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Who’d a-Thunk It?

Here are the opening lines of a report in today’s Washington Post:

An overwhelming majority of District residents support a proposal before the D.C. Council to give each worker in the city 16 weeks of paid time off to care for a newborn or for a dying family member, according to a Washington Post poll.

There’s just one hitch: More than half of those polled also say they don’t want workers to have to pay for it themselves.


Bob walks into a barroom.  The bartender asks Bob if he’d like a glass of $100-a-shot fine scotch if Betty, a stranger sitting at the other end of the bar, will pay for it.  Bob says “Yes!  I support your excellent and progressive plan to give me a glass of fine scotch if someone else pays for it!”

Soon afterward, the bartender, who’d planned to put a gun to Betty’s head to extract payment from her for Bob’s scotch, discovered that Betty has a bodyguard who is more powerful than the bartender.  So the bartender returns to Bob and asks if he, Bob, would like a glass of $100-a-shot fine scotch if he, Bob, has to pay full price for it.  Bob replies “No!  A glass of fine scotch whiskey isn’t worth, to me, $100 a glass.  But I have a right to drink fine scotch whiskey at other people’s expense, even if the amount that other people are forced to pay for my whiskey is greater than is the value of that whiskey to me.  So I will parade and protest and sloganeer until you, Mr. Bartender, devise a way to have other people pay for me to consume things that I don’t wish to pay for myself.  It’s my right!”

And so it goes.


Using polls – even ones called “elections” – is a poor way to determine what people really “want.