Stop Asking Americans How to Fix the Economy

Annie Lowrey has a hilarious and sad-because-it's-true piece on the economic wisdom of the polled American:

One thing the polled American does not think the country needs is more bailouts. He hates bailouts. He wishes Barack Obama--it was him, right?--had not given all those bankers all that cash. They didn't need it. He's not big on those Timothy Geithner or Ben Bernanke cats, either, even if he does trust them on the economy more than you might think. He despises the Federal Reserve, even more than he hates the IRS. He thinks it's the Fed that needs auditing, though that might be because he hates the word federal. Those federal workers, for instance? He does not like them. He thinks they are overpaid and probably less qualified than private-sector workers. (He does love astronauts, though, and thinks we should send them to Mars.)

Briefly: Polls are really good ways of learning feelings or attitudes and horrible tea leaves for policy makers to see specific courses of action, and both things are true for the same reason: When you ask somebody a question over the phone while dinner's on the stove, you're going to hear from her gut, not her head.

Read the full story at Slate.