Poll: Most Americans Want Government To Fight Climate Change

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By Timothy Cama for The Hill – More than 6 in 10 Americans believe that climate change is a problem that the federal government needs to address, according to a new poll. The poll, conducted in August by The Associated Press-NORC Center and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, found a large majority of Americans in both major parties believe that climate change is happening. But Americans’ opinions are less clear when it comes to what action they feel should be taken. Just 51 percent of respondents were willing to pay $1 a month to combat global warming, a figure that dropped to 18 percent when the prospective monthly fee increased to $100. “These results put the polarized climate debate in sharp relief, but also point to the possibility of a path forward,” Michael Greenstone, director of the Energy Policy Institute, said in a statement accompanying its Monday release. “Although half of households said they were unwilling to pay anything for a carbon policy in their monthly electricity bills, on average Americans would pay about $30 per month, as a meaningful share of households report that they are willing to pay a substantial amount,” he said. “So, while the raw economics appears to be less and less of a problem, the open question is whether it is feasible to devise a robust climate policy that accommodates these very divergent viewpoints.” Opinions were not entirely clear on hot-button climate policy issues, either. Only 17 percent of respondents said they support fracking. But if the pollster said it would save the respondent significantly on natural gas bill, support averaged 41 percent.

Just Like Healthcare Needs A Public Option, So Does Banking

'Conventional monetary policy has failed,' writes Brown. An economy in service of the people, not industry and the banks, is what's needed now. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

By Zach Cartwright for Public Banking Institute – The recent kerfuffle over private health insurance companies refusing to accommodate those with plans acquired through the Affordable Care Act exchanges has exposed a glaring issue — why don’t we have a public option to compete with private health insurance profiteers? The same could be said for banking, as well. When health insurance giant Aetna pulled out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges, ACA opponents calling for its repeal celebrated the measure as proof that President Barack Obama’s signature health care legislation was too cumbersome and too expensive for insurers to accommodate.

90 Percent Of Public Lacks Trust In US Political System

© AP Photo/Matt Rourke

By Staff of AP and NORC – Seventy percent of Americans say they feel frustrated about this year’s presidential election, including roughly equal proportions of Democrats and Republicans, according to a recent national poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. More than half feel helpless and a similar percent are angry. Nine in 10 Americans lack confidence in the country’s political system, and among a normally polarized electorate, there are few partisan differences in the public’s lack of faith in the political parties, the nominating process, and the branches of government.

Riots And Social Change

A protester throws a gas canister back at police during clashes in Baltimore, Maryland, April 28, 2015. Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters/Corbis

By Jonathan Chait in NY Mag – The recent spate of protests against police brutality have changed the way the left thinks about rioting. The old liberal idea, which distinguished between peaceful protests (good) and rioting (bad), has given way to a more radical analysis. “Riots work,” insists George Ciccariello-Maher in Salon. “But despite the obviousness of the point, an entire chorus of media, police, and self-appointed community leaders continue to try to convince us otherwise, hammering into our heads a narrative of a nonviolence that has never worked on its own, based on a mythical understanding of the Civil Rights Movement.” Vox’s German Lopez, while acknowledging the downside of random violence, argues, “Riots can lead to real, substantial change.”

What Did NSA Leaks Change About Public Opinion?

A bust of the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that was sneaked overnight into Brooklyn's Fort Greene Park in New York on April 6. (Aymann Ismail / ANIMALNewYork / AP)

By David Sirota in IB Times – Two years ago this month, a 29-year-old government contractor named Edward Snowden became the Daniel Ellsberg of his generation, delivering to journalists a tranche of secret documents shedding light on the government’s national security apparatus. But while Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers detailing one specific military conflict in Southeast Asia, Snowden released details of the U.S. government’s sprawling surveillance machine that operates around the globe. In the years since Snowden’s historic act of civil disobedience, the politics of surveillance have evolved. For much of the early 2000s, politicians of both parties competed to show who could be a bigger booster of the National Security Agency’s operations, fearing that any focus on civil liberties might make them look soft on terrorism.

Americans Don’t Support Another Iraq War

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Americans mostly oppose direct U.S. military action to help the Iraqi government fight Islamic militants threatening to take control of that country. A June 20-21 Gallup poll finds 54% of Americans opposed to and 39% in favor of taking such action, lower than the level of support for other potential U.S. military actions in recent decades. Americans were much more likely to favor taking military action against Iraq before the previous wars in 1991 and 2003, although both of those efforts were undertaken to oppose Saddam Hussein’s regime. After Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, the percentage in favor of sending U.S. troops there started out low at 23%. By the fall, after President George H.W. Bush built an international coalition in favor of military action, a majority of Americans were in favor, including 55% in January 1991 just before the Persian Gulf War began. A consistent majority of Americans supported sending U.S. ground troops to Iraq “in an attempt to remove Saddam Hussein from power” from the time the question was first asked in 1992 until the U.S. actually did so in March 2003. A March 14-15, 2003, poll conducted on the eve of the war found 64% of Americans in favor of taking such action.