You gotta love the brilliant decision by the respected polling group, Public Policy Institute of California, to once again sneak in subtle test questions of California residents while asking them to opine on everything from whether we should borrow from the Lottery (voters say No) to whether Schwarzenegger is doing a good job (again, No) to whether the 120 legislators in Sacramento are doing a good job (that's a triple-quadruple NO).
Californians seem on pretty solid ground with those three answers. But after looking so smart, residents fell on their collective face when the sly folks at PPIC tucked an IQ test into the poll, dressed up to look like perfectly innocent political questions.
The pollsters wanted to know some real, simple, basic info. Fifth-grade stuff.
By their answers, Californians showed themselves to be so ignorant, we might be better off having fifth-graders streaming into the polling places on election days.
Multiple Choice Question (see Page 12 of the poll): Where does the biggest chunk of state taxpayer money spent from the General Fund actually end up? Does it go to prisons? Health and welfare? Colleges? Public schools? Or do you simply Not Know?
A big bunch of Californians, about 27 percent, think the biggest hunk of state tax money must be going to all that free health care and welfare spending. Wrong!
About 7 percent think that the biggest slice of taxpayer money is spent on the state's college and university system. Even more wrong!
Incredibly, more than one-third of state residents -- 37 percent -- somehow believe that prisons take the biggest chunk of taxpayer money. Way wrong! And who are these people?
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Big, fat air kiss to the 20 percent of Californians who know that kindergarten through Grade 12 -- the public schools -- gets the biggest chunk of taxpayer money. (Stick this on your fridge for next time: The public schools and college system, taken together, soak up more than 50 percent of General Fund spending. Health and welfare, 30 percent. Prisons and corrections, 10 percent.)
The poll shows California residents are even more ignorant, if this is possible, about where, exactly, the taxpayer money that funds this mystery state budget is coming from.
Because of Californians' fundamental ignorance, when the two questions are added together, PPIC reports that only "7 percent of adults can correctly name both the top spending (K-12 education) and the top revenue (personal income tax)" in California.
If Californians, who this November will be voting on ballot measures involving spending and government reform, do not have any idea where the money is going, and do not have any idea where the money is coming from, what exactly do they know?