Most Encouraging Thing I’ve Seen in a Week

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Running tally from the Pew Research Center’s “Trust in Government” poll:

Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark

22 Responses to “Most Encouraging Thing I’ve Seen in a Week”

  1. #1 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Trendline is good, but still WAY too high.

    0.0001 is too high, btw.

  2. #2 |  ZappaCrappa | 

    White House Statement: Radley Balko is a known subversive who we have been monitoring for months. Graph displayed on his site under the heading “Most Encouraging Thing I’ve Seen in a Week” is intentionally improperly displayed in an upside down position to weaken this administration’s popularity standing.

  3. #3 |  MikeL | 

    I’m pretty sure that posting that graph is seditious.

  4. #4 |  random guy | 

    anyone else worried a certain personality type will see this and think “we need another 9/11″?

  5. #5 |  RM | 

    @random guy

    No, not really.

  6. #6 |  Adam | 

    If you’re encouraged by that poll, you shouldn’t be.

    http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/shleifer/files/NBER_Regulation%20and%20Distrust.pdf

  7. #7 |  Dave Krueger | 

    It’s nice to know that people don’t trust the government they keep reelecting. That’s like not trusting your car because it keeps getting into accidents.

  8. #8 |  Elliot | 

    Bad analogy, Dave. If a car has a design flaw, it’s the fault of the engineers. If high speed, drunkenness, or other such driver activity result in a crash, it’s the driver’s fault. Never is it the fault of the car, which has no rational mind. (Fancy electronics which implement safeguards don’t count. And, Knight Rider isn’t real.)

    Politicians are not under voter control. Sure, they pander to voters, until they are elected. Then, they can break all their promises and do what they want, within some increasingly lax limitations.

  9. #9 |  Elliot | 

    Random guy, I think that’s a very far-fetched scenario in this day and age of technology.

    However, it has happened a number of times throughout history (like the Reichstag Fire), so it isn’t totally out of the realm of possibilities that someone might be stupid enough to try it. Hopefully not.

  10. #10 |  MacGregory | 

    #7 Ok Krueger, you know as well as I do that if all cars were factory equipped with breathalizers, there would be no more traffic accidents.

    My cousin told me this sports analogy a long time ago. If you’re a high school football coach and you have 20 guys go out for the team. Of those 20 you have to pick 11 starters, that’s a hell of difference from the coach in the neighboring town who has 75 to choose from. The two party system in this country has done a hell of job protecting itself with ballot access legislation.

  11. #11 |  Price | 

    Wow. Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton were the only ones with improved scores AFTER being elected…

  12. #12 |  Christopher Monnier | 

    The problem is that “distrust of government” does not necessarily translate to “reduce the size and scope of government.” See this: http://www.willwilkinson.net/flybottle/2010/04/19/trust-elites-and-public-choice/

  13. #13 |  Mo | 

    When you overlay unemployment rate over the graph and look at the major events you see that the “mistrust” in government is because the job market sucks or the government fucked up a war/national disaster.

    What I don’t get is how the biggest intel failure in the history of the US (9/11) led to increased trust in the government. How does that logic go, “Thanks for dropping the ball, now I trust you more!”

    Also, I find it interesting that contrary to their stated rhetoric, on average Republicans trust the government a lot more. Both parties trust the government more when they’re in charge, but Reps get a lot more enthusiastic when they have the ball. Explains why they take to the streets every time they’re no longer in charge.

  14. #14 |  Sean L. | 

    Mo: “How does that logic go…”

    That’s the point — it’s not logic. It’s emotion. Only on emotion would trust ebb and flow depending on individual events. Why did overall trust drop just because Republicans were looking to impeach Clinton? As if that had anything to do with the hundreds of thousands of other blood-sucking vermin looking to ruin our lives in the name of ‘the government.’

  15. #15 |  claude | 

    “The two party system in this country has done a hell of job protecting itself with ballot access legislation.”

    Its really just one party…with 2 different color shirts.

  16. #16 |  R. Pointer | 

    Mr. Balko,

    I think that poll should actually make you fear. First, although it is declining during the Johnson administration, it is much higher than the economic doldrums of the late 1970s and early 1980s. That says to me that people are perfectly willing to have thousands of Americans slaughtered as long as the economy is pumping along. Moreover, the spikes in 1991 and 2001 are periods of war and rabid nationalism.

    In fact the nadir we are in now is only attributable to the fact that people are fucking broke (except if you have a government tit). This poll suggests that we are F******.

  17. #17 |  sux2bme | 

    Whats wrong with the 20%?

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_CfxSWwq8cVo/S8ybVuSLfaI/AAAAAAAABXE/P7rW91Pb0l0/s1600/Pew+-+Something+Stinks.jpg

  18. #18 |  A Distinction | The Agitator | 

    [...] That Pew poll is also a pretty good indication that the more government tries to do, the more poorly it does it. The federal government certainly didn’t shrink over the period the trust-in-government trend line has taken a nosedive. Note too that during the Clinton administration, federal spending actually shrank as a percentage of GDP, and the federal workforce shrank by nearly 400,000, leaving it at its lowest level since 1960. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s one period in the last 50 years over which trust in the federal government took a sharp climb. [...]

  19. #19 |  On Rooting for Government To Fail - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine | 

    [...] That Pew poll is also a pretty good indication that the more government tries to do, the more poorly it does it. Your usual caveats about correlation and causation apply, but the federal government certainly didn’t shrink over the period the trust-in-government trend line has taken a nosedive. Note too that during the Clinton administration, federal spending actually shrank as a percentage of GDP, and the federal workforce shrank by nearly 400,000, leaving it at its lowest level since 1960. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s one period in the last 50 years over which trust in the federal government took a sharp climb. [...]

  20. #20 |  Amen « Incessant Dissent | 

    [...] That Pew poll is also a pretty good indication that the more government tries to do, the more poorly it does it. Your usual caveats about correlation and causation apply, but the federal government certainly didn’t shrink over the period the trust-in-government trend line has taken a nosedive. Note too that during the Clinton administration, federal spending actually shrank as a percentage of GDP, and the federal workforce shrank by nearly 400,000, leaving it at its lowest level since 1960. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s one period in the last 50 years over which trust in the federal government took a sharp climb. [...]

  21. #21 |  Libertarian Beliefs and Expectations » FREE WHITEWATER | 

    [...] That Pew poll is also a pretty good indication that the more government tries to do, the more poorly it does it. Your usual caveats about correlation and causation apply, but the federal government certainly didn’t shrink over the period the trust-in-government trend line has taken a nosedive. Note too that during the Clinton administration, federal spending actually shrank as a percentage of GDP, and the federal workforce shrank by nearly 400,000, leaving it at its lowest level since 1960. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s one period in the last 50 years over which trust in the federal government took a sharp climb. [...]

  22. #22 |  Picador | 

    My only real take-away from this graph is that charismatic presidents make an immense difference to people’s trust in government.

    Look at the upward trends: Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton.
    Downward trends: Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Bush I.

    Bush II and Obama are weird cases, I think — both charismatic guys, but in office as the country finished its rebound from post-WWII prosperity and opportunity to return to Gilded Age levels of imperialism and inequality. I guess beyond some point of immiseration, the provision of circuses alone (without bread) stops working on the masses.

Leave a Reply