A new survey paints a more nuanced picture of public attitudes about government and business …

To hear the politicians in Washington talk, the American people are either looking for government to solve society’s ills … or they want government to butt out completely.

2013 Public Affairs Pulse SurveySuch black-and-white perspectives rarely turn out to be accurate … and now we have additional proof in the form of a May 2013 telephone survey of ~1,600 adults living in the United States, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates for the Public Affairs Council, a leading professional organization for public affairs executives (nonpartisan).

Among the key takeaways of the 2013 Public Affairs Pulse survey research:

  • Trust in business:  Three out of four respondents feel that major companies generally do a good job of “providing useful goods and services,” and two-thirds also believe they’re doing a good job of serving their customers.  But by similar margins, they also believe that companies should take on more responsibility in providing community services like quality education, affordable healthcare, and food banks.
  • Government regulations:  Opinions are split;  a slight majority (~52%) feels that government regulation of business “usually does more harm than good” … but ~44% believe that “regulation is necessary to protect the public interest.”
  • Trust in government declines with age (and familiarity?):  A majority of Millennials give the federal government favorable scores, compared to ~44% of Gen Xers and just 35% of Baby Boomers.

Another figure stands out, too:  Only around 37% of the respondents express “a lot” or “some” trust and confidence in the government’s ability to fix the country’s problems.  This finding appears to support the notion that the government is not a panacea for the nation’s problems.

Michael Barone, political analyst and observer
Political analyst Michael Barone first espoused the idea of the “50/50 nation” following the 2000 U.S. presidential election.

But the survey results also underscore the theory espoused by Michael Barone, Mickey Kaus and other observers of the American electorate that America remains a “50/50” nation when it comes to the political parties and their philosophical underpinnings.

… And that puts us right back where we we’ve been for the past decade and a half … despite the posturing of our political leaders.

For additional findings from the 2013 Public Affairs Pulse survey, click here.

The Residential Real Estate Market: Still in the Dumper

Home Foreclosures
U.S. home foreclosures set a record in 2009 ... and are on their way to being even higher in 2010.
When it comes to the U.S. residential real estate market, the latest statistics and forecasts don’t bode well at all for the industry. Recently released stats on foreclosure rates reveal that 2009 was the worst year on record. And unfortunately, 2010 is looking like it’ll shatter the record yet again.

According to RealtyTrac, a firm that monitors real estate and foreclosure data, more than 2.8 million properties in America received a foreclosure notice during the past year. That’s 21% more than in 2008 and a whopping 120% higher than what was reported in 2007.

Moreover, one in every 45 households received at least one filing last year – nearly four times higher than 2006. These ugly numbers were racked up in spite of robust foreclosure prevention programs, without which the figures doubtless would have been significantly higher.

Unfortunately, the scenario doesn’t appear any better for 2010. Unless and until lenders are able to get principal balance reductions, high default rates are going to continue. In fact, RealtyTrac projects that a new record of 3 million or more properties will get a filing this year.

Where are we seeing the biggest problems? Well … in Michigan, to nobody’s surprise. But also in Nevada, Arizona and Florida. Until recently, those were states blessed with dramatic – even outsized – population and job growth, along with commensurately growing political power.

But as outlined in a recent article by Michael Barone, in an interesting twist of fate, these states are now experiencing net out-migration, while erstwhile laggard states in the Northeast and Midwest are now showing net in-migration.

It’ll likely take years to sort out the scrambled residential real estate market we have today – a situation sparked by a housing crisis for which many in government and the private sector are responsible … but which has also caught far too many innocent people in its clutches. Hopefully, the lessons learned will not be soon forgotten.