Public Confidence And Trust (2): Observations On Gallup’s Confidence In Institutions Poll

In Part 1, we looked at the implications of Gallup’s 2017 polling on Americans’ beliefs in the trustworthiness and honesty of various occupations.  This post looks at institutions, and what Gallup’s research shows us when those polled answer the question, “Now I am going to read you a list of institutions in American society. Please tell me how much confidence you, yourself, have in each one — a great deal, quite a lot, some or very little?”

As with the occupations poll results, what is most interesting—or depressing— is how the public’s attitude has changed over time. Gallup has been taking this poll at the end of every year since 1993, and in some years, for some institutions, before that.

The most important finding is that Americans have less trust and confidence in our institutions than ever before, and have been in this state for three straight years. (See chart above.) The 32% average confidence level in all institutions measured was one point above 2016, which came in at a record low 31%, but that difference is not statistically significant. This is the third straight year that the number has been under 33%. That has never happened before.

I have written about this issue in the past (and discussed it with professional groups, like newly elected state legislators, in ethics seminars), with the same alarm. For a democracy to lack confidence and trust in its institutions portends disaster, and the danger cannot be understated. Of all forms of government, it is democracy that is most built on a foundation of public trust. This erosion in public trust—the average level of trust has fallen about 26% in just ten years—is collectively frightening. Look at the first line and the last in many of these charts:

Churches: Trusted a Lot or more in 1973: 65%  Trusted a Lot or more in 2017: 41%

Public Schools:  Trusted a Lot or more in 1973: 58%  Trusted a Lot or more in 2017: 36%

The Presidency: Trusted a Lot or more in 1973: 75%  Trusted a Lot or more in 2017: 32%

The Medical System: Trusted a Lot or more in 1975: 80%  Trusted a Lot  or more in 2017: 37%

Banks: Trusted a Lot or more in 1979: 60%  Trusted a Lot or more in 2017: 37%

Television News: Trusted a Lot or more in 1975: 46%  Trusted a Lot or more in 2017: 24%

Congress: Trusted a Lot or more in 1973: 42%  Trusted a Lot or more in 2017: 12 %

That last one is the canary dying in the mine. Congress, the democratic institution that uniquely represents public interests, is the only institution in which the majority of Americans have little or no confidence at all.

How much lower can these levels of trust go before the nation and the culture unravels? I don’t want to find out, do you?

Gallup notes that confidence in our institutions fell in 2017 even though other measures of public attitudes improved. It concludes,

“Even as Americans regain confidence in the economy and are no longer in the depths of dissatisfaction with the way things are going in the nation, they remain reluctant to put much faith in these institutions at the core of American society.

Each institution has its own specific probable causes for this situation. But the loss of faith in so many at one time, while Americans are becoming more positive in other ways, suggests there are reasons that reach beyond any individual institution. The task of identifying and dealing with those reasons in a way that rebuilds confidence is one of the more important challenges facing the nation’s leaders in the years ahead.”

The solution to the problem should be pretty obvious, right? Institutions are made up of people, professionals, the so-called “elites” who are obligated to model the very best ethical behavior because the nature of their role in our society demands public trust. Those people have failed to meet this standard, openly, repeatedly, and for a long time.

Writes Nils Gilman at American Interest,

“Perhaps the most insidious threat facing Western democracies has been the progressive decline of elite accountability and responsibility. “Today’s elite is more talented and open but lacks a self-conscious leadership code. The language of meritocracy (how to succeed) has eclipsed the language of morality (how to be virtuous),” David Brooks observed in 2012. “They have no sense that they are guardians for an institution the world depends upon; they have no consciousness of their larger social role.” This “hollow elite,” as Charles Murray called it in Coming Apart, is doubtless one element of the rise of populisms across the Western world—nor are such observations restricted to right-of-center critics.1 Poll after poll shows a collapse of ruling-class credibility, particularly among the young, and an increasing inclination to embrace strongmen who promise accountability and results….

While anything as large and long a trend as the decline in elite accountability in general, and the attendant loss in confidence in institutions, necessarily entails complicated causal explanations,2 one important dimension to the story concerns political elites, the most visible form of the species, who in many respects set the moral tone within secular society.”

Gilman also finds significance in the two institution Gallup found had most held on to the public trust over the decades: small business and the military. He explains,

“The two major exceptions are the military and small businesses—tellingly, both institutions whose leaders are often seen as taking (or perhaps having no choice but to take) responsibility for failure. In other words, it’s not so much the failure to perform that costs institutions credibility as it is the failure to hold leaders accountable when their institutions fail. For better or worse, fair or not, we’ve seen more than a few military leaders get sacked for various improprieties, and everyone knows a small business owner who’s personally taken it in the chops when business declined. But a bank CEO jailed for massive fraud that ruined the lives of countless families? Too big to indict.”

The key to reversing the dangerous trend of declining trust, I believe, is requiring the leaders of our institutions to display ethical values, including the acceptance of accountability when they breach those values.

Here are the Gallup institution poll results, measuring how much confidence and trust the public has in the various insitututions.

The church or organized religion
Great deal Quite a lot Some Very little None (vol.) No opinion Great deal/Quite a lot
% % % % % % %
2017 23 18 29 25 3 2 41
2016 20 21 31 24 3 1 41
2015 25 17 32 20 3 2 42
2014 25 20 29 20 4 2 45
2013 25 23 32 17 2 2 48
2012 25 19 29 22 4 1 44
2011 25 23 29 20 2 1 48
2010 25 23 30 18 2 2 48
2009 29 23 29 14 3 2 52
2008 26 22 31 15 2 3 48
2007 24 22 30 21 2 2 46
2006 28 24 26 19 2 1 52
2005 31 22 28 16 2 1 53
2004 26 27 28 15 2 2 53
2003 27 23 30 17 2 1 50
2002 26 19 32 18 3 2 45
2001 32 28 24 13 2 1 60
2000 28 28 26 14 2 2 56
1999 32 26 28 12 1 1 58
1998 34 25 26 12 1 2 59
1997 35 21 28 12 2 2 56
1996 30 27 27 13 2 1 57
1995 32 25 28 11 2 2 57
1994 29 25 29 14 2 1 54
1993 29 24 29 14 3 1 53
1991 Oct 31 25 27 12 2 3 56
1991 Feb 33 26 26 12 1 2 59
1990 33 23 26 14 2 2 56
1989 30 22 26 17 3 3 52
1988 35 24 27 11 2 1 59
1987 35 26 28 10 1 1 61
1986 34 23 27 12 3 1 57
1985 42 24 21 11 1 1 66
1984 41 23 22 13 2 64
1983 39 23 26 9 1 2 62
1981 40 24 20 11 5 1 64
1979 40 25 21 11 1 2 65
1977 38 26 20 13 1 3 64
1975 44 24 20 9 1 2 68
1973 43 22 21 7 4 2 65
(vol.) = Volunteered response; * Less than 0.5%
Gallup
The Supreme Court
Great deal Quite a lot Some Very little None (vol.) No opinion Great deal/Quite a lot
% % % % % % %
2017 18 22 40 16 1 2 40
2016 15 21 41 22 1 1 36
2015 14 18 42 23 2 2 32
2014 12 18 41 24 2 2 30
2013 13 21 42 21 2 2 34
2012 15 22 38 20 2 3 37
2011 17 20 41 18 2 2 37
2010 15 21 43 16 2 3 36
2009 15 24 41 17 1 3 39
2008 13 19 44 17 1 5 32
2007 14 20 41 21 2 2 34
2006 14 26 41 15 1 3 40
2005 16 25 38 18 1 2 41
2004 16 30 37 14 2 1 46
2003 20 27 38 12 1 2 47
2002 22 28 35 13 * 2 50
2001 22 28 31 13 3 3 50
2000 18 29 35 14 1 3 47
1999 20 29 35 13 1 2 49
1998 24 26 34 12 1 3 50
1997 25 25 32 14 2 2 50
1996 17 28 39 14 1 1 45
1995 20 24 39 14 1 1 44
1994 18 24 38 16 1 3 42
1993 18 25 37 15 2 3 43
1991 Oct 16 23 39 15 2 5 39
1991 Feb 21 27 36 10 1 5 48
1990 19 28 31 16 2 4 47
1989 21 25 33 17 2 2 46
1988 21 35 30 11 1 2 56
1987 13 39 36 8 * 4 52
1986 19 35 32 10 1 3 54
1985 18 38 30 9 1 5 56
1984 22 29 28 15 6 51
1983 14 28 34 16 1 7 42
1981 18 28 32 13 4 4 46
1979 18 27 31 19 1 4 45
1977 17 28 29 16 2 8 45
1975 22 27 28 16 1 6 49
1973 20 25 28 12 5 11 45
(vol.) = Volunteered response; * Less than 0.5%
Gallup
Congress
Great deal Quite a lot Some Very little None (vol.) No opinion Great deal/Quite a lot
% % % % % % %
2017 6 6 39 44 3 1 12
2016 3 6 35 52 3 * 9
2015 4 4 37 48 5 1 8
2014 4 3 36 50 7 1 7
2013 5 5 37 47 5 1 10
2012 6 7 34 47 5 1 13
2011 6 6 40 44 4 1 12
2010 4 7 37 45 5 2 11
2009 6 11 45 34 4 1 17
2008 6 6 45 38 3 2 12
2007 4 10 46 36 3 1 14
2006 5 14 44 32 3 2 19
2005 8 14 51 25 1 1 22
2004 11 19 48 20 1 1 30
2003 10 19 50 19 1 1 29
2002 9 20 53 16 1 1 29
2001 10 16 49 20 2 3 26
2000 7 17 47 24 3 2 24
1999 9 17 51 21 1 1 26
1998 10 18 48 20 2 2 28
1997 9 13 50 24 3 1 22
1996 6 14 50 26 2 2 20
1995 9 12 48 28 2 1 21
1994 7 11 48 29 0 2 18
1993 8 10 40 35 4 2 18
1991 Oct 7 11 43 33 3 3 18
1991 Feb 11 19 44 21 2 3 30
1990 9 15 43 28 2 3 24
1989 13 19 42 21 3 2 32
1988 8 27 45 16 2 2 35
1986 10 31 43 12 1 3 41
1985 9 30 42 15 2 3 39
1984 12 17 40 28 4 29
1983 6 22 42 23 2 5 28
1981 8 21 41 22 6 3 29
1979 11 23 39 23 1 3 34
1977 12 28 34 17 1 7 40
1975 14 26 38 18 1 3 40
1973 15 27 35 11 3 8 42
(vol.) = Volunteered response; * Less than 0.5%
Gallup
Organized labor
Great deal Quite a lot Some Very little None (vol.) No opinion Great deal/Quite a lot
% % % % % % %
2017 13 15 41 27 2 3 28
2016 8 15 44 27 2 4 23
2015 12 12 42 28 3 3 24
2014 10 12 38 33 5 3 22
2013 10 10 42 31 4 4 20
2012 11 10 37 34 4 4 21
2011 9 12 39 33 4 3 21
2010 10 10 41 33 3 4 20
2009 8 11 40 34 5 3 19
2008 10 10 44 28 2 6 20
2007 8 11 45 29 3 3 19
2006 9 15 43 26 2 6 24
2005 12 12 47 23 2 4 24
2004 12 19 43 22 2 2 31
2003 12 16 47 20 2 3 28
2002 11 15 48 21 2 3 26
2001 12 14 43 23 3 5 26
2000 9 16 44 23 2 5 25
1999 13 15 44 24 2 2 28
1998 11 15 45 22 2 5 26
1997 11 12 43 27 2 5 23
1996 11 14 44 26 2 3 25
1995 11 15 46 23 2 3 26
1994 11 15 41 28 3 2 26
1993 9 17 41 26 3 4 26
1991 Oct 10 12 39 32 2 4 22
1991 Feb 11 14 42 25 2 6 25
1990 11 16 40 25 3 5 27
1988 9 17 40 27 4 3 26
1987 7 19 39 28 3 4 26
1986 10 19 39 26 3 4 29
1985 8 20 39 27 3 4 28
1984 13 17 34 32 4 30
1983 8 18 38 28 2 6 26
1981 11 17 32 25 12 4 28
1979 14 22 33 24 3 4 36
1977 15 24 32 21 2 6 39
1975 14 22 34 23 2 6 36
1973 14 16 36 15 9 10 30
(vol.) = Volunteered response; * Less than 0.5%; 1973 Wording: Labor unions
Gallup
Big business
Great deal Quite a lot Some Very little None (vol.) No opinion Great deal/Quite a lot
% % % % % % %
2017 9 12 38 36 3 1 21
2016 6 12 43 36 2 1 18
2015 9 12 41 34 3 1 21
2014 9 12 38 35 5 2 21
2013 9 13 43 31 2 2 22
2012 9 12 40 34 4 2 21
2011 8 11 41 35 4 2 19
2010 7 12 42 35 3 1 19
2009 6 10 42 36 5 1 16
2008 7 13 43 32 3 2 20
2007 7 11 39 38 3 2 18
2006 6 12 40 36 4 2 18
2005 8 14 45 29 2 2 22
2004 7 17 42 30 3 1 24
2003 8 14 44 31 2 1 22
2002 7 13 47 29 3 1 20
2001 10 18 44 23 3 2 28
2000 9 20 45 22 2 2 29
1999 11 19 44 24 1 1 30
1998 11 19 43 23 2 2 30
1997 11 17 43 24 3 2 28
1996 7 17 46 26 2 2 24
1995 8 13 50 24 2 3 21
1994 9 17 42 28 2 2 26
1993 7 16 44 28 3 2 23
1991 Oct 7 15 42 30 2 4 22
1991 Feb 11 15 45 22 3 4 26
1990 9 16 40 28 3 4 25
1988 7 18 42 26 4 3 25
1986 7 21 40 26 2 4 28
1985 8 24 41 22 2 4 32
1984 9 20 39 28 4 29
1983 7 21 39 26 2 5 28
1981 6 14 36 29 11 3 20
1979 11 21 37 26 2 3 32
1977 11 21 35 25 2 6 32
1975 10 24 36 23 2 5 34
1973 10 16 36 20 9 8 26
(vol.) = Volunteered response; * Less than 0.5%
Gallup
The public schools
Great deal Quite a lot Some Very little None (vol.) No opinion Great deal/Quite a lot
% % % % % % %
2017 18 18 35 26 2 1 36
2016 14 16 40 29 1 1 30
2015 12 19 40 26 2 1 31
2014 12 14 42 28 3 1 26
2013 14 18 42 24 2 1 32
2012 11 18 40 28 2 1 29
2011 14 20 38 25 2 1 34
2010 14 20 39 23 1 2 34
2009 15 23 39 20 2 1 38
2008 16 17 42 22 1 2 33
2007 14 19 41 25 1 1 33
2006 15 22 36 23 2 2 37
2005 16 21 39 22 1 1 37
2004 16 25 39 18 1 1 41
2003 15 25 40 18 1 1 40
2002 12 26 41 18 2 1 38
2001 16 22 37 22 2 1 38
2000 13 24 41 19 2 1 37
1999 14 22 37 24 2 1 36
1998 16 21 40 20 2 1 37
1997 18 22 39 19 1 1 40
1996 16 22 38 21 1 2 38
1995 18 22 36 20 2 2 40
1994 14 20 40 23 2 1 34
1993 14 25 37 21 2 1 39
1991 Oct 14 21 38 22 2 3 35
1991 Feb 20 24 36 17 2 1 44
1990 21 24 34 18 1 2 45
1989 19 24 36 18 1 2 43
1988 18 31 35 14 1 1 49
1987 17 33 34 14 1 1 50
1986 17 32 33 16 1 1 49
1985 15 33 32 16 1 3 48
1984 20 28 32 19 2 48
1983 14 25 37 21 1 2 39
1981 16 26 32 20 5 1 42
1979 23 30 30 14 1 2 53
1977 22 31 26 15 1 5 53
1975 29 33 22 13 1 3 62
1973 30 28 27 9 2 4 58
(vol.) = Volunteered response; * Less than 0.5%; 1975 Wording: Education
Gallup
Newspapers
Great deal Quite a lot Some Very little None (vol.) No opinion Great deal/Quite a lot
% % % % % % %
2017 11 16 33 33 4 2 27
2016 8 12 42 34 2 1 20
2015 10 14 41 31 3 2 24
2014 12 10 43 30 3 2 22
2013 9 14 40 32 4 2 23
2012 10 15 41 29 3 2 25
2011 12 16 40 28 3 2 28
2010 9 16 41 29 4 2 25
2009 10 15 43 27 4 1 25
2008 10 14 45 26 2 2 24
2007 8 14 48 26 2 1 22
2006 12 18 40 25 2 2 30
2005 11 17 46 24 1 1 28
2004 9 21 44 23 2 1 30
2003 11 22 49 16 1 1 33
2002 12 23 47 16 1 1 35
2001 13 23 44 16 3 1 36
2000 12 25 38 22 2 1 37
1999 12 21 44 21 1 1 33
1998 14 19 44 20 1 2 33
1997 15 20 43 21 1 * 35
1996 11 21 44 21 2 1 32
1995 12 18 44 24 1 1 30
1994 11 18 42 26 2 1 29
1993 12 19 42 22 3 2 31
1991 Oct 10 22 44 20 2 2 32
1991 Feb 14 23 43 17 2 1 37
1990 15 24 42 16 2 1 39
1988 9 27 46 15 2 1 36
1987 8 23 46 20 1 1 31
1986 9 28 42 19 1 1 37
1985 10 25 42 20 1 2 35
1984 10 24 41 23 2 34
1983 11 27 41 18 1 2 38
1981 10 25 42 18 4 1 35
1979 19 32 35 12 1 2 51
1973 15 24 39 14 4 3 39
(vol.) = Volunteered response; * Less than 0.5%
Gallup
The military
Great deal Quite a lot Some Very little None (vol.) No opinion Great deal/Quite a lot
% % % % % % %
2017 44 28 21 7 * * 72
2016 41 32 19 7 * 1 73
2015 42 30 19 6 1 1 72
2014 39 35 20 6 1 * 74
2013 43 33 17 6 * 1 76
2012 43 32 18 5 1 1 75
2011 47 31 16 3 * 1 78
2010 44 32 18 4 1 1 76
2009 45 37 12 5 * 1 82
2008 45 26 20 7 1 1 71
2007 39 30 21 8 1 * 69
2006 41 32 19 5 1 1 73
2005 42 32 18 7 1 * 74
2004 36 39 19 5 * 1 75
2003 48 34 14 4 * * 82
2002 43 36 16 5 * * 79
2001 32 34 24 6 2 2 66
2000 25 39 26 7 1 2 64
1999 34 34 26 6 * * 68
1998 33 31 25 8 1 2 64
1997 30 30 27 10 2 1 60
1996 30 36 25 7 * 2 66
1995 33 31 27 7 1 1 64
1994 30 34 26 8 * 2 64
1993 32 35 23 8 1 1 67
1991 Oct 35 34 20 8 1 3 69
1991 Feb 52 33 11 3 * 1 85
1990 37 31 22 7 1 2 68
1989 31 32 26 9 * 3 63
1988 23 35 30 9 1 2 58
1987 24 37 28 9 1 2 61
1986 29 34 24 10 1 2 63
1985 24 37 28 8 1 2 61
1984 28 30 24 15 2 58
1983 23 30 29 12 1 5 53
1981 22 28 29 14 6 2 50
1979 25 29 29 14 1 3 54
1977 23 34 25 11 1 6 57
1975 27 31 25 11 1 5 58
(vol.) = Volunteered response; * Less than 0.5%
Gallup
The presidency
Great deal Quite a lot Some Very little None (vol.) No opinion Great deal/Quite a lot
% % % % % % %
2017 19 13 20 42 5 1 32
2016 16 20 27 33 3 1 36
2015 16 17 27 35 5 1 33
2014 14 15 27 36 8 1 29
2013 19 17 27 30 5 1 36
2012 17 20 27 32 4 1 37
2011 15 20 28 32 4 1 35
2010 16 20 26 31 6 1 36
2009 26 25 24 19 4 1 51
2008 13 13 25 41 7 2 26
2007 12 13 28 39 7 1 25
2006 15 18 25 36 4 1 33
2005 21 23 27 25 3 1 44
2004 23 29 25 20 2 1 52
2003 26 29 28 14 1 2 55
2002 29 29 29 11 1 1 58
2001 23 25 33 15 2 2 48
2000 15 27 37 18 2 1 42
1999 23 26 30 19 1 1 49
1998 25 28 29 15 2 1 53
1997 23 26 31 17 2 1 49
1996 14 25 40 18 1 2 39
1995 21 24 34 19 1 1 45
1994 16 22 34 24 3 1 38
1993 19 24 32 20 3 2 43
1991 Oct 21 29 32 14 3 1 50
1991 Feb 38 34 21 5 1 1 72
1975 23 29 29 14 2 3 52
(vol.) = Volunteered response; * Less than 0.5%
Gallup
The medical system
Great deal Quite a lot Some Very little None (vol.) No opinion Great deal/Quite a lot
% % % % % % %
2017 18 19 35 26 1 1 37
2016 17 22 36 23 1 1 39
2015 17 20 37 23 2 1 37
2014 17 17 36 26 3 2 34
2013 15 20 38 25 1 1 35
2012 20 21 34 23 3 * 41
2011 15 24 35 24 2 * 39
2010 16 24 38 20 1 1 40
2009 15 21 41 21 2 1 36
2008 16 19 38 24 2 1 35
2007 13 18 38 28 2 1 31
2006 14 24 36 22 1 1 38
2005 19 23 33 23 1 1 42
2004 15 29 37 17 1 1 44
2003 19 25 36 19 1 * 44
2002 15 23 42 18 1 1 38
2001 15 25 38 19 2 1 40
2000 14 26 37 21 2 * 40
1999 17 23 36 22 1 1 40
1998 16 24 40 18 1 1 40
1997 15 23 38 21 2 1 38
1996 15 27 38 18 1 1 42
1995 18 23 38 18 2 1 41
1994 14 22 38 24 2 * 36
1993 14 20 34 28 3 1 34
1977 ^ 39 35 15 7 1 3 74
1975 ^ 44 36 13 4 * 2 80
(vol.) = Volunteered response; * Less than 0.5%; ^ 1975-1977 Wording: Medicine
Gallup
Banks
Great deal Quite a lot Some Very little None (vol.) No opinion Great deal/Quite a lot
% % % % % % %
2017 14 18 39 27 1 1 32
2016 11 16 47 25 1 1 27
2015 12 16 45 24 2 1 28
2014 10 16 43 28 2 * 26
2013 10 16 45 26 2 1 26
2012 9 12 42 33 2 1 21
2011 10 13 40 33 3 1 23
2010 9 14 45 28 2 1 23
2009 8 14 49 26 3 1 22
2008 11 21 45 21 1 1 32
2007 15 26 44 13 1 1 41
2006 18 31 39 10 * 1 49
2005 22 27 39 11 1 * 49
2004 17 36 36 10 * 1 53
2003 19 31 38 11 1 * 50
2002 17 30 39 12 1 1 47
2001 17 27 41 13 1 1 44
2000 14 32 41 11 1 1 46
1999 16 27 40 15 1 1 43
1998 16 24 43 14 1 2 40
1997 17 24 42 15 1 1 41
1996 16 28 41 13 1 1 44
1995 18 25 42 12 1 2 43
1994 12 23 46 17 * 2 35
1993 14 23 42 19 1 * 37
1991 Oct 9 20 44 23 2 1 29
1991 Feb 12 20 46 19 2 1 32
1990 13 23 40 21 2 1 36
1989 18 24 38 16 2 2 42
1988 16 33 38 11 1 1 49
1987 15 36 38 10 1 1 51
1986 13 36 37 12 1 1 49
1985 15 36 36 11 1 2 51
1984 20 31 33 14 2 51
1983 19 32 34 12 1 2 51
1981 16 31 36 13 4 1 47
1979 21 39 29 9 1 2 60
(vol.) = Volunteered response; * Less than 0.5%; 1979-1984 WORDING: Banks and Banking
Gallup
Television news
Great deal Quite a lot Some Very little None (vol.) No opinion Great deal/Quite a lot
% % % % % % %
2017 11 13 31 39 5 1 24
2016 8 13 38 38 2 1 21
2015 10 11 37 36 5 1 21
2014 10 8 42 33 6 1 18
2013 11 12 38 36 3 1 23
2012 11 10 39 34 4 1 21
2011 13 14 40 28 4 1 27
2010 11 11 41 32 4 1 22
2009 10 13 41 31 4 1 23
2008 11 13 43 28 3 2 24
2007 10 13 40 33 3 1 23
2006 12 19 40 25 3 1 31
2005 12 16 45 24 2 1 28
2004 11 19 40 26 3 1 30
2003 16 19 47 16 1 1 35
2002 14 21 43 19 2 1 35
2001 14 20 43 19 3 1 34
2000 11 25 40 21 2 1 36
1999 14 20 41 24 1 * 34
1998 15 19 40 24 1 1 34
1997 14 20 42 20 3 1 34
1996 13 23 39 22 2 1 36
1995 13 20 41 23 2 1 33
1994 15 20 37 25 2 1 35
1993 19 27 36 16 2 * 46
(vol.) = Volunteered response; * Less than 0.5%
Gallup
The police
Great deal Quite a lot Some Very little None (vol.) No opinion Great deal/Quite a lot
% % % % % % %
2017 31 26 28 14 1 1 57
2016 25 31 29 13 1 1 56
2015 25 27 30 16 2 1 52
2014 25 28 31 14 2 * 53
2013 26 31 30 12 1 1 57
2012 26 30 28 15 1 * 56
2011 25 31 30 11 2 * 56
2010 26 33 27 12 1 1 59
2009 28 31 29 10 1 * 59
2008 28 30 30 10 1 1 58
2007 23 31 33 12 1 1 54
2006 25 33 29 10 2 1 58
2005 28 35 29 7 1 63
2004 24 40 26 10 * * 64
2003 29 32 29 9 1 * 61
2002 28 31 31 9 1 * 59
2001 26 31 31 11 1 * 57
2000 18 36 33 10 2 1 54
1999 24 33 33 10 * 1 57
1998 26 32 30 10 1 1 58
1997 27 32 30 10 1 * 59
1996 22 38 28 11 1 * 60
1995 26 32 30 10 1 1 58
1994 22 32 33 11 1 1 54
1993 22 30 35 11 1 1 52
(vol.) = Volunteered response; * Less than 0.5%
Gallup
The criminal justice system
Great deal Quite a lot Some Very little None (vol.) No opinion Great deal/Quite a lot
% % % % % % %
2017 14 13 37 32 2 1 27
2016 9 14 40 34 2 * 23
2015 9 14 42 31 3 1 23
2014 10 13 40 32 4 1 23
2013 10 18 40 30 2 1 28
2012 11 18 41 26 3 1 29
2011 13 15 42 27 2 1 28
2010 9 18 44 24 3 1 27
2009 11 17 44 25 2 1 28
2008 8 12 44 32 2 2 20
2007 7 12 44 33 2 1 19
2006 9 16 43 28 3 1 25
2005 9 17 45 26 2 1 26
2004 10 24 42 22 1 1 34
2003 10 19 45 25 1 * 29
2002 9 18 46 24 2 1 27
2000 8 16 42 30 3 1 24
1999 8 15 40 34 3 * 23
1998 9 15 40 32 3 1 24
1997 8 11 40 35 5 1 19
1996 6 13 38 38 4 1 19
1995 9 11 37 37 5 1 20
1994 6 9 35 44 5 1 15
1993 6 11 38 39 4 2 17
(vol.) = Volunteered response; * Less than 0.5%
Gallup
Small business
Great deal Quite a lot Some Very little None (vol.) No opinion Great deal/Quite a lot
% % % % % % %
2017 33 37 23 7 * * 70
2016 30 38 24 7 * * 68
2015 34 33 26 6 * 1 67
2014 29 33 27 10 1 1 62
2013 29 36 27 7 * 1 65
2012 30 33 29 6 * 1 63
2011 28 36 26 8 * 1 64
2010 30 36 26 6 * 1 66
2009 30 37 26 7 * 1 67
2008 28 32 31 7 * 2 60
2007 24 35 32 7 * 2 59
1998 25 32 34 9 0 1 57
1997 32 31 29 5 1 2 63
(vol.) = Volunteered response; * Less than 0.5%
Gallup
News on the internet
Great deal Quite a lot Some Very little None (vol.) No opinion Great deal/Quite a lot
% % % % % % %
2017 7 9 23 42 5 4 16
2014 8 11 40 29 5 6 19
1999 8 13 35 22 3 19 21
(vol.) = Volunteered response; * Less than 0.5%
Gallup
Health Maintenance Organizations or HMOs
Great deal Quite a lot Some Very little None (vol.) No opinion Great deal/Quite a lot
% % % % % % %
2013 8 11 45 29 2 4 19
2012 8 11 44 29 3 6 19
2011 7 12 39 35 4 4 19
2010 8 11 43 28 4 5 19
2009 8 10 44 31 4 3 18
2008 6 7 41 38 3 5 13
2007 7 8 39 38 4 4 15
2006 6 9 40 33 5 6 15
2005 7 10 43 35 2 3 17
2004 6 12 39 36 4 3 18
2003 7 10 39 38 4 2 17
2002 5 8 36 42 5 4 13
2001 7 8 34 40 7 4 15
2000 6 10 35 38 7 4 16
1999 8 9 34 42 4 3 17
(vol.) = Volunteered response; * Less than 0.5%

 

 

 

 

48 Comments

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48 responses to “Public Confidence And Trust (2): Observations On Gallup’s Confidence In Institutions Poll

  1. Other Bill

    My personal theory on why this has happened? The Baby Boom. We’ve done horribly as stewards of the country. Maybe the next generation can do better. Take it away, Spartan.

    (An enlightening article taking off from the question of whether or not the Obamas are baby boomers.
    http://archive.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/brainiac/2007/12/obama_boomer_or.html)

  2. charlesgreen

    Jack, kudos to you for publishing this, and for providing the detail as well. I agree with you that this stuff is as mission-critical as anything.

    As you know, my life’s work is studying trust, and while I focus on interpersonal trust, you can’t ignore the systemic institutional issues either. In fact, they are connected.

    In fact, I agree with your fundamental point that the cure for what ails our institutions must lie in personal behaviors, personal relationships, personal ethics.

    Without taking anything away from that fundamental and massive agreement, let me suggest two tweaks to the issue as you have presented it.

    The first is that this is NOT simply a US phenomenon. I recommend even more sobering reading from the Edelman Trust Barometer, a study that has been ongoing for over a decade. See the 2017 version here:
    https://www.edelman.com/global-results/

    That survey covers about 18 western countries: fully half of them report the level of distrust in institutions – business, communications, NGOs, CEOs, etc. – not materially different from what we see in the US.

    Second, I want to underscore the counter-argument to your (and my) claim that the answer lies in individual responsibility. Enormous numbers of people and perspectives in effect argue for the opposite – impersonal social engineering.

    This kind of argument is found in business in the form of incentives, performance metrics, and a “compliance” approach to ethics. None of it is intended as anti-person responsibility, but I believe it surely has that effect.

    I believe it is also found in the global attraction of populism (aka tribalism), which you can also argue is the result of slowed economic growth – but that argument also takes away agency of the individual.

    Academia has to take some blame as well, for having focused solely on explaining how things work, without ever offering the antidote, which is an ethical response. When neuropsychologists preach about “how” we come to make moral judgments, they have managed to strip all the ethics out of the explanation, leaving only atoms. It is, i assure you, very bad metaphsyics, and it is endemic.

    And so on. Apologies for the length, but to put it in one sentence: Yes, the times they do suck, and the answer lies not in social engineering (or fragmented social units), but in a renaissance of interpersonal responsibility.

    • Other Bill

      My theory Charles: We’re not a Judeo-Christian nation. The ten commandments and the golden rule don’t apply. They’re inoperative. We’re a Pagan/Classical Greek society. Gods and Titans rule with impunity. They are feared and admired. Harvey Weinstein and all the others are Titans. They are looked up to because they are powerful and wealthy. The Clintons, the titans of Silicon Valley, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, every Hollywood star, Pro athletes. Investment bankers. Paris Hiltons. These are the people our society elevates and obsesses over.

      • ”We’re a Pagan/Classical Greek society. Gods and Titans rule with impunity […] They are looked up to because they are powerful and wealthy.”

        Great Caeser’s Ghost, THAT’S why I keep quoting Al Czervik, Ty Webb, Judge Elihu Smails, & Thornton Melon; all powerful and wealthy.

        Even outlier Carl Spackler had an Assistant Greens Keeper gig going for him, which was nice!

        • Other Bill

          Let’s not forget Dean Vernon Wormer (white guys and gals in charge in academia) and Carmine the car dealer (I should have included new car dealership owners among the mighty and revered, particularly in local communities. Dang nabbit).

  3. There is a consequence to information overload in our modern world.

    Let’s face it folks, the easier access to information we have (we are having the negative put in our faces constantly) from the media and the internet the less we tend to trust anything. Ignorance truly is bliss.

    Think about that for a couple of minutes.

    • Chris marschner

      Zoltar, you beat me to the information element

      If I could extend this point to couple information with the development of consumer psychology. Over the years we have developed sophisticated messaging techniques in which we can convince people that harbor latent feelings for or against a given product, issue, or group to adopt our way of thinking.

      If we evaluate the messages communicated by highly innovative firms the messages are typically positive while less innovative are focused on saying the competition is not as good. Apply this to politics and we can easily see these constructs – or should I say destructs – in action.

    • adimagejim

      Have almost entirely unplugged from the news, but reality still keeps creeping in through others in life interfacing with ‘information’. I keep smiling and being as positive as possible, but quietly grinding my teeth in the dark.

      After the 2000 election and the wave of attempts to undo a valid election, I privately predicted to confidants the US would eventually devolve into civil war because we weren’t one nation anymore. Gratefully, it hasn’t come true yet. The drum beat is getting louder though, as the megaphones preach propaganda from so many vantage points in culture and society destroying our institutions.

      The hardest part…it feels hopelessly out of control.
      Is there a way out?

      • adimagejim wrote, “Is there a way out?”

        I think there are a few pitching in to buy an island in Fiji but there’s also an international border just to our north where what lies beyond is remarkably similar to the United States with a little more snow and a little more elbow room.

        But seriously; the only way I can see out is for the media to stop being so damned partisan and inciting the public and start returning to ethical journalism, they are the ones fueling the fires of civil unrest/war and as far as I’m concerned all the coming blood shed will be on their hands.

        “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” Malcolm X

        This quote from Malcolm X has taken a while for it to totally sink into the minds of media outlets, but they now fully understand their power and they are wielding that power in irresponsible ways that the authors of the Constitution could have never imagined possible. I think what we are seeing in the media is a clear example of abuse of their power they are intentionally trying to gin up anything they can to achieve their goals of political dominance for the political left whatever the cost. Remember the plot to the James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies?

        • “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth.”

          Witness the current self-congratulatory circle jerk (Oprah/2020!) currently trending which casts a rather harsh light on the herding of Lefties.

          And from the “A Fool & His Money Are Lucky Enough To Get Together In The 1st Place” files:

          ”Tom Steyer, the billionaire environmentalist and Democratic political donor, announced Monday that his advocacy group, NextGen America, will spend $30 million to help Democrats retake the House in 2018”

          For all the good his forays into ‘shaping the minds of Lefties’ has done, he’d have been better off putting all that swag into a big pile, setting it aflame, and dancing around it while chanting at the moon.

          Steyer being hailed as an environmentalist is yet another example of monumental cluelessness.

          The founder of Farallon Capital Management L.L.C. was for coal before he was <b/against, something anyone with a few extra minutes can confirm with but a few clicks.

          “Hypocrisy & Hedge Funds: Climate Change Warrior Tom Steyer’s Secret Life as Coal Investment Kingpin.”

          http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/04/the-epic-hypocrisy-of-tom-steyer.php

  4. Andrew Wakeling

    My observation – this is all very much associated with the late 20th century swing generally to the ‘right’: the concentration on ‘rights’ (of individuals), rather than obligations (to others). The mystery for me is how ‘we’ ( even those who proclaim themselves Christian) have so successfully demonized collectivism. This of course has been very convenient for the ‘rich’.

    There is plenty wrong with communism, and the execution has been truly horrific and full of corruption. But the underlying idea “To whom according to their needs; from whom according to their talents” is spiritually uplifting and surely undeniably ‘good’(?). How do so many (most of you good EA bloggers?) seem to condemn the idea as intrinsically evil?

    The challenge for our children is to build a new and corruption free collectivism. The highest social cachet should go to those who serve others, not to those who enrich themselves.

    “Liberte, egalite and fraternite” are all important, but I suspect in current times it is the third that needs the most attention. Good luck kids!

    • Phlinn

      I disagree. “To whom according to their needs; from whom according to their talents” is authoritarian at it’s core. It is not good, and you can recognize that failing once you consider the following question. Who Decides? If the individual decides for himself, then it is toothless and meaningless, and devolves to free market capitalism. Once you one person decide for others what they need and what their talents are, you create an oligarchy which, when faced with it’s inevitable failures, blames “hoarders and wreckers” and devolves steadily towards totalitarianism.

      • Phlinn

        “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.” C.S. Lewis

        Posted because it is extremely relevant to the problems caused by people who have NOT considered “Who decide?” and think emotionally rather than rationally.

      • Andrew Wakeling

        No. It (“to whom … etc”) is not necessarily ‘authoritarian at its core’, though it might be used (and has been) to support many miserable oppressive regimes. It might simply be a prompt to ‘those that have’ that they might have some moral (even ethical) obligation to help ‘those that haven’t’. At the micro level, in the small community, this often works quite well through the collection plate and charitable works. Re ‘who decides’, there is always the ‘freedom’ to be the self centred sh1t who never contributes, but in a ‘good’ society you might run short on dinner invitations.

        Translating up to the larger scale is admittedly very hard.

    • Chris marschner

      Collectivism is also very convenient for those who want others to serve them.

      The issue at hand is trust not beneficance.

      Corruption free utopian collectives did not work with the pilgrims who wound up nearly starving to death until it was decided that the fruits of the labors would belong to the creator of the fruits and not the collective group.

      US households contribute more resources toward domestic and international aid (philanthropic) than any other country. So to suggest that our problems trusting our institutions lies with our focus on individual rights and not on collective obligations is a thesis with little to no data to support the premise.

    • Joe Fowler

      – But the underlying idea “To whom according to their needs; from whom according to their talents” is spiritually uplifting and surely undeniably ‘good’(?).-
      I’m continually astonished that the brutal violence inherent in this equation is not obvious to everyone. It is not uplifting, it’s a recipe for slavery.

      • Andrew Wakeling

        Well Joe, we are mutually astonished by each other, which is ok. I am not sure that there is necessarily any obligation to be ‘the Good Samaritan’, and of course you can pass by on the other side, as the priest and the Levite did. How promoting the generosity of the Samaritan can be equated to ‘brutal violence’ and ‘slavery’ quite stumps me.

      • charlesgreen

        It’s not obvious at all, Joe, and it’s telling that you think your viewpoint is the only valid one.

        I suggest you visit Singapore for a confounding counter-example. Nobody gives to charity – because the government fully funds the activities for which we use charity in the US. That includes education and healthcare; both of which they pay far less for than we do, and get far better results.

        There are no slums in Singapore, because the government pays for housing. There is very little racism, despite a population composed of three very different ethnic groups. There are no drugs, perhaps because they execute drug dealers, including foreign visitors. On the other hand, there is legal prostitution – heavily regulated by the healthcare system – and plenty of bars open until 2AM. Mortality is low, perhaps because no guns and no drugs.

        Is it a dictatorship? A collective society? Well, Lee Kuan Yew certainly curtailed civil liberties and media rights, and sued political opponents for libel. But they’re also aggressively capitalist.

        To each according to their needs, from each according to their talents? No one would call Singapore communist, or even collectivist, but that just goes to show how useless labels are. They put a lot of emphasis on meritocracy – and on egalitarianism. Inequality is far less than in the US, they tax heavily, and spend it for social good.

        Is it a fair trade? Not if you like guns and drugs and free speech and low taxes. But you get other things in the trade. Many Singaporeans given the choice would gladly stay where they are.

        My point is demonization of phrases like “from each…to each” is just ideological rhetoric, which fades under the examination of real world examples, and does no good for fostering thoughtfulness in dialogue.

        • I must confess CG, I never fathomed I knew so little about Singapore…other than where it is and how to properly spell it…thanks.

          Heck, if they’d allow me to hoist my U.W. Badger (GO BUCKY!!) flags on game days and have affordable (and palatable) beer, they might just get me to emigrate.

          On that suibject, if conditions are as you claim, that place would appear to be extremely attractive to the 100’s of millions living in grinding poverty in the vicinity, wouldn’t it?

          Which begs larger questions: how are they on illegal immigration and why aren’t we hearing about any of the refugee masses headed there?

          It would make sense if they treat them like they do drug dealers.

          “There is very little racism.” That’s a head scratcher, to what do they attribute that?

          • charlesgreen

            ““There is very little racism.” That’s a head scratcher, to what do they attribute that?”

            Here is part of the Wikipedia entry for Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of modern Singapore (c. the 1950s):

            “Lee eschewed populist policies in favor of pragmatic long-term social and economic measures. With meritocracy and multiracialism as governing principles, Lee made English the common language to integrate its immigrant society and to facilitate trade with the West, whilst mandating bilingualism in schools to preserve students’ mother tongue and ethnic identity. Lee’s rule was criticized, for curtailing civil liberties (public protests, media control) and bringing libel suits against political opponents. He argued that such disciplinary measures were necessary for political stability, which together with rule of law, were essential for economic progress.[”

            In other words: anti-racism was fundamental to the driving values of the country (critical since there are roughly equal numbers of Chinese, Indian and Malaysian population).

            • Joe Fowler

              – there are roughly equal numbers of Chinese, Indian and Malaysian population-
              Nope. Seemed wrong based on my experience, so I checked the Wikipedia entry you are cutting and pasting.
              74.3% Chinese, 13.3% Malay, 9.1% Indian
              Not roughly equal, at all.

              • charlesgreen

                Thanks for the correction; I had recalled them as closer in numbers, but stand corrected.
                Still, those are fairly significant minority groupings, and as I noted, inter-cultural harmony is a core value for that country and always has been.

          • charlesgreen

            And here’s Wikipedia on Singapore’s immigration policy:

            Immigration to Singapore is historically the main impetus for population growth in the country since the founding of modern Singapore in the early 19th century. Immigration and immigrant workers in Singapore have been closely associated with the Singapore’s economic development. For a long period after its founding the majority of its population were immigrants; it was not until around the 1930s that the number of native births in Singapore would overtake net immigration. After its expulsion from Malaysia in 1965, immigration laws were modified in 1966 to reinforce Singapore’s identity as a sovereign state. However, the initial strict controls on immigrant workers were relaxed as demand for labour grew with increased industrialisation. Immigration would again become the largest contributor to population increase in Singapore in the late 20th century and early 21st century.

            The Ministry of Manpower (MoM) has a semi flexible law for immigration that starts with procuring an employment pass (EP) [1]. In colonial times, British merchants and others moved to Singapore and helped develop the region. The large flow of migrants into Singapore in more recent times however has raised concerns and curbs on immigration have been introduced.[2]

        • Joe Fowler

          A uniquely located Authoritarian City-State? With a population of a few million? Might not be the example that we should all look to. Let’s say the jury is still out, but not in Singapore! They got rid of those in 1970.
          Fostering thoughtfulness in dialog is helped considerably by precise language, one demonizes others with phrases, one cannot demonize a phrase.

        • I know you know this, CG, but it’s worth saying: policies that work well for small populations in different cultures are not reliable models for larger populations. Singapore’s population is about the size of South Carolina. And, of course, autocratic regimes can have good results, until they don’t, especially in cultures that don’t value personal liberty as highly as Americans do.

          • charlesgreen

            Jack, I totally agree you can’t extrapolate from one small population in a different culture to the US – totally right.

            But that was not my point.

            My point was simply to provide a real-world counter-example to the absolutist assertion by Joe that “I’m continually astonished that the brutal violence inherent in this equation [“from those who…to those who…”] is not obvious to everyone.”

            Not only is it not “obvious to everyone,” most people are capable of seeing that he’s simply wrong. Singapore is but one counter-example of seriously redistributionist societies that work quite well.

            Denmark is another counter-example. Both of them have some things we admire, and some things we don’t. They are also quite different from each other.

            What they share in common is the redistributionist approach to society that Joe claims “obviously” leads to “brutal violence.” Both those societies are considerably, massively, less violent than the US, by the way. In any case, they are clear counter-examples to Joe’s absolutist claim.

            The fact that Joe is so obviously wrong is not the salient point here: the fact that he is massively, assertively ignorant of his wrongness that is more concerning.

            • Joe Fowler

              Charles, you cite 2 examples of small societies (combined populations of about 11 million) with a redistributionist organization, both with quite short experience, i.e. post WW2, and draw conclusions that simply don’t extrapolate to the whole of humanity. The Mormon Church has more members than these countries have citizens, and I rather suspect that you would disagree with those who would suggest that we all follow Mormonism, in spite of whatever benefits one could claim would result.
              The example I would cite that collectivism is enslaving, and leads to brutal violence is this: The world, 20th century.
              I’m pleased to see that you now understand “demonization”, and can properly use it, as you did in your last paragraph.

              • charlesgreen

                Again, you’re trying to weasel out of your original statement.

                You critiqued the classic “from each according to his ability to each according to his need,” and claimed it was self-evidently horrific.

                I pointed out two existing societies which embody similar principles; I characterized them as “redistributionist.”

                I see you are now cleverly switching the terms to equate that phrase with “collectivism,” and claiming the 20th century proves your point.

                It doesn’t. There’s nothing in that original formulation that necessarily implies collectivism (in the way we understand that word to have been applied in the Soviet Union or in Nazi Germany).

                There is implied, in that original formulation, a wide range of social organizations, only two of which I noted as disproof to your absolutist characterization, which take that principle – basically one of social compassion, as Andrew Wakely politely pointed out – in very different directions. You could also, as Andrew pointed out, find a considerable Christian theology which argues for redistribution to the poor. And so on.

                Stop already. You made a wild absolutist claim about a concept which is in fact subject to wide interpretations. I gave you two of them. If you want to talk about collectivism, go find another blog thread on the point rather than hijacking this one.

                • Joe Fowler

                  Unless a voluntary redistribution occurs, as through charity, redistribution depends upon a collective; government is the usual culprit. Citing tiny, short term experiments in redistributionist governments, with their limited success, and not wanting it called “collectivism” doesn’t negate that collectivism is required for redistribution. The “from each…to each…” quote that Andrew used is the fucking rallying cry for collectivism, and redistribution of wealth. Your use of terms and definitions are as suspect as your facts, Charles. Are you sure you want to classify Singapore as redistributionist with a maximum income tax of 22%?
                  BTW, the social compassion that Denmark is famous for looks to be tough going, what with the immigration crisis creating myriad problems in the oh-so homogenous society, and the declining price and production of the oil and natural gas that they have financed their experiment with causing cutbacks all around.

                  • Andrew Wakeling

                    But Joe, we all live in States that are ‘redistributionist’, at least in principle. (Although as Warren Buffett points out, the edistribution doesn’t always work terribly well.) The more you earn, the more tax you pay. And at least for some even in the US, the sicker (needier) you are the more medical benefits you get. There is of course massive scope for differences of opinion on the appropriate extent for redistrubution and the mechanisms. (Even flat taxers tax high earners more.)

                    My original point was simply in relation to the underlying question: why has ‘trust’ declined? My suggestion is that this is associated with the late 20th century move ‘rightwards’ to increase focus on my ‘rights’ as an individual, as compared with my ‘obligations’ to you as a fellow human being / citizen/ ‘member of the club’ or whatever.

                    I have certain ‘rights’ (to play, to access the changing rooms etc.) as a fully paid up member of my golf club, which I could in principle enforce through the Courts. But the club couldn’t work without a general trust between the members, not to cheat, to repair our divots and not to crap in the bunkers. We have obligations to our fellow members, and they have obligations to us.

                    ‘Obligations’ based systems inevitably require mutual trust and encourage collectivism. I am obligated to you, and in return I trust our society to be obligated to me, even though you may be a rat. The Good Samaritan may have simply been ‘good’. I’d prefer to have in mind a more rational and selfish Samaritan who had in mind that he (or his children) might one day be beaten and left half dead by the roadside.

                    • Joe Fowler

                      Andrew, surely you know that the phrase “from each… to each..” is a famous Karl Marx quote, and became a popular slogan for worldwide Communism, and was used repeatedly in the writings of Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin (in the 1936 Soviet Constitution)? Thus, in the context of your original post, I concluded that the redistribution that you referred to had little to do with say, a voluntary charity gift, and rather more to do with forcible confiscation of property from individuals by the State. I also considered the possibility that you were trolling by using the quote, and the attendant “spiritually uplifting” claim; this suspicion increased upon reading your follow up post about the good Samaritan, as the “from/to” quote has been incorrectly attributed to Christ by those on the left in propaganda, repeatedly.
                      The difference of opinion on the amount of redistribution needed, tolerable, or desirable in any society is broad indeed. Broader yet are the differences in how that redistribution should happen. I’m fairly certain that you and I would disagree on these. The obligation one has to one’s fellow man, or let’s say citizen, would also likely put us at some distance from agreement. As to the decline of trust in society, my suggestion is that it is the inevitable result of the left’s 140 year campaign to eradicate the rights of the individual, in favor of the obligations one has to the collective, and their willingness to do anything to achieve their vision. When tried on a large scale, the results have been brutal violence, and slavery.

                  • charlesgreen

                    The 22% is only the income tax. Factor in other taxes and it’s more like 60%. See https://thehearttruths.com/2013/08/16/are-taxes-in-singapore-really-low/
                    Not to mention massive taxes for things like owning a car. It is very redistributionist, but not what we think of as “collectivist.”

                    • Joe Fowler

                      Hmmm….the CPF mentioned, at 20% of income, (with an additional contribution by employers), is interesting. It seems to function as a compulsory savings account to fund retirement, health care and housing.
                      It appears to be used for home purchases, health insurance through the state, AND a bit like an IRA (with a minimum required balance at retirement!). Wow. Not sure why the article you linked refers to private health insurance cost, although as a former British holding, I suppose they have Public/Private options.

                  • Andrew Wakeling

                    Joe : yes I know the association of ‘To whom according …… from whom according’ with Marx, and how some have mis-attributed it to the biblical Jesus. I was not trying to provoke you or others as you seem to have thought: but I am intrigued that you were (provoked). ‘To whom .. from whom’ has roots that go far further back than Marx. Playing games with biblical quotes has little interest for me, as a committed agnostic. If you do play such games you might well like the sound of Mark 4:25 “To whoever hath, shall be given, and to whoever hath not shall be taken even that which they hath”; which may suit you better than the very many instructions to give to the poor. (The quote in Mark wasn’t about money but you don’t have to acknowledge that.)

                    I don’t know why you assume we would necessarily disagree about the appropriate amount of redistribution and the mechanism. We both live in States that would readily confiscate our property if we didn’t pay our taxes, and that have some forms of safety nets. Could we discuss in a civilized way what the principles should be? I don’t know you at all; but I guess ‘probably not’(?)

                    As to your reference to the “left’s 140 year campaign to eradicate the rights of the individual, in favour of the obligations one has to the collective”, I am simply ‘beyond flummoxed’.

                    (140 years, back to 1877? Something to do with the end of reconstruction? No, still flummoxed.)

                    • Joe Fowler

                      The 140 years is a reference to the document which popularized the slogan, “from each…to each…”, the “Gotha Document” based on a letter from Marx to the Social Democratic Workers Party, in 1875. Although used before, the phrase became popular at that point among communists. (The first “bumper sticker”, as it were.) I suppose because it seems so reasonable if not examined carefully; this I say, of course, with the benefit of history.
                      I stand ready to have a civilized discussion at any time about redistribution and how it is done. Although Jack’s fine blog is not the appropriate venue for a lengthy dialog.
                      What do you think is the absolute maximum percentage of an individual’s legal income that the State should be allowed to take from them on an ongoing basis to fund itself, in normal times? (Not at war, recovering from natural disaster, etc.).

                    • charlesgreen

                      (Hopefully replying to Joe, as the threading limit has run out)
                      “What do you think is the absolute maximum percentage of an individual’s legal income that the State should be allowed to take from them on an ongoing basis to fund itself, in normal times?”

                      I remember some anthropologist (wish I could remember who, but it made an impression on me) saying words to the effect that “There is no single rule of human behavior that is valid for all societies – not even murder or incest.”

                      In that same vein, I can’t imagine a single rule about taxable percentage of income that would be meaningful across all situations. Heck we probably can’t even agree on that in the United States, nor have we been able to agree on it for at least the inception of the income tax.

                      Looking for an “absolute maximum percentage of legal income” strikes me as harder than asking for the “absolute maximum percent of debt-to-GDP” that we should entertain; or the “absolute maximum number of times one should marry,” or the “absolute maximum length of vacation one should take.”

                      It’s not a sense-making question, IMHO.

        • Matthew B

          Do you want to know why Singapore won’t work here?

          I am a US citizen. If I believe someone is a legitimate threat to recreate Singapore here, with the loss of the 1st, 2nd, (3rd? Maybe..), 4th, 5th, 8th, 10th, and 14th amendment, I will attempt to kill them or die trying. I’m not dumb, and I’ll make sure more allies of those involved die than my one life to give.

          I’m far from alone.

  5. RWE

    It’s not necessarily a bad thing to lose confidence in institutions, it may force people to look for another answer:
    http://www.jamesallenlibrary.com/authors/james-allen/above-lifes-turmoil/temple-of-brotherhood

  6. Matthew B

    As a gen x’er myself, I’ve held this view for a very long time. Given the outsized voting block the baby boomers have, they have had an inordinate chunk of the voting block for way too many years. Now their numbers are in a decline, and I hope their influence wanes to the betterment of the country.

    Want a good example? Look at the list of their presidents: Clinton, Bush (43), Obama, Trump. Need I say more?

    • Matthew B

      That was intended to be posted under Other Bill’s post of January 8, 2018 at 6:30 pm

      My personal theory on why this has happened? The Baby Boom. …..

    • Matthew B wrote, “As a gen x’er myself, I’ve held this view for a very long time. Given the outsized voting block the baby boomers have, they have had an inordinate chunk of the voting block for way too many years. Now their numbers are in a decline, and I hope their influence wanes to the betterment of the country.”

      1. Why do you hold so much resentment towards the baby boomers?

      2. Why is it that you think as the baby boomers influence wanes it will be to the betterment of the country?

      I think you need to work on overcoming your bigotry.

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