business

Portrait Of An Anxious Public

Watch out, bureaucrats. Americans are gloomy about their prospects and gloomy about the role of government in their lives. Most think the American Dream is slipping out of their grasp--and they know whom they blame. Fully 73% think that government spending is at fault for stagnating incomes, and 61% cite high taxes. And the public has scant confidence in those running government institutions. The feds come in dead last, with only 8% of the public expressing a great deal of confidence in them. Folks in state and local governments don't fare much better, at 9%. The heroes here are entrepreneurs, who come in at 42%.

It's also a good time to be an outsider. Colin Powell takes the No.1 slot, winning the approval of 74%. Newt Gingrich, by contrast, comes in at No.6, with 38%. There's a pleasant surprise for Bill Clinton: He comes in second, with 54% expressing approval of the President.

WHO'S REPRESENTED?

In general, does the U.S. Represents

government usually represent American people 30%

interests of the American Represents

people or the narrow concerns special interests 63%

of special-interest groups? Not sure 7%

WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS? 1995 1989

Do you expect your children Better life 46% 59%

will have a better life Worse life 20% 10%

than you have had, a About as good 27% 25%

worse life, or a life about No children 6% 0%

as good as yours? Not sure 1% 6%

THE AMERICAN DREAM-NOW...

For most Americans, do you think Easier to

the American Dream of equal oppor- achieve 31%

tunity, personal freedom, and social Harder to

mobility has become easier or harder achieve 67%

to achieve in the past 10 years? Not sure 2%

...AND IN YEARS TO COME

And do you think this American Easier to achieve 22%

Dream will be easier or harder to Harder to achieve 74%

achieve in the next 10 years? Not sure 4%

FAITH IN INSTITUTIONS

As far as people in charge of running each of the following are concerned, would you say that you have a great deal of confidence, only some confidence, or hardly any confidence at all in them?

A GREAT DEAL ONLY SOME HARDLY ANY NOT OF CONFIDENCE CONFIDENCE CONFIDENCE SURE

Small businesses 42% 47% 10% 1%

Religious institutions 24% 50% 23% 3%

Big businesses 19% 51% 28% 2%

The news media 15% 49% 36% 1%

Republicans in Congress 13% 51% 34% 2%

Hollywood and the

entertainment industry 13% 39% 44% 4%

Democrats in Congress 11% 51% 36% 2%

State and local government 9% 60% 29% 2%

Labor unions 8% 47% 41% 4%

The federal government 8% 53% 39% 0%

STAGNANT INCOMES

Government statistics show that incomes for many working Americans have stayed flat for 15 years. Would you say that each of the following is a major reason, a minor reason, or not a reason at all for the phenomenon?

MAJOR MINOR NOT A NOT REASON SURE

Increased government spending 73% 17% 8% 2%

High taxes 61% 28% 9% 2%

The decline of the

manufacturing economy 56% 34% 8% 2%

Increasing global competition 52% 33% 12% 3%

Excesses of Big Business

and Wall Street 44% 39% 12% 5%

Declining membership

in labor unions 24% 42% 29% 5%

INFLUENCE PEDDLING

How important is it for

Congress Very important 59%

and the White House to limit Somewhat important 31%

the lobbying and campaign Not very important 5%

contributions of industries Not important at all 5%

and advocacy groups? Not sure 0%

SERVICES FOR IMMIGRANTS

California voters approved Proposition 187,

which restricts state-provided social services Favor 60%

to illegal immigrants. Would you favor or Oppose 37%

oppose such an initiative in your state? Not sure 3%

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

Would you favor or oppose a law limiting Favor 51%

affirmative-action programs in your state? Oppose 38%

Not sure .11%

LOOKING FOR LEADERSHIP

Do you approve or disapprove of

each of the following? APPROVE DISAPPROVE NOT

SURE

Retired General Colin Powell 74% 14% 12%

President Bill Clinton 54% 42% 4%

Reverend Jesse Jackson 46% 48% 6%

Independent Ross Perot 45% 50% 5%

House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt 43% 33% 24%

House Speaker Newt Gingrich 38% 48% 14%

Retired Colonel Oliver North 35% 58% 7%

Former California Governor Jerry Brown 35% 45% 20%

Radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh 34% 55% 11%

Political commentator Pat Buchanan 33% 45% 22%

Television evangelist Pat Robertson 25% 60% 15%

Survey of 1,249 adults conducted Feb. 16-19, 1995, for BUSINESS WEEK by Louis Harris & Associates. Previous survey was of 1,250 adults conducted Aug. 25-29, 1989. Results should be accurate to within 3 percentage points.

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE