There was a recent Gallup survey showing that Americans are not too fond of Congress. 49% of Americans rated Congress as bad or poor. Just 15% rated Congress as excellent or good, while 34% rated it as fair.
The first question that comes to mind is just who the 15% are that rate Congress excellent or good.
But these results are not the most interesting thing about the poll. The poll also asked the Americans surveyed to answer five questions about Congress.
I could answer all five questions with no problem without resorting to Google. I’m not sure if I should be proud of that or if I should get more of a life. But since I write on these topics, it is probably good that I know the basics.
The interesting thing is that the people who answered the most questions correctly were also those who were the most critical of Congress. For example, for the people who answered 4 or 5 questions right out of the 5, only 7% thought Congress is doing an excellent or good job (as compared to 15% overall).
Out of those same people who answered 4 or 5 questions right, 66% rated Congress as poor or bad (compared to 49% overall).
Meanwhile, for the people who could not answer any of the 5 questions correctly, 27% of them think Congress is doing a good or excellent job.
So when I rhetorically asked the question above about who these people are rating Congress so highly, this gives us some of our answer. It is the people who have absolutely no clue as to what is happening. If these people stayed away from the voting booths, then I would have no problem with their ignorance. The problem is that many of them show up to cast an ignorant vote. They might know just enough to vote for the candidate promising the most welfare handouts.
I have long thought that it is ironic that libertarians and those who study Austrian economics know more about the Fed than any other group, except perhaps the central bankers themselves. Yet, libertarians are also the biggest critics. The hardcore libertarians do not want the Fed. They don’t think a central bank should exist.
I believe the main reason is that those who understand – whether we are talking about Congress or the Fed – are the same people who understand they are getting ripped off.
Aside from the bankers and insiders, it is the Austro-libertarians who understand that the Fed’s main purpose is to fund the deficits of Congress and to support the big banks. It is not to smooth out business cycles. The Fed is the main cause of the boom/ bust cycles.
If you have any group or organization that is doing harmful things, it is going to be the people who know the most about the organization who will be the most critical of it, unless of course they are profiting from it and are not fully honest.
I also believe that libertarians and free market advocates who understand the Fed should take advantage of the fact that they do understand. While studying economics tells us that we can’t predict human action with any certainty and that we can’t time events in the future or how exactly they will play out, it can help us prepare.
Unfortunately, I think many libertarians just don’t know how to connect protecting their own freedom and their money with their knowledge of the government and the central bank. Sometimes they know just enough to make a lot of mistakes.
I also find that for as much as most people underestimate the harm that government does, libertarians underestimate the power of the free market. There are so many gloom and doomers. It is partially for good reason because they know the damage being done by the state. But they also underestimate the power of the free market to overcome many of the obstacles.
This latest Gallup poll confirmed what I already thought. It is the most ignorant people who are the most damaging. But I also want to say that people who are politically apathetic are often the best targets for libertarians. To a certain extent, apathetic people are correct not to pay too much attention to politics if it means they are focusing on improving themselves and their own life. I am not talking about the apathetic people who collect welfare and have little interest in ever bettering themselves.
If we want to have a more libertarian society, the answer is education, and I don’t mean the kind you get in school. People must be educated on the benefits of liberty. They must be informed on the damage done by the government and the central bank. As people get more informed, it will likely benefit the libertarian movement.