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Economic Disagreement

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Jun 6, 2012    •    675 Views

Astronomy might help us understand US history according to biographer Walter Isaacson. We just need to think about binary systems in which 2 separately orbiting stars “are linked because of their gravitational interaction.”

The tension between Hamilton and Jefferson was his first example. One for a national bank, the other against, one for strong central government, the other said no. In separate orbits, they influenced each other and the country.

For Jobs and Gates, Isaacson says the connection was similar. As the mind and passion behind Apple, Steve Jobs was intuitive, a romantic, a perfectionist who focused on design and usability. Meanwhile, Bill Gates led Microsoft methodically, a natural at computer coding, disciplined, practical. Again, we have 2 very different men with different views of the world who affected each other and us.

And now, Pew Research has reported their newest conclusions about our political polarity and an economic binary system again seems to have evolved.

Especially for 5 economic issues, Pew tells us that the “values gap” between Republicans and Democrats has increased. Numerically, the values gap is the percent reflecting how much Republicans and Democrats disagree. For example, asked if the government should take care of people who cannot take care of themselves, because 75% of all Democrats and 40% of all Republicans said “yes,” the values gap was  35.

This table, based on their study when it began and now, displays the average size of the values gap for multiple questions in each category.

1987 2012
Social safety net 23 41
Environment 5 39
Labor Unions 20 37
Equal opportunity 17 33
Gov’t. scope and perf. 6 33


With Republicans and Democrats forming a binary system, how might future legislation display the impact of their “gravitational interaction?”

The entire Pew Report is here and Walter Isaacson looks at Gates and Jobs in Steve Jobs, Chapter 16.

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