Sunday, May 13, 2012

Rational Choices

Survey results show Americans favor reducing defense spending* by 18 percent.  What is especially interesting for me is the methodology. This is not some simple yes or no survey.  Participants are asked to learn, understand and think.
Smith and his co-authors stress that they designed the study to make participants—who they said were a representative sample—as well informed as possible: they provided context, information and detailed, opposing viewpoints for each part of the budget, replicating budget deliberations as they actually happen in Congress and the White House. Participants considered type of spending—for each divisions of the armed forces, weapons programs, military health care, etc.—and decided whether it was worth, say, spending more money on special ops (yes!) or a new $1 trillion fighter jet (no way). 


survey participants were given more background: for example, they were shown how defense spending compared to all other kinds of government spending, and how current spending compares historically. Then, they had the ability to specify exactly how they’d treat different types of spending.
Imagine.  Informed people making informed decisions.  Compare the results of that process with the stay-the-course military spending of our national officeholders. 

(*)  The sanitized term for war and militarism



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