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Bill Matthies

CEO, Coyote Insight, LLC

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Do most people differentiate between forms of government and economic systems? How does what they think impact what they do?

Communism, socialism, fascism, capitalism and a few more variations of one or more of these, are all economic systems. Democracy, dictatorship, republic, and anarchy, also with variations and degrees, are forms of government. Any economic system can be put in place by a democratic government, or imposed by a dictatorship.

Do you think most people understand this or do they confuse economic systems and forms of government? In other words do most think communism only comes with dictatorship, capitalism only with democracy?

To the extent they are confused, how does this impact what they do both politically and economically?


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    Nov 15 2012: Predictably the discussion has wandered off on a tangent so let me restate the original question.

    Do most people differentiate between forms of government and economic systems? And regardless how does what they think impact what they do?
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      Nov 15 2012: Bill, how do you think it impacts people when they do not make distinctions between economic systems and political systems?
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        Nov 16 2012: Sorry for the delay Fritzie. I've been thinking about your question and conclude, I don't know. I suppose the first question still is, do they even understand there is a difference? Based on some of the responses here I'd say some many don't.

        I believe most people in the US, often including me, vote for icons of what they hope will be true, with little to no idea concerning the policies that will likely come from who they vote for. And if so it's hard to fault them for that. Our campaigns are long on image, short on substance.

        So do I think most know the difference between forms of government and economic systems? Since "most" would be 51% I'll say yes at least when they are forced to think about it.
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          Nov 16 2012: There is another issue also and that is a word may mean something but typically be used differently in public life. Some people use any one of these words simply as a synonym for good or bad.
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        Nov 19 2012: Responding to your comment below.

        I agree that people often do mistakenly use the wrong label. Growing up in the US during the 50's, for many "communism" was a synonym for "dictatorship". I now see there's no reason an electorate could not willingly elect politicians they know will institute a communist economic system. Not likely I suppose but it is possible.
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      Nov 15 2012: I think that the distinction between forms of government is easier as the media, movies, and fear tends to make these things more obvious.

      We become aware of economics of a country when they possess what we need or want. The most obvious is oil. We under stand that many products are made in China .. but we only are aware of that because of ipods all have made in China on the back.

      The sad truth is that we do not educate students in economics either macro or micro. Until Pat brought the subject of QE3 to the TED table how many of us had heard of it. If you asked the man on the street about the fisical cliff you would get a lot of answers from aware to never heard of it. How many would answer any questions on balance of trade or the Fed.

      More people vote for the American Idol than for president ... top stories on the news are about the latest stupidity of actors .... stories about serious impactors like the economy are dumbed down for the viewers.

      Schools should incorporate poli Si, economics, and stats into a course and show the relationship to history. I am pretty sure that until that occurs most will be given the mushroom treatment ... kept in the dark and fed crap.

      Is that closer to what you were looking for.

      All the best. Bob.
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        Nov 16 2012: I "thumbs up'd" your reply Bob because I like your suggestion about schools doing more to make sure people do understand the political and economic systems they live under. And too the comment about more voting for AI than president.

        That reminds me of the man on the street interviews you occasionally see where otherwise seemingly intelligent people are asked basic questions like who is the VP, who are their senators, what is the difference between the House of Representatives and the Senate, etc. Unless they use very selective editing showing only those who get it wrong, way too many people don't know, which is very sad given all that is at stake when we vote.
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          Nov 16 2012: Bill, I work with my State Senator and invited her to our school district for a tour and fact finding. We went into several classes and when we went into the overnment class (all seniors) she ask them who their State Senator was. Even though they had been briefed that she was coming and I introduced her as Senator Allen .... no one could answer the question. The Principal and Superintendent accompaning us were red faced.

          I think we have problem on many levels ....

          Thanks for the reply. Bob.
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          Nov 17 2012: Don't you think state senator is aiming a little high? I would think you would be doing good if they knew their U.S. senators? I mean you have to walk before you can run type deal.

          It is like one of those Jay Leno interviews like Bill said.

          You guys have some provocative people in politics in Az, keep up the good work.

          It just occurred to me that a mention of guns in Az might be taken the wrong so I edited the above.

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