results, and begs a little more logical consideration than most people’s knee-jerk innitial reaction. Furthermore, what if the same question were posed this way:

    About 2% of self-employed Americans make over $250,000 profit, after expenses, from their small businesses. Do you support increasing the tax rate on these Ferrari-driving day traders and real-estate dealers who are dumping a quarter of a million dollars per year into their non-Cayman island account, after expenses, even though it may force these rich elite to forego one or more tax-deferred week-long “business” retreats to the Ritz-Carlton luxury spa resort in Half Moon Bay? Or would you prefer more of their profits were invested in the infrastructure of the great country that allowed them to live such hedonistic lives while their country is fighting two wars?

You already know my answer. I agree with “that one.”

[tags]election 2008, push poll, Barack Obama[/tags]

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