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Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Trust Factor

According to a recent AP-GFK poll two- thirds of Americans don’t trust each other anymore. That’s beyond the natural level of mistrust in government, Wall Street and insurance companies. In the 1960s,73% of Americans trusted government to get things right,today only 19% trust the government to get anything right.

The level of mistrust leads to gated communities, gun sales, protests, long-winded contracts and 2000 pages of legislation.

 A good example of mistrust is President Obama’s  “honest and trustworthy” poll number. More Americans don’t believe he’s trustworthy and I don’t blame them, given the media’s attention to charges that have never been substantiated. Another good example of that comes from a 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush who has always operated above partisan fray. Last week the State Dept. merged the Vatican facility with the larger Embassy in Italy. As expected, the right wing media went nuts saying that Obama was closing the Vatican facility. Jeb Bush responded with a tweet saying, “ Why would our President close our Embassy to the Vatican? Hopefully, it is not retribution for Catholic organizations opposing Obamacare.” The Jeb Bush staff would normally make a couple of calls before embarrassing themselves but the tweet did give Bush some tea party credibility.

It’s going to take the younger people to turnaround the level of mistrust and they will do it with technology. New norms will have to be reestablished using new metrics to reflect the current population. For example ,we now know what the numbers will look like for corporations if they raise the minimum wage; we no longer have to take their word for it. A good example is the largest retail corporation, Wal-Mart’s paying practices. How can people be upset over people being on the government dole and not be equally upset that their tax money is being used to subsidize the health care of Wal-Mart’s employees?Now that's classic 'redistribution of wealth.'

I often hear Rep. Paul Ryan say that we shouldn’t be creating a climate of government dependency but he continues to vote for tax incentives for oil companies.

The other day, I heard a discussion as to whether the Affordable Care Act would have to establish death panels in order to get the cost curve down. The dissenters were referring to the advisory panel but couldn’t call it that because it might give the panel some legitimacy. Insurance companies make life or death decisions everyday. The argument then becomes “do you want a government bureaucrat to pull the plug on granny?” It’s not as if a three star general roaming the halls of the White House or a golfing buddy of Obama will sit on the panel. It’s going to be human beings making that choice, whether it is a selective panel or several insurance companies.  

I remember an old blogger named “thewaywardwind” asking me to explain something that I had written in a blog without inserting my usual political spin. The colorful blogger wanted me to write something he could believe because he didn’t trust my version of the facts. I told him that he was perfectly capable of writing a blog that supported his beliefs. We eventually established boundaries because after many discussions, we understood where we came from. A continuing dialogue will eventfully lead to understanding and from there we will get closer to trust.

We can’t expect everyone to accept the views we had about race, culture, ideology or religion that we had in the 1950s because the demographics have changed. The 1970s were a prosperous time but many were benefiting from the G.I. bill, strong unions, good pay/ benefits and affordable education. Today we are a war weary nation coping with a high level of income inequality, which leads to mistrust.

We need to get our nation back to work so the conversation switches to the positives that are achievable. The employed people will find a way to form a community organization to help others and eventually trust will reemerge.


Mike said...

Fox News Sunday doesn't even try to get the trust of someone like me. Brit Hume is 70 years old (on Medicare)and gets his lucatrive supplement from Fox but he was telling of his experience in signing up on the exchanges....Chris Wallace repeatlly tried to equate the individual market with the unaffected 80% of the market....George Will put it in perspective by saying that 100 million are on a government run Heath system and 171 million get their health care through a company sponsored one but he couldn't leave it at that...He said companies were going to dump their employees into Medicare and Medicaide but there is no evidence of that.

Edith Ann said...

You are more optimistic than I am. For no other reason than "I heard it on FOX" (truth or not) I don't hold out much hope for a great deal of dialogue that fosters trust. All FOX has to do is say something out loud and certain folks are all over it like a cheap suit! Remember, these are the folks who can't be bothered with facts. But I hope you are right, and that it is sooner rather than later.

Mike said...

For the most part, I separate Hannity, Fox and Friends, and Bill O’Reilly from Fox News Sunday.
I never said I was optimistic, but I was disappointed that they didn’t come out with a better argument. Chris said "isn’t it a fact that if young people don’t sign up in huge numbers, the cost of health-care premiums will go up." That’s elementary math using a pessimistic formula. The young people they’re talking about can be 34 years old, and they make up 5% of the market (15 million), and the $95 penalty in the first year won’t be much of a deterrent for purchasing health care. context is everything.

People on the other side won’t believe anything they see or hear on MSNBC, and that’s unfortunate because as long as one knows the facts, the source is immaterial.

I don’t even like CNN because they try their darnedest to stay in the mushy middle. I do have to give Chris Cuomo of CNN his kudos because he hit Ted Cruz right between the eyes when he told the senator “you don’t think you have a responsibility as a U.S. senator to do better than that in terms of offering a solution for what to do next?”

BIGJ said...

People don't trust each other. Americans hates each other.

Mike said...

Hate is a strong word .

BIGJ said...


Too strong?? I mean look at the comment section on VicAd, Youtube, Facebook, and other places.