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  • Trust

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on October 10th, 2015 (All posts by )

    A society as huge and complex as the United States can run economically only on the basis of acceptance and trust. This has been true for so long it is no longer noticed, like the air. People accept the rules and generally follow them whether or not there is a policeman in attendance. …. All over the the land people go about their business secure that arrangements will be honored and carried out. A high-trust society is a low-cost society.

    Wretchard, at the Belmont Club

    Of all that has changed over the last decade in the general culture of the United States, I wonder if a widespread loss of trust in the political, media, intellectual and bureaucratic establishments is the most quietly catastrophic of all the damage done to our society of late. It is axiomatic that once trust in an individual, a friend or a spouse is lost, it can almost never be regained; one of those things which is easily, almost casually done, never to be completely repaired. I suspect that we will discover over the next few decades that the thinking and observing portion of our society will never regain that unthinking trust in our institutions, now that we have seen them become weaponized in open and politically partisan ways. We have observed the national news media become politically partisan, more intent on hiding matters of significance than informing the public about them. What doesn’t appear above the fold, so to speak, or even in the back pages is sometimes more revealing. And the hate for ordinary American citizens in flyover country, frequently expressed by those residents of the wealthy bicoastal enclaves has been mind-boggling. There are personalities who have been so casually offensive in this regard that I have made it a point to avoid patronizing with my pocketbook anything that they have had anything to do with. I suspect that I am not alone in this – it’s another element of that ‘cold anger’ that I wrote about some days ago. How has it come to be that the so-called ruling elite of a nation now appear to hold their fellow-citizens in such deep contempt? (This contempt has begun to be returned with interest of late, although the ruling elites are predictably mystified by such quiet demonstrations as in the Chick-Fil-A appreciation day, the failure of certain lavishly promoted moves and TV shows, and heavily attended Tea Party rallies of a few years ago.)

    My daughter has been watching old television series, on streaming video as she worked on various artistic projects for the upcoming Christmas bazaar season. This week’s choice was McGyver; over walking the doggles one morning she commented that two things about the show slightly boggled her mind; that the character didn’t have the internet (she kept thinking ‘Why didn’t he just google … oh. Never mind’) but the most striking feature was that government agencies like the EPA were seen as as benign, even competent and worthwhile. I did explain to her, how it used to be – how the EPA once did good work, or at least in the eyes of the general public, used to do good work. Other governmental agencies also used to be seen as the good guys … but not any more. Interfering, partisan, abusive busybodies, without much of a mission left, but more passionate and bullying in wielding authority of the crushing sort. When federal regulatory agencies established in-house SWAT teams on their table of organization marked the change from benign to malign.

    One of the points that Wretchard makes in the essay linked above is that the low-trust state is fearfully inefficient, frequently corrupt and usually poor; energy that might be turned towards innovation, creation, building – is instead wasted, when a proportion of its’ subjects become enforcers, tirelessly surveilling, documenting, prosecuting and punishing the rest – who as a result spend their own creative energies into twisting, turning, evading and escaping that control. When nothing larger than a toy train layout in the basement can be done without a bribe or the influence of someone within the governing system, innovations and businesses are held down to being marginal, or illicit, and usually both. The nation keeps two sets of books, essentially; the official set and the black market set. Progress dies, strangled at birth, so to speak. Nothing moves, unless the State allows – because unapproved change will upset the comfortable establishment; that just can’t be permitted.

    Obama is the man who promised that “…we are going to fundamentally transform America.” That certainly seems to have been accomplished. We still have some space for ourselves, of course. The shelves in the grocery store are still full, gas in Texas is at and around $2.00, Christmas and the local bazaar events are around the corner, our hens are laying, and the pantry is full, so there is cause for optimism.
    But not much. Discuss.

    (Crossposted at www.ncobrief.com)

     

    18 Responses to “Trust”

    1. Jim Says:

      Yes, the United States was once described as a high-trust society but such a description no longer fits. We have become a low-trust society. As mass immigration brings more and more people to the US with great differences from the traditional American population the level of distrust and hostility will steadily increase. Eventually the US is likely to disintegrate or will require more and more force to be held together.

    2. David Foster Says:

      Sadly, it is not just the “elite” or the bicoastal residents who feel contempt for the majority of their fellow citizens. I have frequently observed these feelings expressed by people who I am pretty sure (and in some cases, know for certain) are neither members of any kind of elite nor residents on the coasts.

    3. Sgt. Mom Says:

      David, I was inexpressibly saddened a couple of years ago, by one of my brothers remarking casually, “Hey, sis, I know you are one of those Tea Party freaks, but I love you anyway.”
      No words for that, actually.
      Another reason for me to despise the national media organs. The Tea Party as I experienced it was a group of intelligent, concerned and well-informed citizen grass-roots activists. And for all that – we get slimed as racist and dumber-than-dirt freaks? Yeah, my animus towards Anderson Cooper and his mainstream national media ilk burns with the heat of a thousand suns.

    4. newrouter Says:

      “that the so-called ruling elite”

      the “ruining class” better encapsulates these clowns. john ‘effin’ kerry is a proud member of this “highly credentialed” class of echo chamber morons.

    5. Mike K Says:

      There was a short discussion of this subject at Patterico where one commenter who is left of center said:

      It’s a bit counterintuitive to drive the people whose ideas you find dangerous away from the people with the opportunity and the ability to persuade them to change those views. The goal is discourse. People on this site have convinced me to reconsider my positions on a number of occasions and a number of issues. I think, without knowing, that I have given a few people on this site reason to reconsider their owns positions as well.

      This is a law student, now a lawyer I think, who has been commenting there for years. He is not the problem. There are plenty of hostile types out there and, interestingly enough, Ben Carson seems to be drawing them out.

      He is a pretty benign guy compared to Trump or Cruz, but he seems to drive the left bonkers the way Clarence Thomas did and he has handled it beautifully

    6. Ginny Says:

      I suspect the knives are sharpening for Fiorina – but her response is likely to be more icy than warm. Both have the ironic perspective of people who have been through enough and suffered enough and succeeded enough. That’s helped them swim against the stream.

      Much trust has been lost – but it still seems to me that in fly-over country some remains. The founders knew the chances when they said we’d have a democracy if we could keep it and that morality and virtue were important if a government by citizens were to survive. There were dishonest people (and, well, dishonest dealings by generally honest people) in 1650 and 1750 and 1850 and 1950 – but one begins to suspect more and more people will be shading the truth, a bit less honest in their dealings by 2050. We moved from tribalism with the hard work of objective rule of law and a trust society. Obama has led – but not well. And when Hillary’s fans say her strength is she had the guts not to follow laws, despair may be in order. Of course, it is beginning to look like even the democrats aren’t buying that.

    7. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      …the “ruining class” better encapsulates these clowns. john ‘effin’ kerry is a proud member of this “highly credentialed” class of echo chamber morons.

      Thirty or forty years ago we mocked 18th century European aristocrats. Now they’re running our country. He reminds me of some French aristocrat doddering about from one catastrophe to the next.

      the low-trust state is fearfully inefficient, frequently corrupt and usually poor; energy that might be turned towards innovation, creation, building – is instead wasted, when a proportion of its’ subjects become enforcers, tirelessly surveilling, documenting, prosecuting and punishing the rest – who as a result spend their own creative energies into twisting, turning, evading and escaping that control.

      Hayek describes this exactly in TRTS. I assume he observed it in socialist/fascist Europe in the 1930’s. Now it has come to the USA. Everything following in that paragraph could have described any of the East Bloc countries or the USSR. Think how astounding that is. Really, think about that.

    8. Mike K Says:

      One difference is that we have guns. A lot of guns. Charles Murray has has some ideas on what to do.

      “Liberty without permission? Selective civil disobedience? I’m in! At first I balked, but Murray makes a convincing case that a Madison Fund might scrape away the sclerosis of the suffocating state. As usual, his original arguments expand the way I think. When law is so complex that it’s indistinguishable from lawlessness, when the tax code is 4 million words long, something like systematic disobedience is badly needed.” –John Stossel

      And:

      “We are at the end of the American project as the founders intended it.” Secondly, “Opportunities are opening for preserving the best qualities of the American project in a new incarnation.” The author clarifies that “American project” refers to our country’s experiment with minimal government interference. Dr. Murray makes it clear that the book is based on the assumption that limited government is best.

      I haven’t finished it but agree so far.

      Remember the Bundy standoff. It may not be the last.

    9. Jim Says:

      To Ginny – The Franklin quote was “A republic, if you can keep it”. We haven’t kept it.

    10. TMLutas Says:

      The ruining class (I love that turn of phrase and will shamelessly steal it going forward) are not willing to openly state their contempt for the idea that “here the people rule” and this can be their downfall.

      Internally, all government units have their own management metrics to determine success and failure. All that need change is for those metrics and their current and historical values to start being published and trust in the good guys will be re-established and the bad guys will simply not survive the fallout. The requirement can be enforced by a department death penalty for departments that makes it out of order to consider any bill that funds them prior to their compliance. A similar departmental death penalty should apply for those departments who employ someone with an active contempt of Congress determination.

      That the executive shall not behave in contempt of Congress and the people have access to the management metrics used to determine success in government seems like a small thing but even with the inevitable national security carve outs and the anonymizing so that personal data is kept confidential, these two measures would vastly improve the way we do government in this country.

    11. Mike K Says:

      There is more bad news for the Obamacare supporters.

      The NHS is running out of “other people’s money” and a crisis is brewing. Some of this is related to my post The Update on the Doctor Shortage, as the loss of young doctors seems to be driving this.

      Regulators said an “over-reliance” on agency nurses and doctors to plug shortages of staff was fuelling the growing debt, which is forecast to reach a record high.
      The official reports also show NHS trusts are missing key waiting time targets, including cancer and Accident and Emergency patients.
      In total, 29,000 patients waited on a trolley for more than four hours at foundation trusts – a rise of one third in a year.

      “Agency nurses and doctors” are what we call “temps” or “registry nurses” in our system. They are professionals that work for temp agencies and the agency charges a premium for their services. I get solicited all the time for this sort of short term jobs. Single payer of the Bernie Sanders version would massively worsen this problem. Doctors will retire in droves.

      Nobody trusts this government or its agencies to be hones or fair. The VA is still trying to hire people. I see the notices for positions in every hospital.

    12. Veritas Says:

      How does one trust a society that uses affirmative action to promote the useless, lazy, untalented, and uneducated while protraying merit and excellence as a joke? How can one trust a system where courts act as the supreme law of the land regardless of the law? How can one expect trust where a collaborator and deserter goes unpunished while a decorated soldier who protected a child from a pedophile is drummed out of the service?

      How does one trust a president who smears the average aMERICAN AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY AND USES THE FULL WEIGHT OF THE GOVERNMENT TO CRUSH THOSE OPPOSED TO HIS AGENDA?

      How does one trust a system that protects those who do not build or create but serve only to inhibit those who build, innovate and produce? What are we to think of a society that attacks what our forefathers created and celebrates those that plumbs the depths of depravity, sin, and excess in the name of personal fulfillment?

      Trust? In what?

    13. Veryretired Says:

      You touched on a crucial aspect of this question, but brushed past it.

      Trust, as with so many other valuable social bonds, must go both ways.

      The true disaster of having a ruling class that has learned its political and economic viewpoint from pseudo-aristocrats in Europe is the end of the vitally necessary trust that democratic leaders must have in their fellow citizens.

      It isn’t only the common citizen who has lost any trust and confidence in the ruling class, it is the ruling elites who can no longer hide, or even attempt to disguise, their utter contempt for any ordinary person who isn’t an anointed member of the inner circle.

      Recall for a moment the videos of Prof. Gruber discussing the big health insurance scam with groups he understood to be “with it” in terms of their shared disdain for any in the electorate who actually believed any of the phony pitch used to justify the health care scheme.

      Everyone focussed on the crass lying and endless deceit in the writing, passing, and implementation of the program, and rightfully so, but what the tapes also showed in painful close-up was the utter contempt that this member of the “credentialed” elite felt for ordinary citizens, and, further, that he obviously assumed his audiences shared that contempt, and would approve of his machinations.

      Lord Acton’s rule about the corrupting tendencies of power include this fundamental danger. An elite whose primary claim to power is a combination of credentialed membership and proper ideological belief is quick to insulate itself from any negative consequences for incompetence. Such invulnerability to public censure for their continuous folly has an inevitable, poisonous side-effect.

      The sense of being above generates a profound contempt and disdain for those who exist below. It is a self-defensive rationalization, seen repeatedly in aristocratic societies, and most starkly in slave holding, and therefore slave dependent, cultures such as the pre-Civil War south.

      It is no accident that the complicit msm, then, carefully avoided any serious coverage of the good professor, as they have joint membership in the elite, and move quickly to protect it from any possible public outcry. The recent invisible scandal regarding Planned Parenthood, or the refusal to investigate, in any serious manner, the unsecured email system of Frau Clinton are other examples.

      When trust collapses, it goes both ways, and, most likely, starts with the elites’ deciding the citizenry is no longer responsible or competent to have its beliefs respected, but must be deceived and tricked into following the plans the elite has decided upon for the country’s future.

      In the current case, not only to the ruling elites consist of incompetents and corrupt petty criminals grubbing endlessly for power and money, they are also frankly antagonistic towards the very society they claim the right to rule.

      It is painfully obvious to any but the most self-deluded members of the elite class, or those who pretend to it, that such a suicidal arrangement cannot go on for any extended period.

      Either the culture collapses, or the elites are overthrown and discredited, or both.

      As a wise man once said, ” a house divided against itself cannot stand”.

    14. dies irae Says:

      The American economy before FDR ran on free markets and trust/ honor/ honesty/ dreams /hope and the rule of law.

      Now we are switching to a socialist economy. A socialist economy runs on lawlessness, suspicion, distrust, lies, fear and greed. It is a police state. Socialism cannot exist without coercion.

      Obama is completing our fundamental change. History will call him Papa Doc.

    15. Mike K Says:

      ” the elites’ deciding the citizenry is no longer responsible or competent to have its beliefs respected, but must be deceived and tricked into following the plans the elite has decided upon for the country’s future.”

      This is a serious problem right now. Market systems cannot run in a society that does not have trust. A good market option exists for health care that would allow some “safety net” for those not responsible or not smart enough to deal with a pure market system. I have previously recommended the French system as a sort of hybrid system that allows both a market mechanism and a safety net.

      Without some level of trust, nothing will work. “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us” will be the result.

      I am keeping my guns and have ammunition. I hope I don’t need them.

    16. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Sadly, it is not just the “elite” or the bicoastal residents who feel contempt for the majority of their fellow citizens. I have frequently observed these feelings expressed by people who I am pretty sure (and in some cases, know for certain) are neither members of any kind of elite nor residents on the coasts.

      I think I can explain that. Once upon a time, when the government’s shadow was small in our lives, people could have wildly different idea of how to live and that had little or no effect on how you lived. Now, these people use the government to enforce their vision on everyone. That is the source of all the acrimony of those forced, and the source of the contempt in the enforcers. The freedom to live and decide as a person sees fit allows everyone to live together more happily.

    17. Sgt. Mom Says:

      “It isn’t only the common citizen who has lost any trust and confidence in the ruling class, it is the ruling elites who can no longer hide, or even attempt to disguise, their utter contempt for any ordinary person who isn’t an anointed member of the inner circle.”

      Yup. The open and naked contempt for ordinary Americans on the part of the Ruling Class is getting harder and harder to stomach. I looked at how the Tea Partiers have been treated by the elites and their sycophants in the media and entertainment world – nice, ordinary, earnest and hard-working Americans, exercising their political rights – and it’s getting easier and easier for me to consider tumbrils and lampposts.

    18. Veryretired Says:

      It was not only contempt, although that is certainly present in the media and combined government party’s reaction to the Tea Party movement.

      The reaction is primarily fueled by an abiding fear that such an awakening could disrupt the corrupt agreement the elite groups have made to scratch each others’ back, and keep the scam going to milk as much graft as they can from the nation’s wealth.

      I remember a psychology class from college in which one of the big points was that intense fear of another person or group results in an accompanying feeling of deep hatred for those who cause such a painful emotion.

      One of the fundamental errors that so many people who defend freedom by opposing the growth of the state make is not realizing how deeply feared a non-coercive society is by those who pretend to have the right to rule over others. Absent the right of the state to coerce behavior they approve of, and prevent, or at least inhibit, behaviors of which they disapprove, the lurking fear of all collectivists is that most people will simply ignore them.

      What good are all their credentials if nobody cares what they think anyway?

      Who would consider the opinions of such incompetents as the leaders of the ruling elites have proven themselves to be if they could not mandate compliance by law?

      As an example, the current leader for the progressive party’s nomination repeatedly claims ignorance an excuse regarding her use of an unsecured email system for critical state department correspondence. And yet, in the next breath, she will claim the right to legislate complex rules for any number of highly technical industries, without any qualms about the fact that she and her cohorts could not begin to explain how any of these endeavors might actually work.

      As I have said many times, few of our illustrious ruling class could successfully manage the afternoon shift at any fast food franchise, yet they claim the right to micro-manage the most complex economic and technological global society in human history.

      Is it any wonder, then, that they react with such fear driven hatred for those who dare to state that their power is illegitimate, their positions of influence unearned, and their claims of lofty superiority disproven by the constant failures of their programs and policies?

      The claim of individual rights and sovereignty is the only true revolutionary movement in history, and the direst threat to anyone whose entire personality and social identity is built on their claim to aristocratic status, however defined.