December 5th, 2010

Napoleon

Why do people vote against their own interests?

I was reading this blog post about how a Gallup poll found that Americans seem to prioritize the abolition of the estate tax over unemployment benefits.  The author breaks it down like this:

Right now there are 14.2 million Americans looking for work and less than 3 million total job openings. So we've got more than 10 million people for whom there are no jobs -- for whom there exist no jobs. The unemployment rate is 9.6 percent....

The estate tax affects 0.24 percent of American estates.

There is a pretty good chance, at any time, that any given American might suddenly find himself or herself among that 9.6 percent without a job.

There is almost no chance, at any time, than any given American not already belonging to the privileged classes with estates large enough to owe estate taxes will ever even get close to joining that 0.24 percent.

And yet, according to Gallup, the abolition of the estate tax is widely viewed as a higher priority than the survival of more than 10 million people for whom jobs do not exist.
 
Estate tax vs. unemployment benefits is not the topic that I want to discuss.  It's fine if you do, but just so you know, you'll be off-topic. :)

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