Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Contra 1994 V: Democrats Don't Do Libraries Anymore?

James Taranto comments:

E.J. Dionne, a liberal Washington Post columnist, is unhappy about last week's California election results. No, not the Republican victory in the special House election (though he's none too pleased with that), but the defeat of a pair of ballot measures (emphasis his):
The truly sobering news for liberals was in the statewide voting. Proposition 82, the ballot measure that would have guaranteed access to preschool for all of California's 4-year-olds, went down to resounding defeat, 61 to 39 percent.

Not only that, voters also rejected a $600 million bond measure for the state's libraries. A vote against libraries? Yes, the bonds went down 53 to 47 percent.

And bear in mind that these spending measures appeared on a primary ballot at a time when Democrats were holding a fierce contest for their gubernatorial nomination, while Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger faced only token Republican opposition. There were roughly 500,000 more Democratic than Republican primary votes--meaning that a significant number of Democrats voted against both propositions.

Progressives can find plenty of alibis. Instead they need to deal with the sources of voter skepticism about public spending.
... [T]he column got us to thinking about broader trends that may be feeding public skepticism about government.

It has been widely noted that congressional Republicans have failed to live up to their billing as the party of small government, especially since George W. Bush became president. ....

In sum: Republicans favor small government but embrace big government when they have the power to control it. Democrats favor big government but insist that it can work only when they have the power to control it. ...
Taranto makes a lot of sense, of course. But I think the observations in my previous post in this series regarding Prop 82 apply equally well to the failure of Prop 81 (the library bond measure): Republicans (at least those out of government) are less enthusiastic about more debt and public spending on "small government" grounds, preferring such things to be handled more by private means. And perhaps, as Dionne argues, liberals (or "progressives") ought to favor more library spending on principle or political consistency grounds. But there is good reason to think that relatively fewer Democrats care about or have children now (Taranto has, of course, noted this fact in other contexts), and children would be the main users of those libraries, as USA Today reports:
In Seattle, there are nearly 45% more dogs than children. In Salt Lake City, there are nearly 19% more kids than dogs. ... It's not that people in a progressive city such as Seattle are so much fonder of dogs than are people in a conservative city such as Salt Lake City. It's that progressives are so much less likely to have children.

It's a pattern found throughout the world, and it augers a far more conservative future — one in which patriarchy and other traditional values make a comeback, if only by default. Childlessness and small families are increasingly the norm today among progressive secularists. As a consequence, an increasing share of all children born into the world are descended from a share of the population whose conservative values have led them to raise large families.
The news is even worse for Mr. Dionne and his pro-library funding sympathies because some studies have found that the children of liberals read less than children of conservatives, with the liberal children playing more computer games and watching more television than their conservative counterparts. Worse, some studies also suggest that children who play computer games to excess are more disposed to violence than their parents - with the effect on the children apparently detectable in their brains.

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Hey, did you know that most of your comments to your blog are advertisers trying to sell something and have nothing of substance to say? P.S. I am a a Liberal/Democrat/Progressive and I have a wife and a five-year-old son. You don't cite a study on liberal children's reading habits or anything substantive regarding who is having children. USA Today is your source? Nice paper, but hardly scientific. Most of the conservatives I know actually have small families. One in particular- a Catholic Republican- made fun of my wife for "being so domestic". Go figure. Also the link to the supposed study on violence linked to video games doesn't work. That is also a specious arguement because not all video games are violent. So do non-violent video games cause violent behavior in liberal children also?
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