Assorted links and comments

The first poll on the flood levy finds opinion heavily polarised on partisan lines, but overall against, 53% disapproving to 39% approving.

A different question on the same poll finds that 64% of respondents believe that universities would be better run by the public sector and 20% believe universities would be better run by the private sector. This dichotomy does not include the public-private hybrid nature of Australian universities as an option.

In the context of the fascinating events in Egypt, Tyler Cowen reminds us of an outstanding book on public opinion, Timur Kuran’s Private Truths, Public Lies. In authoritarian regimes people conceal their true political views, but new dynamics can take over in which more and more people are emboldened to express their opinions. With no real support, in these circumstances regimes can crumble quickly when they lose the will to kill.

An interesting post on the signalling dynamics of cutting communications.


Daniel Bell has died, aged 91. He was on the fringe of early neoconservatism, though he always denied he was one, proclaiming himself to be a socialist in economics, a liberal in politics, and a conservative in culture. His key books were The End of Ideology, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, and The Coming of Post-Industrial Society. He could brilliantly integrate the great thinkers of the past with the trends of the present.

Of the writers I studied when writing my honours thesis on neoconservatism, Bell and Peter Berger impressed me most as intellectuals.

Daniel Bell, RIP.

5 Responses to “Assorted links and comments

  • 1
    Fred Argy
    February 1st, 2011 06:09

    Andrew, I thought Grattan noted (on the ABC this morning) that much more than half the respondents said they wanted to see finance paid through reliance on debt or the flood levy. Only 25% wanted to see the end of NBN (which is an ongoing spending reduction). It seems to me that neither the spending cuts (as Abbott want) nor the flood levy (which Gillard wants) satisfies everyone. It is not a clear winner.

  • 2
    Fred Argy
    February 1st, 2011 06:23

    I found the reference in The AGE today. Grattan says 28% favour scrapping or deferring the NBN and only 21% favour raising taxes and 24% want to postpone the surplus. So it is much more even than I thought.

  • 3
    Andrew Norton
    February 1st, 2011 07:19

    Fred – That result is here. Respondents were only given one option, though clearly some of these are not mutually exclusive.

    Questions like this really show the limits of survey research in identifying stable public opinion. The more options for ‘savings’ the pollsters provide, the less likely it is that any one of them will get significant support.

  • 4
    Rajat Sood
    February 7th, 2011 04:02

    Any thoughts on Newspoll’s findings on the flood levy, Andrew? It’s interesting that majority support for the levy has coincided with a fall in Labor’s primary vote and Gillard’s standing as preferred PM. I wonder if question wording again has driven the results. The Ten Network/Essential Research question emphasises the taxpayer angle while the Australian/Newspoll question emphasises what the levy is to be used for.

  • 5
    Andrew Norton » Blog Archive » Does the public have a majority view on the flood levy?
    February 7th, 2011 04:56

    […] Rajat Sood points out, the second poll on the flood levy has come out an opposite majority conclusion to the first […]