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Thursday, October 6, 2011

What Do You Do with a Problem like Timmy? Results as of 6th October

Thanks to everyone who participated in the poll about Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's treacherous behavior.  This was very timely, given all the excitement caused by the emerging Occupy movement.  Seems like as a species we're all embarking on a collective experiment in consensus building.

Your responses were fascinating.  The pattern of your answers demonstrated a very sophisticated rationale and complex analysis.  I can't really parse the thread of each individual's thought process -- the questionnaire format I used was far too simplistic.  But the overall pattern is pretty clear:  You don't quite believe that others have your same clarity about the wrongfulness of Geithner's actions.  For example:

I apologize for the poor legibility of this pics.  Full data and charts for all questions is available here for better viewing.

Still, 2 things probably stand out as readily to you as they did to me: 

1.) Almost complete unanimity that the failure (to date) to harshly punish Geithner's actions constituted some serious violation of moral consistency;

2.) Almost 2/3 of you believed that the public at large are indifferent to that inconsistency and its implications for American democracy.

Why do you figure that's so?  True enough, this poll's design left a lot to be desired.  This thing could be torn to shreds on any number of methodological grounds: leading questions, confusing, wordy format, inappropriate or incomplete choices offered, etc., etc.  But my real suspicion is that 2 main phenomena underly these trends:

1.)  Self-selection bias.  The forums I submitted this thing likely guaranteed that the only people taking the questionnaire were people who already outraged by Geithner and very cynical about mainstream media interpretations.

2.)  Things may not be quite as bad as you thought.  Few of us, those of us who've been paying attention, anyhow, have been willing to indulge in the "H-word" since 2009.  Even if our gloomiest, most alienated prognostications turn out to be correct about the denoument of this particular issue, there does seem to be a strong chance that there are more intelligent, vigillant and right-thinking people out there than you think.  After all, nearly 100% of you agreed that Geithner's continued presence in the administration is a moral outrage.

Maybe we just have to spend more time talking about these things out loud, demonstrate the high level of latent consensus that's already out there.

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