Smarter Than Most Americans And Some Quiz Makers

Trog links to this civics quiz. I got 31 of 33, which is better than the average but only on par with his Trogliness.

However, I must critique the quiz, and I’m tucking that under the fold here so you can take it before you see my spoilers.

17) Sputnik was the name given to the first:

Really? Sputnik? On an American civics exam?

29) A flood-control levee (or National Defense) is considered a public good because:
A. citizens value it as much as bread and medicine
B. a resident can benefit from it without directly paying for it
C. government construction contracts increase employment
D. insurance companies cannot afford to replace all houses after a flood
E. government pays for its construction, not citizens

This answer requires a bit of a judgment call based on your politics. For example, a conservative’s, or at least my, idea of a public good doesn’t really fall into any of those categories. A liberal might say B, and many justify things like redistribution of wealth (ObamaCare, et cetera) based on an idea of an abstract “good” that poor citizens don’t pay for. So I couldn’t choose that one. And E doesn’t fit my definition of public good, because redecorating an official’s office is done by government money, and it’s not something from which the public benefits.

30) Which of the following fiscal policy combinations would a government most likely follow to stimulate economic activity when the economy is in a severe recession?
A. increasing both taxes and spending
B. increasing taxes and decreasing spending
C. decreasing taxes and increasing spending
D. decreasing both taxes and spending

This is asking me to predict what a government would do. I can tell you what the government should do, and it’s about the same as the government should do during an expansion period, too. As the current government is trying to prove, it can do all of the above, somehow, especially in 30 second television spots.

33) If taxes equal government spending, then:
A. government debt is zero
B. printing money no longer causes inflation
C. government is not helping anybody
D. tax per person equals government spending per person
E. tax loopholes and special-interest spending are absent

Notice that the correct answer is actually not here. The correcct answer is that the government deficit is zero. Servicing existing debt is part of the government spending in the question.

Given the problems with the questions above (and you can find other questions that ask what governments should do or what macroeconomic conditions do even though these are not settled fact but topics of contention), I can’t take seriously my score or anyone else’s. I might have interpreted the intentions of the quizzers better than a lot of other people.