Polls: Government responsible for social needs: Food, healthcare, and education

The Daily

A recent poll found that a broad consensus of American voters, both Obama and McCain supporters alike, feel that government is responsible for basic health care, food and education.

86 percent of Obama supporters and 61 percent of McCain supporters said government should meet its citizens’ basic food needs, according to a new poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland.

Ninety-one percent of Obama supporters feel that the government ought to provide basic health care and education, while McCain supporters feel similarly, but less strongly, with 57 percent for health care and 72 percent for education.

According to a World Public Opinion news release, the poll shows the U.S. public largely concurs with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights clause that states, "everyone has the right to…food, medical care… [and] education."

Most voters feel that the government is doing a poor job in meeting health care needs, with a slim majority of McCain supporters, 55 percent, a larger majority of Obama supporters, 79 percent, and 74 percent of undecided voters disapproving. Majorities approve how education needs are being met.

Despite tough economic times, most people in the world’s leading nations support contributing personal funds to alleviate severe hunger and poverty.

On average, eight out of 10 people in the 20 developed countries surveyed said their countries "have a moral responsibility to help reduce hunger and severe poverty in poor countries," according to another PIPA poll.

Respondents agreed with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) position on the Millennium Development Goal of cutting hunger and severe poverty in half by 2015.

In every country surveyed, citizens agreed to pay an amount personally — ranging from $10 in Turkey to $56 in the U.S. — to cut world hunger, assuming that other countries also did so.

These results were made with the assumption that the entire cost would fall on taxpayers with no business contributions or corporate taxes, according to the PIPA report.

Eighty-one percent of U.S. respondents agreed that we have "a moral responsibility" to reduce hunger, with 76 percent of McCain supporters, 87 percent of Obama supporters and 77 percent of undecided voters in support.

Nearly the same percentage of people agreed to pay the personal amount of $56 required to meet the Millennium Development Goal.

"What this tells us is that, when presented the actual, per-person cost of cutting hunger and severe poverty in half, the people of developed countries are willing to spend what is necessary," said Steve Kull, director of Program on International Policy Attitudes.

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