We should just dismantle the government.
By almost every conceivable measure Americans are less positive and more critical of government these days. A new Pew Research Center survey finds a perfect storm of conditions associated with distrust of government -- a dismal economy, an unhappy public, bitter partisan-based backlash, and epic discontent with Congress and elected officials.
Rather than an activist government to deal with the nation's top problems, the public now wants government reformed and growing numbers want its power curtailed. With the exception of greater regulation of major financial institutions, there is less of an appetite for government solutions to the nation's problems -- including more government control over the economy -- than there was when Barack Obama first took office.
But this really begs another question:
If we don't want civil servants to address our top problems, then who do we want to provide these same services and information that we rely upon for the effective functioning of society?
Which sector do we trust more?
Private sector? We might be able to trust the ability to deliver on performance elements, but have profit-driven companies really captured the public's imagination as the entities we'd want to be responsible for the common good?
Non-profit sector? These organizations have a similar mindset and mission to government, oriented toward public service, but how long would we wait and at what cost to transfer resources from one sector to another?
Academia? Tremendous research, development and innovation comes from our nation's academic institutions, but isn't it a stretch to think that they are equipped to manage the broader operations and infrastructure now handled by government?
To be fair, the Pew report does indicate that
the public also expresses discontent with many of the country's other major institutions. Just 25% say the federal government has a positive effect on the way things are going in the country and about as many (24%) say the same about Congress. Yet the ratings are just as low for the impact of large corporations (25% positive) and banks and other financial institutions (22%). And the marks are only slightly more positive for the national news media (31%), labor unions (32%) and the entertainment industry (33%).
The report goes on to say that people who are upset with government are typically angry at other societal institutions.
So maybe people just like to complain.
But I'd like to hear these same survey respondents answer this question:
If not government, then who?