Monday, October 6, 2014

Another Pop Quiz

Follow this link to take Pew Research's annual test of world events. As my 9th grade world history teacher Mr. Albanese used to say before every multiple-guess treat, "Do as good as you could, boys and girls. Do as good as you could."

Full disclosure: I did as good as I could, and I still got one answer wrong, which I partially blame on what I consider to be a faulty question with a built-in supposition. More on that later, because I don't want to spoil your fun while the day is so fresh, new, and Panglossian.

Update: O.K., it is now dinnertime and time to confess my wrong answer to the question "on which of these activities does the US Government currently spend the most money?" I answered interest on the national debt, but according to Pew, it's Social Security... which I thought Pew had inserted as a "trick question," given that the Social Security trust fund is separate from the federal budget and is a pay-go social insurance program in which workers and employers contribute a payroll tax to fund current retirees. As such, Congress does not have the power to administer these funds, as it does with spending on transportation and foreign aid (other possible answers in the quiz). And the debt ceiling is a whole other story, given that paying interest on money owed used to be a no-brainer.  So, either Pew worded its question too murkily, or I over-interpreted/read too much into it. I'm quite sensitive to the arguments of the deficit hawk billionaires who are always accusing the old and disabled of bilking the government in their quest to survive. Hope they don't use the Pew poll to say "we told you so!"


annenigma said...

Same score here, and probably based on the same discerning/discriminating reasoning that is more typical of females in general.

It's interesting to note where the females outscored males. Apparently we've got a lot in common with the youngest and least educated.

Kat said...

I bet we all missed the same question.

Zee said...

I, too missed a single question and like annenigma and Kat, I, too, will wager we all missed the same one for the same reason.

Zee said...

Well, I lost my wager. I thought that the official number for people living in poverty was closer to 25% than 15% given what I read not only here but elsewhere, too.

Shoulda known that the government would always lowball the truth

Karen Garcia said...


Poverty could also be construed as a trick question. The "official" percentage is 15%, but depending on the data measured, that number is as high as 30-50% percent if you factor in the number of people who report being only a paycheck or catastrophic illness away from destitution.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Well, pass me the dunce cap. I missed both the SS question AND the poverty one. Karen has already explained her (and my) thought process for the SS question. Here's mine on the poverty question.

"Approximately what share of Americans currently live at or below the federal poverty line?" --Pew

It depends on where "at" is. (h/t, Bill) A few thousand bucks immediately over the poverty line is, to me, very, very near poor and therefore AT the threshold of poverty.

There was no need for Pew to throw "at" into the question if they were only asking for the official figure of those living BELOW the poverty level. "AT" loosens up the whole question. Or does Pew consider a one dollar bill to be a great wall between the poor and the almost-there poor?

Pew will probably buck my protest to the government office that sets the poverty line.

Isaiah Earhart said...

I got all the questions correct, but only because I knew the Social Security question was BS.

The official child poverty rate in the US is right about 25%- which is quite closer to the actual poverty rate, in my opinion.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Like Zee, I got all but the poverty rate question correct.

As Zee said, "Shoulda known that the government would always lowball the truth".

To which I would add, I did know that the government has for at least a couple of decades been playing fast-and-loose with both the unemployment rate and the consumer price index. So, yeah, I should have also known that the official poverty rate would be structured to look better than poverty numbers are in real-world, practical terms.

Kat said...

Actually, I missed the SS question! I was trying to figure out if they were steering you towards "SS is unsustainable" or "OMG! deficit!". I went with interest payments. I should have known.