Waste Perception

I’m fascinated by how stable perceptions of the wastefulness of the federal government are:

I would have guessed that this was more unstable according to either the national political mood or who’s in office or what. Instead, it’s a steady increase. Mickey Kaus was on Twitter yesterday blaming this on Davis-Bacon, which is a bit difficult to match to the data. I infer from the fact that state/local government is seen as less wasteful than the federal government and that older people have a much higher waste-perception than younger people that this is driven by the fact that people don’t understand Social Security and Medicare. People see state and local government running schools, police departments, fire stations, etc. Then the federal government is sucking up all this money and doing nothing with it. Of course, they’re not doing “nothing,” they’re cutting Social Security checks and paying the tab for Medicare. But people don’t see it that way.