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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13 Responses to Logical or Emotional Government?

  1. Bartholomew says:

    It’s very interesting to me that both sides use the “logical vs. emotional” argument. Thanks for taking a look at the test. I am not a supporter of either obama or mccain, but I disagreed with obama in 41 of 48 questions.

  2. JoeC says:

    Looking at some links while writing this post, I ran across some studies that suggest no matter how much logic humans use to make decisions, our emotions are always the motivating factor when the brain “pulls the trigger” and actually makes the decision. As you pointed out, both sides have valid arguments that they’re on the correct side of emotion vs logical, and being human, we’re probably all a lot more on the emotional side of decision making than we know. What does it all mean? I don’t know…but it is interesting to think about.

  3. Xman says:

    Great job, Joe. Thanks.
    Bart, If you were sincere, I apologize.

  4. Bartholomew says:

    Quite alright, Xman.

  5. This election is turning my purple to green.

  6. Pelmo says:

    Joe tell me you don’t really belive the crap that middle income people are going to get a tax break. The middle class has always paid the most and will continue to do so no matter who is elected.

    They may pass a silly law that appears to increase the tax on the rich, but at the same time a dozen loop holes will be added to the tax code to ensure that they end up paying even less.

  7. JoeC says:

    So, if there is a candidate promising to shoot me in the head, and there is another candidate promising he won’t shoot me in the head, you’re telling me I should vote for the candidate promising to shoot me in the head because the other candidate is probably lying? Sorry, I don’t really follow…with Obama, there is a chance, however small. With McCain, there is, by his own admission, none. He’s promised to give rich folks the breaks and let their prosperity roll downhill, but as we recently witnessed, crap — not prosperity — is what rolled downhill from this practice for the last 8 years.

    Tell you what…I am making less than $250,000 this year, and I’ll likely be making less than $250,000 for the next four years (there’s always the chance that hyperinflation may kick in…) If Obama does pull off the election, and I don’t see a tax cut by the time his first term is up, I will make a full post crow-eating apology to you and apologize for being such a big fool gullible sucker :-) Deal?

  8. What happens when the people seeing through fog of false constructs reaches critical mass? What then? Will there be some form of Hundredth Monkey phenomenon occur leaving us all wise-eyed and blinking with our new view?

    For instance, the Income Tax. What was originally a temporary fix has become an arcane and out of control institution, which no one fully comprehends or seems to remember the history of, or original purpose.

    But then how could we pay all those Pentagon/Haliburton/KBR contracts building our bombs, paving our roads and swelling Dubai bank accounts, thus making our passage to our next fleecing all the smoother?

    At least, a new angle on things might show us an opening.

  9. Pelmo says:

    It’s a deal Joe.

    I take it as a slap in the face as they prepare for a big rally here in Chicago, and I read that a special VIP tent is being set up for the big donors. So the way I see it, the more we are promised of a big change, the more they remain the same.

  10. Xman says:

    Hey Pelmo,
    Heres how I try to do it.
    Support whoever is elected in the areas I can and then push for change/hold their feet to the fire in areas I can’t support them.

    I thank the lucky stars I am more about ideas than ideologies…otherwise I’d just be a junk yard dog.

  11. libhomo says:

    Personally, I would like to see a ban on any further offshore drilling. It won’t make any significant difference in gas and heating oil prices, but it will prevent oil spills that will devastate coastal economies.

  12. Oil on the beaches is obscene.

    The entire oil industry is obscene. I irrationally feel a little responsible, and personally slimed by it…as I, ostensibly, grew up in the thick of it.

    We are clever enough to move past polluting forms of energy, once we figure out how to move past the polluting power of money.

  13. pelmo says:

    I agree a 110% percent with you Xman. Have to support them and demand that they come thru on their promises.

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