Saturday, March 31, 2007

Democratic Survey!

The Democrats need MY opinion on a few questions. I figured everyone would want to share this experience with me, right?

I love these surveys. I went to school working on a psychology degree for awhile and a couple of the things I studied were about how psychologists shape tests, and more generally how to get people to react in ways you want them to. It's always funny to look at these questionaires from the point of view of knowing these things and watching where they're trying to tweak my answers. Or, just to watch where the multiple choice responses offered demonstrate the limited viewpoint of Americans.

Here goes!

Question 1. Which of the following issues is the most important to you? Please rank the following from 1-10 with 1 being the most important to you. (This isn't the order they came in, just the order I put them in. It was hard to choose.)

1. Improving public education
2. Iraq War
3. Health Care Affordability
4. Protecting the Environment
5. Reproductive Freedom
6. National Energy Policy
7. (this one was a write in) Rich people need to pay taxes. Especially businesses.
8. Ethics in Government
9. Stem Cell Research
10. Social Security Reform.

There was one that said "Economic/Tax policy" that I didn't fill out because I didn't know what they meant by that, so I didn't feel good about saying I supported it.

Question 2. Do you support an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq?

Question 3. If you don't support an immediate withdrawal.. (skipped this. I do support immediate withdrawal)

Question 4. Do you support increased defense spending to fight the war against terrorism? (Way to let the other side frame the discussion there, guys)
__ Yes, we need a stronger military to stop terrorists threats around the globe.
X No, the money should be spent on domestic needs like education and healthcare.

(See, there's what I'm talking about. Can you tell what they want the Democrats they sent this to to answer? Do you want to KILL PEOPLE with the military, or build schools and hospital guys? Well? Which will it be?)

Question 5. Do you support raising the minimum wage from it's current level of 5.15/hr?
X Yes, the minimum wage should be increased to help workers make ends meet.
__ No, raising the minimum wage will hurt small businesses and cost jobs.

Question 6. When decisions about the future of Social Security are being made, what do you think is the most important?
X Keeping Social Security as a program with a guaranteed monthly benefit.
__ Allowing younger workers to decide for themselves how their Social Security contributions are invested
__ Both guaranteed benefits and investments are important.

(They want me to answer "both" but I was paying attention yesterday to what those Tribune guys are doing with the employees pensions. Why don't we not do more to hand over our tax dollars to big business?)

Question 7. In your view, what is the best way to ensure health care coverage for all Americans?
__Tax credits to help employers provide health care coverage for their employees?
__Medical savings accounts that let families set aside money for healthcare costs?
X A government-run system where everyone is guaranteed health care coverage?

(Government run?! Oh no!... ha, they didn't get me on that one.)

Question 8. What is the single best approach to reducing our dependence on foreign oil? (hehe. Playing on American xenophobia)
__Providing incentives to encourage energy conservation
__Increasing domestic energy production from sources like coal and nuclear power
X Investing in renewable energy resources like solar power, wind power and ethanol. (I crossed out ethanol, because the corn takes up too much farmland to produce even a fraction of the amount of ethanol needed. Solar power, baybee)
__ Requiring automakers to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Question 9. Do you support tax cuts targeted at working families?
X Yes, with our economy struggling, working families need a tax break.
__ No, additional tax cuts at this time will only worsen the federal deficit.

Question 10. Should the Democratic congress put a high priority on stopping American manufacturing jobs from being "outsourced to overseas workers?
__ Yes, the manufacturing jobs being lost are essential to our economy
__ No, American consumers benefit from cheaper goods made overseas.
(Guess which answer they're looking for there. Think hard. I wrote in an answer below the other two. My answer was that I think corporations should be regulated so that they are required to treat workers fairly globally if they intend to trade in the US.)

Question 11. Do you think Medicare should be allowed to re-import less expensive drugs from Canada to make prescription medicines more affordable for senior citizens?
X Yes, this will help millions of seniors who struggle to pay for their prescriptions
__ No, it is too risky, as the safety of these drugs can't be guaranteed. (Damn shifty Canadians)(Also wrote in: "This is a non-issue")

Question 12. Think about the issue of education, which of the following is your number one priority? Please select only one answer.
__Funding for early education programs like Head Start.
X Funding for elementary and middle school education to reduce class sizes.
__ Funding for tuition aid programs to make college more affordable.
(I found two things disturbing about this question. One being that funding for elementary education has to be necessarily used for class size (as opposed to wholly overhauling the elementary education system, say, or paying teachers competative salaries) The other thing is that I had to choose one. I want all of these.)

Question 13. What is your opinion about a woman's right to a safe and legal abortion? (that's not a slanted question... oh, wait)
X I support a woman's right to choose.
__ I support a woman's right to choose, but believe we need some restrictions, such as parental notification laws and mandatory waiting periods before having an abortion.
__ I oppose a woman's right to choose.
(write in: I support a woman's right to choose, but with readily available contraception so that unwanted pregnancies can be prevented before they happen, and a responsible economic policy that doesn't force women to face choices like not being able to feed their children or else have an abortion. Poverty increases abortion. Let's take care of that.)
(Also, enjoying the way they framed that. hehe)

Question 14. What is your opinion about environmental laws in America?
X We need stronger environmental laws to protect our air and water and clean up toxic waste, safeguard endangered wildlife and habitat and combat global warming.
__ Our environmental policies are about right, no new laws are needed
__ Our environmental laws burden businesses and hurt our economy.

(The framing on that one is kind of a doozy. You can tell when this is happening because of the evocative language and the lengthy description on one answer when compared to terse responses on the other two)

Question 15. To help make progress on issues like those discussed in this survey, will you join the Democratic National Committee as a contributing member today?


Also: On the outside of the envelope, printed in red, it says "Survey Response Enclosed -- Please Rush" hehe. URGENT Survey results!


Marcy said...

I've suspected in the past that the test makers are trying to put me in a box. My answers are usually along the lines of "Well, it depends." "I wouldn't say ALWAYS." "I believe in A,B, and C." "Well, if you say NEVER, I'd have to say NO, but if you take the word NEVER out of the sentence, I'd answer YES."

April 1, 2007 11:10 AM  
divabeq said...

Yeah, that exact thing. I was part of a telephone survey once that started asking me questions about banks. Amongst the questions they asked was whether I considered my bank to possess the trait "loyalty" and I told the interviewer the question anthropomorphized a financial institution. Did she mean the people at the bank? And she just repeated the question. I said I didn't consider the question to be valid. She said I had to answer to be part of the survey. So, I said "No", which is fine with me, if banks were capable of possessing human traits, I would not consider banks particularly loyal, but it was an annoying exercise nonetheless.

And, yes, there's an entire branch of psychology that is dedicated to designing tests and test questions. It seems only a logical extension to think they are creating survey questions as well.

April 1, 2007 11:57 AM  

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