Print 95 comment(s) - last by Piiman.. on Jun 15 at 10:51 AM

  (Source: AP)
Majority approves of government tracking phone records (and by proxy location)

new study by the non-partisan Pew Research Center suggests that for all the attention paid by the media, social libertarians, and civil rights advocates regarding government spying, the majority of Americans are okay with their federal government spying on them to an extent.

The survey reports that 56 percent of Americans think its fine for the government to seize daily phone records of millions of Americans, most of whom have never committed a crime.  These records can be used to track a person's position over time. Only 41 percent of respondents opposed the seizures.

Further, nearly half of Americans (45 percent) want the government to monitor everyone's email to fight terrorism, while only a little more than half (52 percent) want to keep their email private.  This is nearly identical to 2002, when 45 percent of people supported email monitoring and 52 percent opposed it.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, partisan politics continue to be a route both of America's ruling parties use to convince people to embrace their bipartisan monitoring efforts.  In Jan. 2006, 61 percent of self-identified Democrats opposed monitoring, versus only 23 percent of Republicans.  At the time 75 percent of Republicans supported surveillance programs by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).

Nearly one out of every two Americans is fine with the government tracking them and reading their email.  [Image Source: CNN]

Today, nearly twice as many Republicans (47 percent) oppose monitoring, while only about half as many (34 percent) Democrats oppose it.  It appears that for many Americans they only oppose the government spying on them if it’s the political party they don't like.  Similar trends are observed on the topic of email monitoring.

Also perhaps predictable is the fact that support of a police state and 24-7 surveillance increases with age.  Among people age 18-29, 45 percent think the government should prioritize privacy over security, while for individuals age 65+ only 25 percent feel privacy is most important.

Also interesting is the fact that only a fourth of Americans are monitoring the NSA news story closely -- less Americans than the NSA is authorized to monitor, ironically.  While older people tend to have the least opposition to government monitoring, counter intuitively they're following the news about the NSA leaks the closest.

The survey of 1,004 individuals was conducted by Princeton Data Source.  The results were weighted based on the demographics of the individual and census statistics.

Source: Pew Research Center

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RE: Defnition
By Schadenfroh on 6/11/2013 2:50:14 PM , Rating: 1
Weight votes by the percentage of income tax one pays and the problem of electing politicians on the basis of how many handouts they offer goes away.

It is the modern equivalent of only letting property owners vote.

RE: Defnition
By Motoman on 6/11/2013 3:05:47 PM , Rating: 3
There's no causal relationship between the tax rate you pay at and your own intelligence.

Originally it was set at land owners because it was assumed they'd be the ones most likely to have an advanced education...these days, "advanced education" is pretty common and frankly doesn't mean much anyway. There are probably people with PhDs that think vaccines cause autism.

In a perfect world, there'd be some way to test people for whether or not they are good critical thinkers...and then only they would be allowed to vote. But, there isn't necessarily any such test...and in any event, the people who were tested and found to be irrational would probably rise up and start a civil war - and then form a new idiocracy.

RE: Defnition
By ebakke on 6/11/2013 4:52:32 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with many of the points you make, and since we accept that for all intents and purposes we can't get rid of stupid (non-critical thinking) people, I argue our only real defense is to severely limit the power we're willing to give our government.

Even if 300M people vote for Bob ImAnIdiot, it wouldn't matter to you and I. The extent of Bob's potential damage would be mere embarrassment. As it stands today, however, Sen. ImAnIdiot can do essentially whatever he and half of his 535 other colleagues want.

RE: Defnition
By ebakke on 6/11/2013 5:00:31 PM , Rating: 3
And before anyone claims I'm talking in the abstract, here are a few concrete things we could do:

* Impose term limits on all elected officials (and arguably, government employees)
* mandate a balanced budget
* simplify the tax code. flat rate income tax, FairTax consumption tax.
* require all bills to be less than X pages in length, and contain only directly related issues/topics/regulations.
* require a 2/3 or 3/4 majority before any taxes can be raised or new programs enacted. (or this provision removed)

Some of those could be done legislatively. Some would require amendments. But they're all doable.

RE: Defnition
By BRB29 on 6/11/2013 9:26:36 PM , Rating: 2
* Impose term limits on all elected officials (and arguably, government employees)

You don't need the term limits because people are directly voting for them. Unless you tell me the federal government has to put in another layer of protection for the stupid?
This won't even be passed anyways because the people that has to vote for this are the same people you're trying to limit.

Federal employees are like any other employees regardless of which industry they're in. They're there to provide whatever service and follow the laws and regulations passed by your elected state officials.

* mandate a balanced budget

Not possible unless the government can mandate the economy, banking system, break guaranteed benefits and contracts at will(eg. cut social security, void defense contracts, etc...)
Suggesting to mandate a balanced budget is either a dream or completely disregarding how macroeconomics work. The modern global economy needs government debt to function properly. The challenge is to keep it sustainable.

* simplify the tax code. flat rate income tax, FairTax consumption tax.

The point of progressive tax system is for the rich to pay more and poor to pay less. It works for the most part. That way the poor has a little more to pay for necessities and they rich lose a bit more disposable income.

* require all bills to be less than X pages in length, and contain only directly related issues/topics/regulations.

The law is not ethics. It has to be black and white and that is why it is so long. They pretty much have to state every possible case they can think of for it. Shortening it is allowing for more loopholes.

* require a 2/3 or 3/4 majority before any taxes can be raised or new programs enacted. (or this provision removed)

Every tax, raises, programs, etc... are all voted in Congress. It already required 2/3 votes. Bumping it to 3/4 will make everything extremely difficult to pass. We are a democratic society, 2/3 isn't enough for you?

Everything here is doable but makes little sense.

RE: Defnition
By rountad on 6/11/2013 5:17:12 PM , Rating: 2
I may be putting words in his mouth, but, if I were making his point, it would be finance, not intelligence.

That is to say that people who finance the government's operations should have more say than people who consume its largesse.

RE: Defnition
By Motoman on 6/11/2013 9:29:37 PM , Rating: 2
Then the people who have money would simply abuse people who don't.

That's why you'd want *rational* people in charge - not rich people.

RE: Defnition
By rountad on 6/12/2013 11:17:36 AM , Rating: 2
I am stating that people are more responsible with their own money.

I would rather have the affluent having more influence than the bread and circuses crowd.

Why would people who don't pay net tax ever vote for smaller government? We are already getting to the point where half of the populace pays no net income tax.

The spending, debt, wealth redistribution, etc... that is going on is not only growing, but doing so at an accelerating pace, and is not sustainable.

RE: Defnition
By Piiman on 6/15/2013 10:35:12 AM , Rating: 2
So only the rich should have a say? You really think that would work out? Go read some history books and see what that leads to.

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