Trust in Government

Poll: Americans Commit to Community Involvement Even as They Turn Against Government


Reason 24/7

A new poll finds that Americans are turning away from government and the political process without (how could this be?) becoming disengaged from their communities. Instead, they see the best way of contributing to the world around them to be volunteering time and effort for a variety of charities and civic organizations.

From USA Today:

WASHINGTON — The American impulse to make a contribution to the community is strong, but the feeling that politics can be an avenue to do that seems to be souring.

A new USA TODAY/Bipartisan Policy Center poll finds that Americans by more than 2-1 say the best way to make positive changes in society is through volunteer organizations and charities, not by being active in government. Those younger than 30 are particularly put off by politics. They are significantly less likely than their parents to say participating in politics is an important value in their lives.

In terms of specific attitudes toward government, the "percentage who say they trust the government in Washington to do what is right":

  • Just about always: 4 percent
  • Most of the time: 17 percent
  • Only some of the time: 64 percent
  • None of the time (volunteered): 13 percent
  • Don't know: 2 percent

Helping others remains a priority among those polled but, quite rightly, they're willing to volunter their time through places of worship (45 percent), schools (45 percent), and to "help the needy" (41 percent) long before they'd consider writing a political email or letter (19 percent) or assisting a political candidate (18 percent).

And things are getting better. Only 39 percent of 18-29 year olds consider participating in the political process "most" or "very" important, compared to 53 percent of those 30 and older.

The one fly in the ointment s that there's evidence that distrust in government tends to breed larger government which builds even greater distrust — all the way down the rabbit hole. But that evidence seems based on a link between distrust in government and disengagement from the community, which the USA TODAY/Bipartisan Policy Center poll doesn't support at all.

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  1. I’m wondering how much of this is that people feel powerless to effect any real governmental change and decide to pull together hopefully without drawing the notice of their overlords?

  2. The one fly in the ointment s that there’s evidence that distrust in government tends to breed larger government which builds even greater distrust ? all the way down the rabbit hole.

    Which is of course why the Founding Fathers, who were to a man distrustful of government, proceeded to construct one of the most repressive governments of their era.

    To paraphrase Voltaire, distrust of government is not a pleasant condition but blind faith in it is absurd.

  3. “None of the time (volunteered): 13 percent”

    Does that “volunteered” mean they didn’t offer it as a response, but 13% still said “none”?

    If that’s the case, that seems pretty great. I suppose a lot of those are just republicans that will fall back to loving the state in the next R administration, but still, when the LP gets half a percent, that’s pretty huge.

    1. That jumped out at me. This is a fucking push poll — “only 13% of Americans disagree with Congress and Obama!” levels of bullshit.

      That, or the poll designers are good little liberals who can’t fathom that some people really distrust the government — it’s unpossible to think that way.

      1. I got the impression that they didn’t offer a ‘none of the time’ option and these were the people who spoke up and said it instead of just taking the least available value. Makes me wonder how many of those “only some of the times” are actually “none of the times” who didn’t step outside the structure of the question.

  4. My favorite Mussolini quote. Excellent JD.

    1. How about this one?

      “It’s good to trust others but, not to do so is much better.”

  5. Fuck the community. It’s racist.

    1. Ain’t all of it Florida, G. Some of it’s nice enough.

  6. OT: In an article about age discrimination at the New York Times, I found the most absurd comment of all time.

    Age discrimination, like all other bias and inequality is a bi product of a free market system. It is best described like a Product Life Cycle, fast growth to plateau to decline. Economically fast growth less cost
    plateau moderate cost, decline highest cost. A oxymoron, pay highest cost for declining output. Invert the growth curve, and you have a economic cycle where by transitional forces are at work to re define waves of economic cycles.(i.e. Industrial, Space, Informational, Digital, and whatever the future may bring about.)
    Truth being we all outlive our usefulness and productivity, and must be looked upon by those after us as not valued, in organized work environments. However, the years of service in any economic cycle and transitional cycle are best understood by those with longevity, as they have unique perspectives, unavailable to the ‘after’ workforce.
    Human Resource Management, is under worked, under appreciated, and under educated, even with the “Brightness and Best in any Class, for those with Vision and ability to connect dots and rapidly assimilate change, bring to the table higher productivity and profit to those in the human product cycle.

    I don’t know what i just saw, but it frightens me.

    1. Love the “Vision” with capital letter. Progtastic.

      1. I liked “bi” product myself. I’m just surprised they didn’t opt for the more inclusive “LGBTQQIA product”.

        1. Looks like you fell asleep face down on your keyboard.

          1. Homophobe!

    2. It is best described like a Product Life Cycle, fast growth to plateau to decline.

      “Fast growth”? In an America where adults up to 26 can be considered children (and where increased education burdens prevent “adults” from attaining some understanding of the real world), “fast growth” is what this shrub thinks is the problem?

      Be honest; you got this from Yglesias’ blog, didn’t you?

    3. -Age discrimination, like all other bias and inequality is a bi product of a free market system.

      What an uncommonly silly comment. Free markets tend to reward those who overcome tribal tendencies and irrational prejudices. If I am irrationally prejudice against an excellent older or younger worker and my competitor is not, then the competitor will snatch them up and prosper while I wither.

      Its non-market systems that work to foster irrational hiring decisions, since in those acting in accord with popular prejudices usually leads to economic protection of such practices.

      1. Eh, nothing in there about *rational* discrimination.

        All else being equal, a young’n probably isn’t worth the sum of his parts quite yet — doesn’t have the requisite experience or maturity, so they are paid less than their older peers to reflect this lack.

        1. Well, yes, but rationally they are paid according to their performance rather than their age.

          1. Expected performance but yes, I agree.

      2. To be honest, that’s pretty much the only sentence I understood from that abortion of a comment. I know what all those words mean, but when put together they don’t make sense.

        I mean look at this sentence:

        A oxymoron, pay highest cost for declining output.

        First off, it’s not even a sentence because it has no subject. Secondly, that’s not an oxymoron.

    4. Wait am I having difficulty reading that comment due to my low BAC or because I’ve spent a lifetime spraying kerosene and lighting on fire anyone who speaks to me in corporatese?

      1. You’re having trouble reading it because it doesn’t seem to obey the established laws of English.

        1. I would’ve thought that after teaching 5th grade in the states and English to k-8 in Korea I would be prepared to read anything even pretending to be English. My experiences could not prepare me for reading left-handed physician handwriting or that comment.

      2. I thought I was having trouble reading it due to my moderately high BAC.

      3. I imagine when this fellow opens his mouth his drinking buddies nod indulgently and change the subject.

    5. Must be bot. @horse_ebooks in the NYT.

      That said, if you look too long into that, it’ll look back into you.

    6. He’s been studying Sokal.

  7. I don’t think writing a political letter or an email or assisting a candidate are indicators of turning toward government, since the letter or email could be one critical of government largesse or actions and the candidate could be someone like Ron Paul. I think it would be quite the argument that convinced me that taking your time to assist Ron Paul’s most recent run was a sign of turning toward government.

    1. Clearly you’re too much of a government lover to think straight on this issue. To the re-education camps with you!

      Oh, libertarians don’t *have* re-education camps?! MARKET FAILURE

      1. Oh, we have them. They’re privately run, you can check yourself in or out anytime.

        1. But without roads to get there…

          1. We’d all be too high on legalized drugs and too busy having sex with legalized prostitutes to drive anyways.

            1. Well that’s why misogyny is such a vital part of libertarianism — that way the bare-footed womenfolk we marry can take us places and cook meals at our leisure.

              1. Well of course. With no restrictions on the sale of pornography and no public funding for contraception women in Libertopia will be reduced to objectified prostitutes and/or wives with broken spirits suffering under patriarchal male gazes.

                1. The bartender with whom I’ve been half-seriously flirting now thinks I’m crazy for guffawing at my phone, and honestly, how does one explain the ROADZ joke you the unanointed?

                  1. Would this help?

                    I think Gillespie posted it a month or so ago.

                  2. Dude, if you’re at a bar and trying to flirt with someone, put down the phone and work your magic to tap dat ass.

                    We’re not worth squandering a chance at bartender booty.

                    1. No dice. Unlike Liverpool/Melbourne, I’ve no game. Speaking of which, I don’t normally follow soccer, but that was a riveting match.

                  3. how do you post from phone? I try to type, it always jumps to the top of the article

                    1. Stop the site from loading, and then proceed as normal.

                      That or use a different browser from the default.

        2. Oh, we have them. They’re privately run, you can check yourself in or out anytime.

          You can check out any time you want, but…

          1. but you have to pay in full else you’re washing dishes all night?

          2. er…

            You can check out any time you like, but…

            Have no idea why I did that.

  8. So have we talked about the Kennedy Japan Ambassador thing yet?

    From the NYT:
    “For those who say she doesn’t know a lot about Japan, I say ‘sure,’ but neither did Walter Mondale,” said Kurt M. Campbell, a former assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs.

    “What you really want in an ambassador is someone who can get the president of the United States on the phone,” Mr. Campbell said.

    So we really are some kind of Neo-Feudalist America now? In an article basically shilling for her to get the job the rational put forth seems to basically go: The President could nominate someone with business and/or Japanese cultural expertise to act as his representative with an important ally and trading partner but apparently because such an individual would not hail from one of our prominent noble families he would be more likely to ignore them than this Kennedy. I guess he’d have to answer her phone call or upset his court. Or something.

    1. According to either the official announcement or the slavish press coverage (but I repeat myself), one of her qualifications is that she edited a book of poetry.

      1. I don’t see how our current system is all that different from the spoils system in practice.

        Oh wait, I do: with the spoils system, you were guaranteed that appointees would be tossed on their ass once the next guy got voted in.

    2. I remember when the Bushpigs started doling out ambassador appointments they just picked the idiot Christian fundamentalist that had donated the most dollars to the Imperial Presidency.

      1. And exactly how that is germane to the current discussion?


          1. I can’t imagine basing one’s entire philosophy of life around “tu quoque“.


        3. It is called comparative criticism.

          Standards change over time.

          1. The term “comparative criticism” refers to a specific school of methodology in the academic discipline of Comparative Literature.

            Not only does your use of the term not refer to what you think it means; you confuse your constant use of the tu quoque argument with sound and valid reasoning.

            You are nowhere near as intelligent or educated as you imagine yourself to be.

            1. I know what it means. I took English Lit from one of the Fugitives at Vanderbilt.

              1. So, it’s even worse that you used the term incorrectly.

                1. No, I applied the term to a different discipline.

                  See Frank Sibley (philosopher).

                  1. Of course, you did. That’s is why it took you approximately 45 minutes of research before you explained your use of the term.

          2. Translation: Because BOOOOSSSHHHH!!!! did it, it’s ok now.

            An odd position for someone who claims to not like the deprivations of the Bush Admin.

          3. The president whom you despise, among many of us here, changed the standards, and now this practice is acceptable?

        4. Because, BUSHPIG, CHRISTFAG!


      2. You really don’t appreciate how pathetic you are, do you, Buttplug Bob? If you weren’t such a disgusting creature I would even have pity for you. Unfortunately your psychological disfigurements are seemingly entirely self-inflicted and thus I can harbor for you nothing but contempt.

        1. Pity? It was pity that stayed Heroic Mulatto’s sarcastic response. Many commenters that aren’t dissed deserve getting burned. Some posters that are burned deserve respect. Can you give it to them, Nazdrakke? Do not be too eager to deal out burns in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Shreek has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over.

          1. Shreek has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over.

            You mean he might fall into a fiery pit of molten lava clutching Obama?

            1. Shh! You’re giving away the ending…

            2. “You mean he might fall into a fiery pit of molten lava clutching Obama?”

              That’s almost as good as porn right there.

            3. “Clutching”? Is that what the kids are calling it these days?

        2. Whatever you dittobecking Bushfag. Why don’t you come back and talk once you become a Master of Finance, lord of all that you survey?

          Until then, you just aren’t on Shrike’s level.

      3. Stalin’s Buttboy’s Obama Sense just tingled.

    3. Ambassadorships have always been nothing more than political kickbacks for monies donated or raised.

    4. Really should have been the MTV/reason/naked on a horse Kennedy as ambassador.

      I keep hearing all this shit about how Japan loves celebrity ambassadors, well, a VJ would be awesome for that.

      You could have “turning Japanese” played at the announcement.

  9. Science proves that the Progressive mind-set is identical to psychopathy

    And what that research has uncovered is that these people tend to be utilitarian’s in our society, okay. They tend to be people who are able to get the job done, who are less morally squeamish.

    Now I’ve actually presented a variation of this dilemma to various psychopaths. I’ll give an example of what the variation of the dilemma is. Imagine that you are a transplant surgeon. And you have five patients all in need of a transplant, heart, lungs, whatever. Okay? And they’re all gonna die if they don’t get that transplant, but there are no matching donors available.

    Just by chance, a young traveler happens to walk past your surgery one day for just a regular check-up. And it turns out, hypothetically, that he is a direct match for all five, okay.

    Now imagine that you are the transplant surgeon. Imagine if there was no come back to you, if that traveler somehow disappeared, okay. Would it be right to kill that young traveler in order to take his five organs to transplant them into your five patients?

    1. Now, most people — again it’s the five and one life score. It’s exactly like the trolley problem. But most people would say absolutely not. No, that’s just not right. It’s ethically not right to kill that person. But I’ve given this to psychopathic killers and they’ve said, well actually, you know what? Imagine if you were the families of those five guys. One life lost, is it really that bad when you’re saving five others? What if that guy was an evil terrorist? And the five guys who needed to transplants were peace workers or aid workers, for instance. Would that make it any different?

      1. Utilitarianism has always had counterintuitive results. Hypothetically one could consider a gang-rape “more” moral than vanilla rape, depending on whether the additional pain of the victim was counterbalanced with the pleasure obtained by the perpetrators.

        Of course it really doesn’t matter, since the lack of the information needed to quantify and evaluate a given situation means that utilitarians always end up being either closet deontologists (“rule-based utilitarians”) or closet virtue ethicists.

        1. Four of five participants in the gang rape agree, it’s pretty awesome!

          Isn’t democracy grand?

      2. Sort term maybe but how about long term? You have one guy with strong organs who may reproduce to make more people with strong organs versus the five people with weak organs who if they live could pass those genes on that made them susceptible to organ failure thereby weakening the human race’s gene pool.

  10. What we need is a government that will drown the 21% who trust them.

    1. I thought flood insurance was meant to accomplish that.

      1. But how many people actually drown in floods here? Speaking of floods if you haven’t seen The Impossible about the 2004 Indian tsunami it’s pretty good.

  11. Community involvement is the way to go. Just as self defense rests first and primarily with the individual and communities(not the State/LEO’s), so do civic duties , charity etc.

    As an LEO, I attend a substantial # of community meetings and average joes have great insight into how to make their neighborhoods safer, how to catch bad guys, and how to generally improve their communities through group action.

  12. Sounds like a pretty solid plan to me dude. Wow.

    1. Who the fuck are you and where is WomSom?

      1. WomSom got a new gig. He’s now buying 3 maserati’s a day.

        1. Yeah, working at home on your computer is the bee’s knees.

        2. I heard he lost his license, now he don’t drive.

          1. So he got him a limo, rides in the back, he locks the doors in case he’s attacked?

      2. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but WomSom had a serious heroin problem that made his wife leave him for another man — the wit and humanity of Reason’s commenting community was the only thing keeping him from ending it all. All those “Sounds like a pretty solid plan to me” ‘s? A last gasp at human contact; an attempt at engaging the community.

        There are only so many times you can try to reach out before giving up, and so his son MappRapp has taken over after hearing about how his father ended it all after typing his last LOL; a sad cycle of violence perpetuating itself once again.

        And before you ask, yes WomSom’s life story has already been optioned for a Lifetime TV movie.

        1. So I can get my wife to leave me if I start doing heroin? And I’ll lose weight too! Sounds like a pretty solid plan to me dude. Wow.

          1. See, this is the sort of comment that WomSom would have cherished if he were still alive.

            1. Roll that beautiful bean footage!

          2. So I can get my wife to leave me if I start doing heroin?

            Wife doing heroin? Pics or it didn’t happen, LOL.

        2. Had there only been enough government to save him!

          *Sheds single manly tear for WomSom*

      3. It’s Anon-Bot’s night off, so meet his replacement, Anon-Bot.

  13. 32 Reasons California is the Most Beautiful State in the Country.

    Beauty meaning natural beauty which not even the toxic politicians are able to ruin.

    1. None of those reasons were titties.

      1. 3334DD reasons.

    2. God damn some of the photogs decided to get heavy handed with HDR. I’ve been to surprisingly few of these, and am disappointed Death Valley didn’t get a mention.

    3. Yes, sure is beautiful. Too bad California is filled with Californians.

      1. False! Too bad CA is filled with the rejects from other states. You shake the country and all the crazy (and bad driving) falls into CA.

        1. Fair enough.

        2. Dear California,

          Please stop driving crazy residents away from your state with high taxes, cumbersome regulations, and ridiculous politics. We had a nice thing going when we could keep all of America’s crazy contained in one place — that was the deal we made when we elected Governor Reagan, remember? Now they’re coming back, and bragplaining about how much better everything was in CA — please fix your state so that the crazy doesn’t spread.

          An Arizonan

          1. Fuck that. Let’s give the Native Americans some decent land and put all the crazy on reservations with cheap liquor. It’s retarded to waste CA on former NYers who are upset that going from one side of LA to the other is so much more expensive than going from one side of Manhattan to the other even though they’re completely different sizes.

            1. Wow, that map is pretty mind blowing. I never thought of LA compared to other cities in that way.

              1. Not quite as big, but: Detroit

              2. I got into an argument with a Danish acquaintance over healthcare and he said if Denmark could do single payer we should be able to. I think he was bothered when I pointed out that LA’s population alone is approximately triple Denmark’s and and CA is 10 times larger spatially.

            2. Wouldn’t the crazies want a cheap Pius and Quinoa or something?

            3. Well, that was the original *original* plan. Oklahoma Indian Territory was to be the sight of our fruited plain’s most vast and glorious casinos, bars, and peyote dispensaries; to be encouraged by the nation’s tourism board as a place for the nation’s craziest to destroy themselves and (hopefully) do something funny on video.

              It was in the Constitution — and the Bible, before the Mormons got their hands on it.

              1. Progs won’t be happy until we all live in the population density of Hong Kong.

              2. Once Obamacare is really rolling, reservations will sport Indian hospitals, as well.

                Get your surgery there, then spend the rest of your recovery at the poker table.

            4. Houston is significantly bigger than LA.

              1. I thought everything was bigger in TX.

                1. that’s what she said?

      2. If San Francisco were to sink into the Pacific and Sacramento razed to the ground it would become a pretty great state politically.

        Yeah, there’d still be LA but it would have its power checked by San Diego, Orange County, and the rural areas.

        1. Don’t let San Francisco go without dragging Berkeley down as well, please!

  14. …,relying instead on internal legal advice (a favorite approval process of the executive branch).

    Contrary to generally low estimation of lawyers I have found that lawyers will usually give me a straightforward assessment of whether or not my complaint is actionable and economically rational. Free of charge. But if I keep dialing phone numbers and sending emails long enough I’d sure enough find one that told me what I dreamed of hearing.

  15. Affair between a zebra and a donkey results in the birth of the rare Zonkey hybrid

    1. why not a Debra?

      1. I think sire comes first, it would be a Debra were the donkey a father.

        1. gotcha

    2. A zonkey is a species of “zebroid,” which sounds like a term American would use.

  16. So is there a perfect US State to live in?
    North Dakota blows.

    1. Puerto Rico, once it attains statehood.

      1. Consider WA state

        A constitution that ismuch more restrictive on the state and law enforcement to search and seize etc. I got a metric assload of cites for it, but suffice it to say whether it’s search incident to arrest,l pretext stops, curtilate search, etc.etc. we are way more protective of actual privacy (oh, dui roadblocks unconstitutional as well)

        No income tax. Beautiful weather in the summer. Winter? meh

        Shall issue CCW and no permit required open carry.

        Some of the best self defense case law and law in the country.

        1. And federal raids of medical MJ dispensaries, so to recreational stores should be golden.

        2. Puerto Rico’s laws are mostly crap but it’s beautiful and it’s one of a few places in Latin America (or most of the world really; the US and outlying territories are special that way) where you have some gun rights.

          Also a pretty nice set of incentives that get tossed towards retirees; would have been interesting to see how far down the liberty rabbit hole PR would have gone if Luis Fortuno had stayed on as governor.

      2. Kind of like if Canada ever acquired the Turks and Caicos

        1. Yup.

    2. MI has the Red Wings, and no DUI checkpoints. Obviously plenty of other things wrong with it.

      Shall issue ccw, uncommon but legal open carry. Federal raids of legal med MJ. Constant fear of having to pay Detroit’s bills.

      1. plus you have to drive South to cross from Detroit to Windsor.

    3. If you want to be left alone…

      …Montana is awesome!

      1. I though it was filled with, or about to be filled with, Californians?

        1. Not where I live. They tend to congregate in the parts that look like California.

          And here’s the good thing. They last about 2 winters (weak constitution).

  17. My friend just texted me: free valet parking, tacos, and beer at the Kennedy book signing party. Being stuck without a car is no fun.

    1. I really need to invite myself to one of their events. HQ is just on the other side of LAX from me.

  18. Did anyone else just catch that 30-second GM commercial Brian Williams spewed out? Laffo, NBC.

    1. I’m sorry to hear you don’t have cable.

      1. At a bar killing time.

  19. OT: So the CBC just ran a program where someone said keeping cats as pets should be BANNED because they are killing all the birds.

    1. I’d like to think progs will die on this anti-cat hill, but they’ll probably all get rid of their cats and pretend they never liked them.

      I’m desperately hoping for a sign that the shrieking left is falling apart, but haven’t seen it yet. Shit, Kos will probably want to put cat owners in camps soon enough. (I don’t own cats, I make fun of people who do)

      1. one of the arguments put forth was that Cats kept our food safe, but now we have supermarkets for that.
        PROGS HATE SUPERMARKETS and perfer Farmer’s Markets. Farms are where we need cats to protect food.

  20. RUSH joined by TPB last week.

    1. Needs more liquor and whores.

      we’re gonna get booted out of here

  21. Now THIS (thanks sloopy) seems like a good double standard case. NO jail time for going 104 mph (even on the freeway that’s hella fast) without lights and siren and without being dispatched to an emergency call and hitting somebody and killing them…..fatally-ra

    Booya black boxes. They MAY invade your privacy, if how fast you were going, pedal position etc. is something you want to keep secret, dont buy a modern car because we can get that info from your black box

  22. That sounds kinda crazy to me dude. Wow

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