Gas prices are dropping. On queue, Bush’s poll numbers are rising. Again, just further proof that setting public policy based on poll numbers is never a good idea.

When the Clinton administration folks came up with the phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid”, all that meant was that they were poll driven. Want to push through your agenda? Manipulate the economy so that folks feel like things are better, and you can claim a “mandate”. That’s not the way to run a government. The Republicans have, correctly, not jumped at quick fixes for the most noticeable economic data point–gas prices–and they have paid for it in presidential approval ratings and hence in the liberal punditry as well. Republicans did the right thing, in spite of the short term problems in PR it would cause them. The market has corrected itself and the emotional sector of the public is coming back on board.

The economy is important, make no mistake. But it’s not so important that, as the catch-phrase implied, it’s the main thing. The economy is not something that government should be overly meddling in. Unfortunately, too much of the public has been conditioned to think that the state should run the economy, and when prices are high it’s the government’s job to “fix” things. They don’t see that, all over the world and throughout history, the more control of the economy the government had, the less free the people were, and the worse the economy functioned. Look at the socialist countries of Europe or the failure of centrally Communism for prime examples.

The people run the economy. Let ’em.

Update: Well, speaking of gas prices, Betsy is pointing out the (unfortunately) predictable response of some to assume that the Bush administration is, indeed, practicing manipulation of gas prices for just such a bump in the weeks leading up to the mid-term elections. C’mon, folks, this is pathetic. She notes that USA Today provides the very obvious, market-driven (and even weather-driven) reasons. Is 40% of the public really that unaware of the news of the day that they’re willing to believe this? Given some of the manipulation they’ve come to expect from their government (that is, when they want the government to do it), I suppose it’s not completely unsurprising. But it is disappointing.

Update #2:  Back Talk uses some statistical analysis to show that because these two graphs correlate doesn’t mean one causes or influnces the other.  He notes that, for example, Bush’s popularity jumped before the 9/11 gas price jump rather than after.  He also shows a graph of Bush’s popularity vs. housing prices, but nobody’s tying those two numbers together.  Very good points and worth considering in this discussion.  I would only add that most folks know, day to day, what the gas prices are and not many know the value of homes around them very often, so gas prices would affect their perception more.  But I do appreciate Engram’s points.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Filed under: EconomicsGovernmentPoliticsPolls

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!