Diana Mutz’s 2006 book Hearing the Other Side paints a bleak picture of American politics. Among twelve nations compared, US folks most perceive that the two people (besides their spouse) they most talk to are politically partisan, and agree with them. (These two factors are strongly correlated across nations. Hong Kong and Japan are at the other extreme.) In fact, only 34% of people in the US talk regularly to someone who they think disagrees with them politically, and "only 23 percent of Americans could recall having a political conversation with someone who disagreed with them."
I gather that even as of 2007 that this polarization was happening, and a cause of a fair amount of problems but I question the good taste in vieweing moderate, lower-class, black america, which based on this post seems to be actually the glue holding America together, as "bad news". This seems to be a hidden feature of your country, not a bug; a potential cause of hope, not dispair.
"I'd say that's one data point that goes directly against the assertion made in Robin's article. ;)"
But at least in this one little blog he can make it so. ;)
Robin, I lived in San Francisco for a number of years. I was registered as a Republican (the only one in my precint) and my friends knew that I voted Libertarian.I didn't know a lot of people who agreed with me politically. (understatement)I'd be at some gathering and politics would come up and the people had no problem talking about politics because there was a general agreement. Someone would ask what I thought-- trouble.My friend would say, "oh he's OK, his business partner is gay," or, "he lives with an African-American," or, "he hires homeless people," or some other unexpected but true statement.As soon as I was viewed as an individual with ideas (as opposed to an idea masquerading as an individual) then conversation could occur.My experience would indicate that people talk to other people about politics if there is agreement, and they tend to view those that don't agree with them as a "foolish mass"- not as individuals. (red states and blue states being a manifestation of this)Nobody wants to talk to a foolish mass.
It's not surprising that counties tend to be purple; the ideal gerrymandered districts would be ones that are either won by the smallest possible margin (and always by the same party) or by 100% of the vote.
hrh: "I've noticed that there is quite a geographic differential in political beliefs, both from where I've lived and from the 2000/2004 election results by county ... you can see that people who disagree with each other politically are already fiarly well separate from each other."
I've heard it argued persuasively that such maps are misleading because they display a binary red-or-blue picture, with fairly poor resolution, of what is in fact a relatively shaded area.
Just because a county is red or blue doesn't mean it doesn't have say 40% of minority voters.
I find it slightly ironic that this topic, which started out with the assertion that educated moneyed folk don't debate politics with people who disagree with them, devolved into a generic and heated political discussion so fast that Robin decided to snip a few posts. Judging by the general lack of spelling errors in comments here, I'd say that we're educated, and having internet access and the time to spend on sites like these, we probably don't lack the money either. I'd say that's one data point that goes directly against the assertion made in Robin's article. ;)
In the U.S., professionals tend to support the Democrats and business owners tend to support the Republicans. Perhaps we need to make all the professionals deal with business regulations and send all the business owners to college. More seriously, your comment about mixing of views is consistent with the findings of Robert Putnam ("bowling alone") about upper-income Americans having more "horizontal" associations that are geographically diverse but within their social class, and fewer "vertical" associations that are local but of all social classes. The challenge, as you suggest, is that being with people like us is comfortable, so to the extent people can afford to move out to the suburbs and hang out with similarly-inclined folks, maybe they'll do so.
Interesting statistics. It certainly is my experience that political opinions that many would describe as "bitter" are increasing in income, (marginally) decreasing in family size, and highest among whites. I've noticed that there is quite a geographic differential in political beliefs, both from where I've lived and from the 2000/2004 election results by county
you can see that people who disagree with each other politically are already fiarly well separate from each other.
Even within urban areas that are quite diverse, the basic social institutions that people associate with are different. People who volunteer or belong to a church tend to do so with organizations that fit within their set of political beliefs. I would speculate that the place where people are most likely to encounter, on a long term basis, someone with whom they disagree politically would be the workplace, where the rules of polite society frown upon talking about politics.
Somewhat relatedly, I think that this situation leads to vacuity in our political rhetoric. People with very narrow views or little knowledge about ideas that they disagree with can simply mention an opposing idea without negative comment, or simply suggest reading a book or engaging with an idea with which they disagree and pass for being very broad-minded, centrist, or moderate. But I think that outside such a polarized society, it would take much more than an occasional passing comment to convince people of such a quality or disposition.
I just unpublished three generic politics comments.
Anonymous: "The truth is that taxes have some effect but utterly minuscule compared to what libertarians say. There is a heck of a lot that government can do with taxes that will be worth it. Were it not for government "coercion" we probably still wouldn't have things like roads or electricity or running water now. (All three are natural monopolies.)"
Ugh. This is so stupid. I have the urge to answer that, but the author _has_ expressed his desire that we should stop this discussion. So I won't. But I have to say that this is terribly ignorant, and just leave it at that.
J. Thomas: "And then the Depression. A whole lot of blighted lives, sacrificed to the Business Cycle. Can we blame that on communists? I don't think so."
Certainly so. The depression wouldn't now have a capital D if Hoover hadn't bungled it with what retrospectively are horribly misconceived measures. He introduced the Smoot-Hawley tarrifs, which "raised U.S. tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods to record levels, and, in the opinion of most economists, worsened the Great Depression. Many countries retaliated, and American exports and imports plunged by more than half."
Then followed Roosevelt, whose planned economy socialist programmes and war on business failed to heal the economy until after World War II.
The depression was as bad in 1937 as it was in 1930. That wasn't the work of the business cycle. That was entirely the work of politicians who were copying planned economy ideas taken directly from Italy, Germany and Russia where the same kinds of things were happening at the time.
The fact that, even today, the depression _still_ gets blamed on the "business cycle" and that Roosevelt is hailed as a "hero" who cured it is downright preposterous. By and large, I think you have ignorant teachers and newsmakers, most of them infected with socialist biases, to thank for that.
J. Thomas: "But the terrorists drove us crazy,"
What? They reached into the average Americans' minds and drove everyone crazy? :)
No, I think the predisposition was pretty much already there. :)
You don't blame others for your own overreactions. The terrorists killed 3,000 people and demolished a few buildings. That's what they did. Everything else, all of the other damage done, which vastly exceeds the damage done by the terrorists themselves - that was all of your own doing.
But as Robin Hanson says, his post was not a generic invitation to talk about politics, and following up to what Constant said about data points, I think I've already provided enough of those for my part. I'll be butting out of the political discussion from now.
"You are overwhelmingly underestimating the damage that the socialists are doing... due to endemic socialism, developed countries are losing 5-10 percentage points of annual GDP growth." Nice, if only it were true. All the real-world evidence goes against what you're saying. In the 1950s, the income tax rate for the highest bracket in the US was over 90%! If there was any truth at all in the libertarian claims, taxing the rich like that would have at least caused another Great Depression. But it didn't.
What's the richest country in the world? Surely it's some place with a nice impotent government, like Iraq? Nope, it's semi-socialist Norway; the fact that their government is around half of the economy obviously hasn't hurt them too much. They have oil, but so do Russia and Mexico - both currently much more libertarian countries, and both a good deal poorer.
The truth is that taxes have some effect but utterly minuscule compared to what libertarians say. There is a heck of a lot that government can do with taxes that will be worth it. Were it not for government "coercion" we probably still wouldn't have things like roads or electricity or running water now. (All three are natural monopolies.) If you want to live without a government go head for Somalia, it must be a real paradise if libertarian propaganda is right.
Denis's experience, and his approach to dealing with acquaintances and friends, and his openness to online discussion with the opposition, resembles mine, and he appears not to be an American. This suggests that the situation, the intellectual environment, that gives rise to this approach is not specifically American. This may, in turn, mean that we should not accept the differing "perceptions" at face value, in a between-country comparison.
Denis, your scope is too narrow. Anything that reduces the rate of increase of world GDP is the problem about "deprived of an enormous amount of what could have been".
WWI itself was a tremendous retardation. Consider the many many people who died, who would otherwise have had long lifetimes working. A giant waste. And then the Depression. A whole lot of blighted lives, sacrificed to the Business Cycle. Can we blame that on communists? I don't think so. We had lots of bad depressions before that, and each of them resulted in lots of lost production.
_But I personally, and our developed societies at large, have experienced _much_ less damage from the terrorists than from the socialists. The most the terrorists have done is blow up two buildings and cause a few billion in damage._
But the terrorists drove us crazy, so that we're wasting lots and lots of money on DHS, and on occupying iraq and afghanistan, and so on. Without the terrorists we probably wouldn't have been crazy enough to go along with those things. When you consider how fast another 1% of GDP increase increases at compound interest ... Don't these wars plus DHS amount to 5% of GDP or more? That could all be put into increasing GDP if we had the will to do that. Or into wealth for citizens including you personally.
BTW, people have been pointing out and talking about the "echo chamber" phenomenon for quite a while.
Robin - we're just trying to provide data. :-)