Why do Republicans hate fags?

Andrew Leigh asks: "are smokers more likely to vote for parties of the right (because they believe in individual liberty) or parties of the left (because they tend to be poorer than non-smokers)?" The answer in the United States is that smokers are more likely to vote Democrat than Republican (but it’s not clear why).

A recent study by Harvard researchers S V Subramanian and Jessica Perkins analyzed data from the 1972 -2006 General Social Surveys. Respondents were asked questions about their political affiliation and whether they smoked. After controlling for "demographic and socioeconomic factors", Republicans were 15% less likely to smoke compared with Democrats.

In his book Democrats and Republicans – Rhetoric and Reality, Joseph Fried cites a number of surveys showing that Republicans are not only more likely to be non-smokers, but are also more likely to have brushed their teeth three or more times in a single day and more likely to belong to a health club. In short, Republicans seem to lead healthier lives than Democrats.

While Republicans may believe in individual liberty, this doesn’t always extend to tolerating smoking in restaurants, hotels and motels. A 2005 Gallup survey found that Republicans were more likely to support smoking bans in these places than Democrats. Data for Australia is harder to find, but a small study in Bunbury Western Australia reported that:

… Liberal Party and Green Party supporters were much more likely to be in favour of a total ban [on smoking in smoking in hotels, bars and nightclub] than Labor Party supporters. These differences reflect smoking status rather than political affiliation (i.e. more Labor supporters than Liberal and Green supporters are smokers).

Subramanian and Perkins write that: "It does not seem implausible … that conservative values at the individual level may be health promoting". For example, it may be that Republicans place more emphasis on self discipline and personal responsibility than Democrats. But it’s difficult to know what is causing what. It may be that Republican allegiance and healthy lifestyle behaviours stem from a common cause.

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Patrick
Patrick(@patrick)
12 years ago

must resist hippie jokes….must resist intelligence jokes….must resist hippie jokes…must resist intelligence jokes…

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
12 years ago

I should mention that blogger Steve Kass pointed out an error in an earlier version of Subramanian’s and Perkins’ work. See here and here.

The latest version appears as a letter to the editor in the International Journal of Epidemiology – published online March 5, 2009.

In their letter, the researchers express the differences between Republicans and Democrats as an odds ratio. A media release from the Harvard School of Public Health expressed the findings this way:

After controlling for demographic and socioeconomic factors, the study found that Republicans were 26% less likely to report poor health than Democrats. Republicans were also 15% less likely to be smokers compared with Democrats.

Andrew Norton
Andrew Norton
12 years ago

Don – I think you are right that there is a common cause, and it is likely to be in the sense of personal control that I think promotes happiness, self-controlling behaviours that foster good health, and support for political parties that (at least in theory) promote personal responsibility.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
12 years ago

Andrew – This is interesting because ideas about control and attribution are central to left/right debates over issues like wealth and poverty.

Left wing partisans are often reluctant to discuss the role individual behaviour plays in disadvantage (eg educational attainment, employment, health).

Right wing partisans are often unwilling to discuss structural influences on advantage and disadvantage.

The stereotyped left wing position seems to be that:

1. Right wingers are exaggerating problematic behaviours;
2. The behaviours aren’t harmful, they’re just culturally different;
3. Harmful behaviours would cease once structural inequalities are remedied.

The stereotyped right wing position is something like:

1. Inequalities between population groups would vanish if disadvantaged individuals changed their behaviour;
2. Behaviour is a matter of choice and disadvantaged people are clearly exercising less self-control;
3. Compensating disadvantaged individuals for the negative effects of their choices further undermines self-control and makes disadvantage worse.

Andrew Norton
Andrew Norton
12 years ago

Right-wingers are interested in some ‘structural’ causes of poverty, but generally only those for which the government is responsible, eg bad public schools, welfare state pathologies.

The attitude of left-wingers to attitudinal and behavioural matters is rather split by their victim/oppressor worldview. Bad attitudes and behaviour from lower class persons is due to ‘inequality’, but from the upper classes, and particularly from right-wing politicians, it is due to deep personal wickedness.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
12 years ago

Right-wingers are interested in some structural causes of poverty, but generally only those for which the government is responsible, eg bad public schools, welfare state pathologies.

That true. Charles Murray’s Losing Ground took that kind of line.

The attitude of left-wingers to attitudinal and behavioural matters is rather split by their victim/oppressor worldview.

I wonder how much of the ‘personal wickedness’ claims are a matter of interpretation. Perhaps right wingers are more likely to interpret criticism of their behaviour or their favoured institutions as criticism of their personal morality.

For example, when somebody claims that an institution discriminates against blacks or women, right wingers in positions of authority are liable to perceive this as a claim they personally are racist or sexist.

Perhaps the bias towards explaining outcomes as the result of personal choices and personality traits leads some right wingers to be over-sensitive to criticism directed at systems and institutions.

Andrew Norton
Andrew Norton
12 years ago

There may be some taking personally of structural criticisms. But look how the GFC has been put down to ‘greed’, or how Howard was denounced as a liar and a racist.

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
12 years ago

It’s not just Republicans.

Patrick
Patrick(@patrick)
12 years ago

??? Don, have you spoken to a stereotypical hard-lefty about the members of the Bush administration, about people like Andrew N who are generally opposed to unions, about bankers and hedge fundies, about soldiers?

When the claim is that X is morally bankrupt, greedy and heartless, sadistic, or perhaps just plain evil, then well it is kinda easy for X to intrepret this as criticism of X’s personal morality, isn’t it?

Equally, even being extremely generous to our stereotypically lefty (and Andrew N won’t be, I suspect, since he is literally surrounded by them), if the attack is on an institution such as, say, the ‘army’, or ‘banks’, then soldiers and their families and bankers and their families might also very easily perceive this as criticism of their personal morality, no?

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
12 years ago

Patrick – I heard a couple of left wing women hiss at Andrew N once. It wouldn’t be paranoid if he interpreted that kind of thing personally.

And I’ll admit that all the talk about greed isn’t exactly structural. Personally I thought greed was a constant.

Francis Xavier Holden
12 years ago

I heard a couple of left wing women hiss at Andrew N once. It wouldnt be paranoid if he interpreted that kind of thing personally.

Was he hissed as a representative of the IPA or as a man or was he perhaps hissed as a newt?

Andrew Norton
Andrew Norton
12 years ago

While hissing is personal, I learnt long ago that rude lefties are an occupational hazard. Probably the under-socialised children of hippy parents.

In slight defence of the poor manners of these women, the event was a conference for postgraduate social science students, held in the week after Miranda Devine had criticised a Buffy the Vampire Slayer PhD. The audience was in a state of self-righteous outrage over this, an understandable response (thought not one I agree with) when a prominent columnist tells you that you are wasting your time and our money on trivia.

I can’t recall exactly what I said, but I think it was at least a partial defence of Devine. Having read the list of thesis topics of conference participants before my presentation I was appalled, and probably said so in more polite terms. Only a small percentage of topics were on serious social science questions, or questions that if minor in themselves would at least give them the intellectual skills to tackle serious social science questions. Most of it was Buffy-like self-indulgence.

Interestingly, the Buffy woman came up to me afterwards and said that she did think she should justify her topic.

BTW, I have never worked for the IPA. My think-tank career has been entirely at the CIS.

Tony Harris
Tony Harris(@tony-harris)
12 years ago

Does this mean that the level of civility has not lifted in social science circles since the time in the 1970s when a senior sociologist announced that he was not planning to attend any more annual conferences of the association because he was fed up with being shouted at by students and junior staff?

Tel_
Tel_
12 years ago

There still seems to be strong Puritan Christian feelings in the USA and mostly they are drawn towards the Republican party (presumably intolerance is a turn-on). Once any activity starts to get the aura of “sinful” associated with it, then the “holier than thou” and “more pure than thou” mindset kicks in. These type of people need a constant supply of other people to look down upon.

This is most likely where the fascination with Bill Clinton’s penis comes from. Mind you, Kennedy put his penis a lot more places than Clinton, and you won’t hear many bad words about JFK (being dead has a small number of advantages).

…support for political parties that (at least in theory) promote personal responsibility.

I’m hanging around waiting for one of those to come along.

I wonder how much of the personal wickedness claims are a matter of interpretation. Perhaps right wingers are more likely to interpret criticism of their behaviour or their favoured institutions as criticism of their personal morality.

When you look at how many people are flocking to defend Bush, Cheney, Rove, etc despite their clear role in the Iraq disaster, and many acts of deception (deleted emails, no-bid contracts, political trials, the mythical African uranium, accidental office fire, the mythical WMD, the mythical links between Saddam and OBL, etc, etc), you must surely agree by any measure that these people are not working from a “law and order” ethic but merely from the point of view of “defend our team”. If your only measure of right and wrong is “us right and them wrong”, then personal wickedness becomes completely irrelevant. Then we could talk about the US banking industry and all the “personal responsibility” involved in the bailouts.

The true measure of party integrity (from a law and order standpoint) would be look for cases where the party has deliberately NOT defended wrongdoers in its own midst and instead sought to have the truth brought before public eyes and confronted these people with their own actions.

Right-wingers are interested in some structural causes of poverty, but generally only those for which the government is responsible, eg bad public schools, welfare state pathologies.

Once upon a time there was the idea of anti-monopoly; where it was accepted that a sufficiently large incumbent in any industry will take on the defacto role of government (with all the inefficiency, but without the Democracy) and block competition (either by direct takeover or use of indirect power to gain unfair advantages). To maintain a competitive market, it is necessary for the Constitutional and Democratic government of the day to take its anti-monopoly role seriously (just like the courts should take seriously their role of finding truth and ensuring that justice is even-handed).

Somewhere along the line, both of the major US parties conveniently forgot about all this, and I
think the people of the USA are just beginning their penance for the mistake. The approach switched over to finding excuses to live with the monopolist, and then creating regulation that forced the monopolist to deliver short-term political payoffs in return. This entrenches inefficiency, encourages corruption, and removes the pressure of competition so the industry stagnates.

Patrick
Patrick(@patrick)
12 years ago

Tel, would you care to be more specific about your last paragraph? I am not sure I have guessed correctly what you mean and my guess is at odds with the position I would have expected from you.

Also I can easily say that I and a lot of people I know think very little of JFK, partly due to contempt for his philandering and his family’s general sanctimoniously hypocritical amorality which appears to have affected him no less than any other (Robert was perhaps the exception). I guess we just don’t talk about JFK that much, the advantage you refer to, in action.

AN, further to your penultimate line, did she?

Tel_
Tel_
12 years ago

Tel, would you care to be more specific about your last paragraph? I am not sure I have guessed correctly what you mean and my guess is at odds with the position I would have expected from you.

I had a favourite article talking about Corporatism in the United States, but I lost the bookmark and searched lots and finally came up with an article that seems familiar, and might possibly have been the one I remember:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/750028/posts

What makes corporatism so politically irresistible is that it is attractive not just to the mass electorate, but to the economic elite as well. Big business, whatever its casuists at the Wall Street Journal editorial page may pretend, likes big government, except when big government gets greedy and tries to renegotiate the division of spoils. Although big business was an historic adversary of the introduction of the corporatist state, it eventually found common ground with it. The first thing big business has in common with big government is managerialism. The technocratic manager, who deals in impersonal mass aggregates, organizes through bureaucracy, and rules through expertise without assuming personal responsibility, is common to both. The second thing big business likes about big government is that it has a competitive advantage over small business in doing business with it and negotiating favors. Big government, in turn, likes big business because it is manageable; it does what it is told. It is much easier to impose affirmative action or racial sensitivity training on AT&T than on 50,000 corner stores. This is why big business has become a key enforcer of political correctness. The final thing big business likes about big government is that, unlike small government, it is powerful enough to socialize costs in exchange for a share of the profits.

I personally would regard Corporatism as a sub-category of Socialism, where my definition of Socialism is any political system willing to sacrifice the individual for the good of society (and yes I know that definitions do vary greatly, at least mine is self-consistent, and yes I know that my definition is context dependent, but that’s a feature not a bug).

Back to the question though, beyond the example material linked above, there is the case of Microsoft (obviously I’m a Linux nerd) convicted (not accused, but convicted) of monopolistic behaviour, twice (once each in two continents) and still twiddling thumbs waiting for any actual, err you know that thing that happens after a conviction, err, yeah, punishment. One of Microsoft’s activities declared as monopolistic was forcing hardware suppliers to pay a license fee on each and every unit they shipped regardless of which OS is shipped with that unit. Such contracts were specifically declared anti-competitive, and then no action was taken to follow this up, so this remains the standard business practice in the PC industry (10 years after the trial).

Getting to a different example, Ma-Bell has eaten her babies and reconstructed a position almost identical to the original Bell monopoly that was deliberately broken up in one of the most well known anti-monopoly trials in history. One of the things you most hear about communications in the USA is the lack of competition, territory allocation is normal and in many cases whole towns have a choice of one broadband supplier (plus satellite if they don’t mind the latency, but satellite will never be head-to-head competitive with cable in places where cable is available). Although Helen Coonan was no technical genius, and knew nothing about bits on wires, she did understand the concept of maintaining a competitive industry, and I would argue that Australia is in considerably better position because of this (even though the US get it better than us in some ways, we are seeing progress while they are starting to roll backwards).

Anyhow, from my point of view it fits with what I see as a Libertarian position, believing in Liberty and a personal interpretation of morality doesn’t imply abandoning the idea of right and wrong, nor am I opposed to the rule of law. I merely believe we should prune the laws down to a sensible and manageable set which is both realistically enforceable and consistently enforced. By getting a lot of stupid laws OFF the books, we can redeploy regulation efforts onto the ones that actually matter.

Just as a non-business example, I also believe that having US police zooming around the country chasing a fugitive kid and his mother to try and force them to accept radiation treatment is bordering on insanity and a complete wast of taxpayer’s resources.

Patrick
Patrick(@patrick)
12 years ago

As a broadly libertarian person, I don’t believe much in competition law, especially in the ‘new economy’ area. Does MS have a monopoly? If so is it harmful? Hasn’t google emerged as a meaningful competitor, not to mention firefox in a smaller segment? Has Access taken over the world? I still have other media players installed and in use, a handful in fact. I certainly am stuck with Notes, for example, in two successive workplaces to date.

What about Intel? Do they have a monopoly? If so it is the funny kind that fails to preserve either profits or margins!

So Ma Bell is reconstituting itself – do you really believe that means anything like what it meant 30 years ago? The issue is not monopolies, although it can be, as much as it is the interaction between regulatory design (which can include competition law but doesn’t have to) and the limited ROI on dispersed communities, something Australians should be well aware of.

But your broader points about corporatism are salient enough – especially when applied to agriculture, car manufacturing and banking. I am just very sceptical of competition law in general and doubly/triply/even more so in the computers.

Tel_
Tel_
12 years ago

Personally I think that MS will lose in the long run. You can compare RHAT and MSFT price and I give it a year or two before RHAT is consistently higher (that’s where the trend is going).

The point I was trying to make is that we already have anti-monopoly laws and we already went through the long process of court and evidence and all that stuff, but the laws were not enforced. Clearly once upon a time government had an idea that monopolies should be broken up (i.e. laws were created to this effect), but today they are happy to find ways to live with the monopoly… that’s a fundamental change of approach away from Capitalism and towards Corporatism, and a sign that government throws away the rules when convenient (also clearly the courts are not isolated from political influence).

A sufficiently large corporation without market pressure operates by mechanism indistinguishable from a central planned economy. All the same problems of corruption and inefficiency occur. If no pressure exists to “keep the bastards honest” then you can be sure that they will not be honest by accident. It may be that within the right framework markets keep themselves competitive, or it may be that special force is required now and then. My general point is that there is evidence that markets can become uncompetitive in real situations so it is important to sit down and think about what causes this and what to do about it.

Possibly we can agree then when government offers a privileged position in exchange for delivering political rewards to key voting blocs then we have a dangerous situation. Efficiency is no longer the target, finding ways to collect privileges becomes the target. One of the biggest privileges is to be protected from the need to obey the law that everyone else must obey.

Thus we need some system of isolation between government (all arms of government, the law makers, the law enforcers, and the judiciary) and business, such that they each serve a different purpose, and don’t try to do each other’s jobs. Business does not have the task of winning elections or pandering to key demographics. Government does not have the job of guaranteeing a profit to anyone, nor of protecting any business from market forces. It just can’t work when the referee also has bets on the outcome of the game, so something must maintain a clean separation. Exactly how to effectively achieve these things I really don’t know, at least look for the signs of where it goes wrong.

Patrick
Patrick(@patrick)
12 years ago

I don’t fundamentally disagree, I disagree about the example of microsoft. To wit, I don’t think this statement was ever true for MS or Intel:

A sufficiently large corporation without market pressure

In fact I think it is only in exceptional circumstances in the contemporary world that that can be true, and probably the only examples I can think of that don’t depend on regulation are telephony providers and possibly rail freight providers, and even then I have doubts.

Tel_
Tel_
12 years ago

Well without any specific baggage regarding Intel and Microsoft, do you believe (in general) that it is acceptable business practice for a supplier to pay their customers to NOT STOCK product from competitors of that supplier?

I would have thought that a transaction between a supplier A and their customer B should involve strictly that transaction and other business dealings beyond that (e.g. between supplier C and customer B) would be private information. Even on principle, such a business agreement should not be enforceable.

The other question (which is really the same question in another format) is whether a supplier (who has a published price list, including well understood discounts for volume, discounts for early-payment and all that normal stuff) should be able to offer special strategic discounts to customers who are known users of the competitor’s product? I mean exceptional discounts not available to general members of the public.

Patrick
Patrick(@patrick)
12 years ago

I guess I can’t see any fundamental rule of principle against either practice. The first example I can see a public case against, and I wouldn’t be outraged by a public policy rule against it, but the latter I struggle to find any problem with.