Political coordinates test

A popular political quiz on the internet purports to place you on a Cartesian plane with “left-right” on one axis and “libertarian-communitarian” on the other, by presenting you with 36 assertions you’re suppposed to agree or disagree with. One of them is

“There are too many wasteful government programs.”

Well, of course there are! For this not to be the case, the government would have to be uniquely unwasteful among all large institutions. The quiz does not ask whether you agree that

“There are too many wasteful private enterprises.”

I would like to agree with both, but the test only allows me to agree with the first while remaining silent above the second, which makes me seem more of a free-market purist than I really am. Which questions you choose to ask affects which answers you’re able to get.

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3 thoughts on “Political coordinates test

  1. ventullo says:

    Although it’s slightly more nuanced than the one-dimensional “left-right”, I still wish there were more dimensions, maybe 10 or so. I’m not sure what those other dimensions might be.

  2. Dr. Math says:

    @ventullo If there were 10 dimensions, but all the questions on them were similarly designed to make any remotely sane person appear libertarian, the quiz would be as bad.

    But anyway, responding to Jordan: in the question’s defense, there is a hidden assumption. The implication is “there are too many wasteful government programs, and we should do something about it”. I.e. we should act politically to cut back government waste and bureaucracy.

    If you take the position that the government should step in to shut down private enterprises who are wasteful, e.g. Bernie’s position that we should nationalize all deodorant companies because “10 brands of deodorant is too many, in Soviet Russia, where there is only one brand of deodorant, everything is better, we should be like them” such an answer would also help tell us a lot about your political views.

    If you instead take the position that “there are too many wasteful government programs” but we shouldn’t be concerned about that because every large institution has wasteful programs, then another way of putting that is “no, there aren’t too many wasteful government programs, there are just the amount you would expect given the size the government has to be for what I want it to accomplish”.

    One way of trying to unambiguously define what “too much” means is “enough that you actually think something should be done about it”.

  3. JSE says:

    This is a great point!

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