Majority of Americans Say Government Is "Almost Always Wasteful and Inefficient"

From a new Pew Research Center poll, Americans are none-too-impressed with government:

A majority (55%) of Americans say that government is almost always wasteful and inefficient, compared with 39% who think that government often does a better job than people give it credit for.

Half of people surveyed say they prefer a smaller government that provides fewer services, compared to 42% who favor a bigger government that provides more services.

For lots more poll results, don't forget to check out the Reason-Rupe polling project.

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  • Raston Bot||

    I want to grab 55% of America by the throat and scream in their face you EXPLETIVE get what you EXPLETIVE vote for.

  • Dunbar's Number||

    Mass society just doesn't work, because of a neurobiological limit of the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships.

    That limit is called Dunbar's Number.

    Non-State societies work well and are egalitarian and individualistic because humans are evolutionarily adapted to that type of social relations.

    A man's got to know his limitations.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Dunbar's Number is pseudoscience, just like the Uncanny Valley.

  • Libertarian Boys Club||

    Does that make sense to anyone that 14% of Libertarians believe the government is doing a better job that it receives credit for?

  • Mainer||

    well, that's not the same as saying they do a good job.

  • ||

    Perhaps there are Libertarians who are thinking about the complaints about government shutdowns and so forth, and are saying that gridlock isn't nearly as bad as its press clippings.

    Or perhaps it's some of those liberalitarians.

  • JB||

    Conservatives are more libertarian than libertarians. Hilarious.

    No real surprise though. There are a number of one-issue libertarians (just look at all the druggies).

  • Kristen||

    How in the hell did "staunch conservatives" beat "libertarians" on this question?!?!

  • Zombie Jimbo||

    Ask again when a Republican is president, then you'll see.

  • ||

    How (and why) are the libertarians in this survey over twice as satisfied with government than "staunch conservatives"?

    And what exactly is the difference between "New Coalition Dems" and "Solid Liberals"?

  • Joe M||

    There's only one solution for this: abortions for some, miniature American flags for others.

  • Apu Nahasapemawhatever||

    Kang/Kodos 2012

  • Neu Mejican||

    The question sets up a false dichotomy.
    Even if the government is almost always wasteful and inefficient, it can still be true that it is "often" better than people give it credit for. This becomes particularly true if "the majority of Americans think government is almost always wasteful and inefficient."

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Neu Mejican,

    Even if the government is almost always wasteful and inefficient, it can still be true that it is "often" better than people give it credit for.


    You mean one can improve on wastefulness and inefficiency?

    Otherwise, what you say is no better than "but she has a wonderful personality."

  • Mainer||

    Can I have a larger government that provides me more services, paid for with other people's money ?

  • Occupy Your Pocket||

    Working on it!

  • Zombie Jimbo||

    Firstly, exactly what is a Post-Modern, other than a dupe who supported Obama?

    Secondly, can I hit them?

  • Ramsey||

    Does this mean the propaganda is working or that all government is wasteful?

  • Old Mexican||

    Half of people surveyed say they prefer a smaller government that provides fewer services, compared to 42% who favor a bigger government that provides more services.


    Looks like we're in trouble, for 42% of the people have deluded themselves into believing that the government provides actual services.

  • Ramsey||

    Cure for polio, national defense, interconnected and interstate system of highways, development of nuclear power and weapons, velcro, tang, etc.

    Yep, government flat out sucks and should be abolished. My money is my money, and in now way is protected by the governmental monopoly on force.

    Hey OM, does your shoulder get sore swinging that broad brush?

    Government is a tool. It can be wielded poorly or wisely. Balance in all things.

  • sarcasmic||

    When someone speaks of limited government, argue against no government at all.

    Bring up things that came about with the aid of government funds, and argue that those things could never ever have possibly happened without government money.

    Then accuse the other person of painting with a broad brush.

    Got it.

  • Ramsey||

    I did not make the assertion that government provides no "actual services"

    Emphasis preserved.

    Sorry for your confusion. Must be the lead and cadmium in the toys provided by the free market.

    Like I said, some government is good, some is not. Balance...

  • sarcasmic||

    How do you strike that balance?

    Libertarians have principles that can be applied to all cases.
    For example when government can commit acts that would be criminal if committed by a citizen, then government has gotten out of hand.
    Or a separation of economy and state.

    Do you have any principles?
    Or do you go by how you feel on a case by case basis?

  • Ramsey||

    I never said principles once. I am just making the case that "GOVERNMENT BAD!" might be a trifle simplistic for the real world.

    How about this principle: executing an American citizen without any judicial oversight=bad,

    Preventing WR Grace and co from poisoning a small town in Montana with asbestos=good?

    Principled enough for you? Sheesh.

  • sarcasmic||

    I am just making the case that "GOVERNMENT BAD!" might be a trifle simplistic for the real world.

    I'm pointing out that you are making a case against a man of straw.

    Principled enough for you?

    I see no principles. I see emotional reactions on a case by case basis.

  • ||

    OK, Ramsey, what's the principle distinguishing your good government from your bad one?

    I do note that your example of bad government fits nicely with sarcasmic's libertarian principles.

    What's the principle for your second one? I might point out that it is more a result than an action; you might want to specify the actions that are good, and then let us know the principle supporting that particular action.

    For example, preventing Grace from poisoning a small town by bombing Grace facilities and rounding up its employees for re-education might not be so good.

  • sarcasmic||

    Something leads me to believe Ramsey wouldn't know a principle if it bit him in the balls.

  • Ramsey||

    Ah, the response to a straw man fallacy by an ad hominem attack. Stay classy sarcasmic.

    Maybe the government could appoint a regulatory board with broad powers to levy fines against those corporations that abused the commons. Sort of a mechanism for ensuring that the cost of commerce include external costs not captured in a simple supply/demand driven society. That might be a positive action by the federal government. They might need to levy a tax to ensure that the regulatory agency has sufficient funds to police the actors in the economy, but I have heard that taxes are the cost of society.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Define abused. Define commons. Define a corporation as anything other than a group of people who have willfully assembled together and your entire argument is based on a false premise. Define "external cost".

    Ad nauseum.

  • Ramsey||

    Are you moving the goal posts again? Those terms are well defined in any intro econ text. I don't know why I bother with this no true scotsman crap, but here goes.

    Corporation: a group of people who have willfully assembled to accomplish a task.

    Commons: Any real property for which individual ownership is impractical, see aquifer and atmosphere.

    Abuse: the depletion of economic value of a good either unowned or owned by another.

    External Cost: A cost associated with consumption that is not included in the price paid.

    I don't see what this has to do with my pointing out that old mex has an childlike view of government. Government provides actual services.

  • sarcasmic||

    Again no principles.

    Though you do seem to favor principals lording over everything.

  • Ramsey||

    Look, I get that you are the one true libertarian, but what the hell does "principles" have to do with anything. Make your argument or stop wasting keystrokes.

    The principle separating good governance from bad is this: maximize liberty while protecting individuals. People are not a logical construct, they need clean food and air. They need to move freely to accomplish their business. They need to be secure in person and property. The free market is not capable of providing those things because it cannot have a monopoly on force. Who stops a miner from poisoning your groundwater without a government? Do you hire some goons to stop them? They can get more goons. There has to be a final arbiter to prevent fraud and abuse. That is the role of government.

    Government is a necessary evil, and sticking your head in the sand will not make that any less true.

    If that is not principled enough for you then you are not a libertarian, you are an anarchist.

    Now, holiest of holies, what the fuck are your "principles"?

  • sarcasmic||

    Again you make an eloquent case against the GOVERNMENT IS BAD WE SHOULDN'T HAVE GOVERNMENT straw man.

    In the case of ground water, that's a simple matter of property rights (there's a principle for you).
    If someone pollutes your water you should be able to take them to court. Threat of being take to court should deter them from poisoning your water, and if it doesn't then through the courts you should be able to do something about it.
    You argue as if I, as a libertarian, do not want courts.
    You do this because it is easier to burn a straw man than to actually address libertarian principles.
    I assume this is because you can't comprehend principles and only see principals.

    Now, holiest of holies, what the fuck are your "principles"?

    For one anyone who calls themselves Ramsey deserves to have their ass kicked repeatedly until they stop making straw man arguments and then acting all smug like they accomplished something.

    Repeatedly.

  • Ramsey||

    When did I ever say anything to you? You jumped to the defense of someone who said that government provided no real service. I have never stated that your position was anarchist or minarchist, I said that old mexican's was.

    Way to elevate the discourse. Your position is obviously superior to the identical one that I hold, to whit that some government (a court system in your case) provides a useful service.

    And trotting out the old ass-kicking commission? When you move out of your mom's basement and meet some new people maybe they can teach you some new insults.

  • sarcasmic||

    When you move out of your mom's basement and meet some new people maybe they can teach you some new insults.

    Yuck, yuck, yuck! That's a good one! Narf!

    Whatever. Enjoy stroking your straw man.

  • JB||

    Maybe the government can appoint a commission to look into beating the shit of out people named Ramsey.

    I'd vote for that.

  • Ramsey||

    Grow up, ITG. When I disagree I argue, I don't appeal to violence or authority. It is called being an adult. What is your argument?

  • Patrick||

    If you want to get rid of Gov't waste, you need Ron Paul as President. Vote on my poll about Ron Paul's VP, and follow my blog: http://www.facebook.com/LibertarianConservative

  • ||

    I had never heard of Katherine Mangu-Ward.

    Until I heard Katherine Mangu-Ward's anti-Semitic slur against Milton Friedman on bloggingheads today.

    Katherine Mangu-Ward's anti-Semitic screed against Friedman, the greatest free market economist America and the world has ever known, made me sick.

    It's clear Katherine Mangu-Ward despises Israel, Judea, Samaria, and the Jewish people. Alan Dershowitz, AIPAC, the ADL, and Heritage will deal with Katherine Mangu-Ward and dump her remains the dust bin alongside Walt and Mershslimer.

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