A Culture of Distrust? According to PEW Research the percentage of Americans who say they trust the government to do the right thing on their behalf has fallen from 73 percent in 1958 to just 19 percent in 2013. What was going on in 1958? For one thing, veterans were still qualifying for federal subsidies for their education as well as in purchasing a first home. Social Security provided a rock solid safety net for older citizens. Manufacturing was booming. People tended to work for the same company for many years, earning pensions that could be counted on in the process. Politics was most likely no more driven by altruism than it is today, but the American infrastructure was fundamentally firm and resilient. This was a culture in which it may have been easier to trust, both in terms of personal relationships and the perception of the role of government.
A lot has changed since 1958. The above survey tends to confirm a belief that our culture as a whole appears to have become more cynical, skeptical, and distrustful, perhaps because of these changes. Job security and defined pensions, for example, are increasingly rare. And there is frequent talk in...
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