Monday, April 19, 2010

By The Numbers

There's a semi-interesting article in the Los Angeles Times this morning. I say only semi-interesting because the article states the obvious: Americans are unhappy and disgusted with their federal government. They also distrust it. It doesn't take a Pew Research Center poll to discern that, although the numbers are always kind of interesting, especially when compared to earlier polls.

Only 22% of all Americans surveyed said they trusted the government in Washington almost always or most of the time -- among the lowest measures in half a century -- according to a Pew Research Center survey released Sunday night.

The results point to "a perfect storm" of public unrest, Pew reports, "a dismal economy, an unhappy public, bitter, partisan-based backlash and epic discontent with Congress and elected officials."


About 25% of those surveyed said the federal government had a positive effect on the state of the nation; 25% said this about large corporations. Only 22% said banks had a positive effect, and 31% said the same about the news media.

Interest in government regulation has declined, with one exception, Pew says: "A clear majority [61%] says it is a good idea for the government to more strictly regulate the way major financial companies do business, which is virtually unchanged from last April [60%]."

The article makes it clear that it isn't just Democrats that ought to be nervous about these findings. Republican incumbents are just as likely to feel the wrath of the voting public come November, and that's as it should be. After all, the things that have me cranky about the government either started during the last administration when Republicans for the most part ruled the roost or were dramatically encouraged by the knaves: the housing bubble, the collapse of the economy with the loss of jobs here, the trashing of constitutionally guaranteed freedoms (especially with respect to domestic spying), the initiation of two wars, neither of which could be justified in any rational way, the backing away from international agreements with respect to torture, the unlawful detention of people in black prisons and in Guantanamo Bay. That's just my list this morning before the coffee kicks in. I would imagine that everyone could compile a similar list.

Barack Obama and the Democrats were swept into office by the anger and disgust that people finally admitted to because there were certain promises made. Yet, here we are, nearly two years later, and not much has changed. Oh, we got some healthcare reform, but the bill we got was, for the most part, written by and for the health insurance industry and the pharmaceutical companies. People still aren't back to work, primarily because the financial companies who caused the housing bubble and its collapse, and who were bailed out with federal funds, still aren't extending credit to companies who employ people. Those companies have returned to profitability, their executives are still getting bonuses, but the unemployed list continues to grow.

We're still engaged in those two stupid wars, soldiers are still dying, and we're still spending billions of dollars on them. The intelligence agencies are still reading our emails and listening in on our phone calls. Guantanamo Bay is still open, and the current administration has extended the shelf life of unlimited detention and even targeted killing of those suspected of wanting to harm the US.

Yes, most of us are distrustful of the role federal government is playing in our lives. We didn't need a poll to tell us that, at least that kind of poll. The one that is going to be really interesting to see is the one that is taken in November.



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