Gallup: Americans fear Big Government over Big Business and Big Labor

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December 13, 2011 by galudwig

According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans fear Big Government more than Big Business by a ratio of 3 to 1, an increase compared to the last poll. This might be surprising to some because of the Occupy Wall Street movement dominating the headlines in recent weeks.

From gallup,

The Occupy Wall Street movement, focused on “fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations,” has drawn much attention and a large following. Still, the majority of Americans do not view big business as the greatest threat to the country when asked to choose among big business, big government, and big labor.

Additionally, while Occupy Wall Street isn’t necessarily affiliated with a particular party, its anti-big business message may not be resonating with majorities in any party. Republicans, independents, and now close to half of Democrats are more concerned about the threat of big government than that coming from big business.

The way I see it, people fear Big Government because it has power, coercive power, over us individuals. And, as Lord Acton famously said, power corrupts. Government becoming bigger means that the possibility of this power being used for ends we as individuals do not agree with increases. Some people, notably the OWS crowd, fear Big Business for the same reason, ie because it is deemed to have an inordinate, ill-gotten amount of power over people. But what ill-gotten power does Big Business wield over individuals exactly apart from that which results from the collusion of government with business?

The failure to answer this question and the realization by most of the fact that business is good and big business also, as long as it is not imbued with privileges granted by the government, is in my opinion why most people, correctly, fear Big Government more than what OWSers would call “the evil corporations”.

Poll: Little love for big gov – MJ Lee – POLITICO.com

http://www.gallup.com/poll/151490/Fear-Big-Government-Near-Record-Level.aspx

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4 thoughts on “Gallup: Americans fear Big Government over Big Business and Big Labor

  1. Interesting poll. All of the rise in “fear of big government” came between 1970 and 2000. Most of this rise came at the expense of “fear of big labor” – not “fear of big corporations”. For most in the OWS movement, I think income inequality is the bigger issue. I believe there is a direct correlation between the demise of unions and income inequality. Right now, low and unskilled workers have very little say – even democrats put the interests of corporations ahead of those workers. How else can you explain democratic inaction on things like illegal immigration and the Chinese unilaterally setting the exchange rate in their favor? Those things keep workers wages low and corporate profits high – which leads to income inequality.

    • galudwig says:

      I can’t say I agree with you personally, but you have a good point. The motivations of the OWS movement are manifold, and actually I do sympathise with some of their concerns which I feel are legitimate. However, income inequality is not one of them. I’ll probably write more about it over the next few days. I hope you don’t mind if I take your comment as a starting point for some of my musings 🙂

      But thank you for your comment. I took a look at your blog and you have some very interesting things to say, even though it is clear that our approaches to the subject matter of economics are so different.

  2. You;re right, it’s hard to say how many OWS supporters are motivated by income inequality – they haven’t exactly been clear and consistent in their message! Just yesterday they were trying to disrupt several ports on the US and Canadian west coasts.

    They say on their http://occupywallst.org/about/ page that the movement “aims to fight back against the richest 1% of people that are writing the rules of an unfair global economy”. This ties in with my thoughts on the reasons for today’s income inequality. I don’t agree with all of their positions, but I strongly agree with that one. I loved The Onion’s take:

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/american-people-hire-highpowered-lobbyist-to-push,18204/

    I’m looking forward to reading your post on the subject!

  3. […] Wilson from northamericaneconomics.com had some interesting things to say about yesterday’s post. While I agree with some of his observations, it also made me reflect on our differences in […]

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