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Working through National Citizen Survey for Watauga part 5

January 21, 2012

Economic Sustainability

“The United States has been in recession since late 2007 with an accelerated downturn occurring in the fourth quarter of 2008.  Officially, we emerged from recession in the third quarter of 2009, but high employment lingers, keeping a lid on a strong recovery.  Many readers worry that the ill health of the economy will color how residents perceive their environment and the services that local government delivers.  NRC researchers have found that the economic downturn has chastened Americans’ view of their own economic futures but has not colored their perspectives about community services or quality of life.”

!Wow, what a crock of garbage!

An “accelerated downturn”?  Great spin there.  Thanks Obama.  Looks like that hope and change isn’t going all that well.  Why don’t we try something else, like radically shrinking government?  It’s done amazing things every time it’s tried?  J

“Officially, we emerged from recession in the third quarter of 2009”?  Really?  Isn’t that just because the government changed the rules on how to record unemployment and other indicators?  Funny that people aren’t picking up on that “emergence”.  Hmmm.  I can’t think of any reason why that might be.  Oh, wait, here’s one:  there hasn’t really been a recovery?

This section took a bigger shovel than some of the others.  I’ve argued repeatedly of the bias in this survey and how it is a ridiculous assertion of value judgments instead of being some kind of objective instrument.  This would have been a perfect place for some objectivity.

I mentioned in my article to Terry Evans that this notion of “quality of life” gets bandied about as though it is a definition of something.  It is not.

Here’s my definition of “quality of life” as it relates to the government:  I get to keep what I work for.  I get to control the property I own.  My neighbor doesn’t get to dictate to me how tall my grass will be.  I don’t have to pay the government for the ability to repair my own home.

Interestingly, that definition is diametrically opposed to the definition that city council seems to be using. There’s not a definition included in the survey, so we’ll have to just assume, but I think we can make that judgment from the rest of the document.

So, here’s their idea of “economic sustainability”.  Shopping opportunities.  Watauga as a place to work.  Overall quality of business and service establishments in Watauga.  Retail growth seen as too slow.  Jobs growth seen as too slow.  That is interesting.

No judgment requested on “Are your property taxes too high?” or “Do you pay too much sales tax to the city” or “How much better off would you be if you could fix your home without paying the city or making repairs to a standard that your neighbors have dictated?”  I wonder how those questions were left out?  Maybe they’re in the next round.

The final segment of the “economic impact” is residents prospects for the future.  21% said the next 6 months would have a “somewhat” or “very” positive impact on their family.  Were these Republican’s thinking Obama would get tossed out and government actually start to live within their means?  Or Democrats who thought that more Dems would come to rescue Obama and deliver them more of my hard earned money?  I guess we’ll never know.  Pretty vague isn’t it?

More interestingly, 33% felt that the economic future would be “somewhat” or “very” negative.   46% were neutral?  I couldn’t tell from the results including those that didn’t answer if there were any that didn’t answer or if they were counted as neutral.

If there’s not a major turnover of City Council in May, I expect it will continue to get worse locally.  I’m not sure that any of the candidates or power running have the intestinal fortitude to do what needs to happen in this country.  I’d have to say I’d be in the “very negative” camp.  I worry about the 46% with no opinion and worry more about the 21% that have such an optimistic outlook.  I suppose ignorance is bliss.  There are days I wish I were more ignorant.

However, it does bring up a point about the survey.  If the residents aren’t plugged in, and don’t know that their city government barely avoided the maximum tax increase that the law allows, and that the city is talking about growing and expanding, would they still have the same positive outlook?

The survey does not include any kind of specifics to measure how well informed the survey takers actually were about their city, so we’ll never know.

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