What Does "Distrust of Government" Really Mean?

By:  Bruce Walker
10/27/2011
       
What Does "Distrust of Government" Really Mean?

The New York Times and CBS has come out with a new poll that shows Americans have a strong mistrust of government. Almost 90% of Americans do not trust government to do the right thing and almost three quarters say that they believe the nation is on the wrong track. As the poll probes deeper into what Americans believe the government ought to do, partisan differences appear. Nearly 9 out of 10 Democrats believe that the distribution of wealth in the country should be fairer, while 2 out of three independents agree with that, though only 1 out of 3 Republicans believe that to be true. This poll also showed that a significant percentage of Americans support the “Occupy Wall Street” movement while a much smaller percentage support the Tea Party Movement.

Gallup has come out with a poll this September that may narrow down discontent with government more. The overwhelming majority of Americans, 2 out of 3, have a “great deal” or a “fair amount” of confidence in local government — a percentage that has remained very stable over the last fifteen years. A clear majority of Americans, 57%, feel the same way about state government, although that confidence did nosedive in 2009. Faith in the federal government, by contrast, is very low.

Another September Gallup Poll sheds light on part of the reason for the low confidence in the federal government. Since 1979 Gallup has asked respondents “Of every tax dollar that goes to the federal government in Washington, D.C., how many cents of each dollar would you say were wasted?”

The New York Times and CBS has come out with a new poll that shows Americans have a strong mistrust of government. Almost 90% of Americans do not trust government to do the right thing and almost three quarters say that they believe the nation is on the wrong track. As the poll probes deeper into what Americans believe the government ought to do, partisan differences appear. Nearly 9 out of 10 Democrats believe that the distribution of wealth in the country should be fairer, while 2 out of three independents agree with that, though only 1 out of 3 Republicans believe that to be true. This poll also showed that a significant percentage of Americans support the “Occupy Wall Street” movement while a much smaller percentage support the Tea Party Movement.

Gallup has come out with a poll this September that may narrow down discontent with government more. The overwhelming majority of Americans, 2 out of 3, have a “great deal” or a “fair amount” of confidence in local government — a percentage that has remained very stable over the last fifteen years. A clear majority of Americans, 57%, feel the same way about state government, although that confidence did nosedive in 2009. Faith in the federal government, by contrast, is very low.

Another September Gallup Poll sheds light on part of the reason for the low confidence in the federal government. Since 1979 Gallup has asked respondents “Of every tax dollar that goes to the federal government in Washington, D.C., how many cents of each dollar would you say were wasted?”

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Photo: The granddaddy of all wasteful federal programs: A 1937 WPA Project plaque.

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