Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 22, 2010
POLITICS: Who Do You Trust?

New annual poll from Gallup on who America's most trusted institutions are - and it's almost entirely bad news for the Left.

Topping the list? Five institutions consistently targeted and mistrusted by the Left: (1) the military (trusted by 76%), (2) small business (66%, the only other institution over 60), (3) the police, (4) church/organized religion, and (5) the medical system. The bottom? Congress (11% - "half of Americans now say they have 'very little' or no confidence in Congress, up from 38% in 2009 -- and the highest for any institution since Gallup first asked this question in 1973" [i.e., when the Presidency was at the height of Watergate and the military at the end of Vietnam]), and near the bottom organized labor and TV news. The institution to take the biggest hit since last year's poll? The presidency (down from 51% to 36% - gee, I wonder who's responsible for that). The only institutions to improve by more than a point? The medical system and big business. Note that churches still poll far ahead of public schools (universities were mercifully exempted from the poll).

(Methodological note: this is a poll of all adults, and thus is likely to skew more to the left than a sample of registered or likely voters, as Neil Stevens noted yesterday in looking at Gallup's switch from polling registered voters to adults on the generic Congressional ballot).

Liberals can take comfort that big business and HMOs are still broadly mistrusted and thus make for useful scapegoats, but the bottom line here is the public remains much more in tune with the conservative view of what institutions are most and least worthy of trust.

Lesson for the Right? Well, all institutions are human and necessarily flawed both by their humanity and by the dynamics of any institution, particularly large ones. But the Right is on solid ground supporting the institutions to which public remains broadly willing to give the benefit of the doubt.

But as always, the GOP in particular should remember not to be the party of big business, but rather the party of free markets. That means sometimes defending big business against unreasonable attacks, but it also means remembering what the public instinctively knows and what economic theory predicts: large businesses are necessarily self-interested, and their interests are not always the same as the pro-free-market position. Indeed, much of what needs to be done in Washington over the next few years is not just saving businesses large and small from the predations of government, but specifically disentangling the unhealthy rent-seeking relationships between and among big government, big business and big labor.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:09 AM | Politics 2010 | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Big govt, big business and big labor. They strangle Europe. The biggest supporters for the GOP (and the tea party) are small business owners, the ones most hurt by the European style rent-seeking which Democrats in the US favor instinctively.

Posted by: stan at July 22, 2010 10:40 AM

Republicans will remember to be the party of free markets, not big business. Right up until they are ready to pass legislation. Then they'll be reminded of who pays their bills, and will give big business whatever they want. Just like they always have.
Easy for you to say, Crank. When your livelihood depends on big business, you too will do whatever they tell you as well.

Posted by: Berto at July 22, 2010 12:16 PM

"Indeed, much of what needs to be done in Washington over the next few years is not just saving businesses large and small from the predations of government, but specifically disentangling the unhealthy rent-seeking relationships between and among big government, big business and big labor."
------------
Be careful, Crank. That sounds a lot like election/ campaign reform.

Posted by: Berto at July 22, 2010 12:32 PM

Only a fool believes you can get money out of politics without getting politics out of money.

Posted by: Crank at July 22, 2010 12:36 PM

Crank,
Go ahead. Re-read what you wrote in that last paragraph (the one I cited in my previous post.)
A call for election/ campaign reform? I don't see you supporting the cutoff of that gravy train.
Nor do I see you (as a conservative soooooooooo verrrrrrrry concerned about spending) shutting down the military-industrial complex.
So other than Rovian rhetoric, what are you calling for?

Posted by: Berto at July 22, 2010 12:45 PM

1. Simplifying the tax code to have fewer loopholes. The worst offender, the corporate tax code, should be abolished, or failing that drastically simplified.

2. Reduced govt interference in the economy. The current Admin has endlessly meddled in who gets bailouts, who gets regulated, who gets nationalized, etc. Having the business community so dependent on fear & favor from govt creates all kinds of bad incentives for money flows in both directions.

3. Less govt spending that can make its way to favored companies and constituencies.

Posted by: Crank at July 22, 2010 12:51 PM

Crank,
1. Agreed. I read the closing of loopholes was how the JFK tax breaks were able to increase revenue. Getting corporations to go back to paying their fair share of the tax base (from almost 40% in 1960 to less than 15% in 2004), is imperative. The average citizen is being crushed by the burden of having to pay that additional 25%.

2. Businesses HAVE TO be regulated. If you don't believe that is true, then call for a complete shutdown of the EPA and throw out the Clean Water and Clean Air acts.
As a business owner, why should I care about the potability of the water you drink. My job is to maximize profits for my current stockholders. If it's cheaper for me to dump my waste in your reservoir, I''m doing it to maximize profits.

3. Agreed. Sounds like a call for a hatchet to the Defense Department budget and a break-up of the military-industrial complex (and the Drug War, and...and...) . Only a fool would think he could control government spending without tackling that sacred cow.

Posted by: Berto at July 22, 2010 1:14 PM

Crank,
Take a look at the 2008 Gallup poll. Trust in the presidency was 26% (far lower than it is today). Congress was 12% (nearly identical to today).

These are long-term trends and shouldn't be viewed through an ideological prism.

Posted by: Ryan at July 22, 2010 3:46 PM

It took 8 years for Bush to get that down to 26%, and we can all agree he would not have been re-elected in 2008 if he'd been on the ballot. Dropping 15 points in a year can't be healthy for Obama.

Also, unlike in 2008, it's no longer possible to conceal which party runs Congress.

Posted by: Crank at July 22, 2010 3:49 PM

Unbelievable that it took 8 years for Americans to figure out how big of a disaster GWB was. There's something to be said for having the highest rated cable news channel misinform and distract the American public for you.

BTW, the correct analogy for Obama's poll numbers at the same point in his Presidency is Reagan.
Of course, Reagan was one of the worst Presidents in the history of the American citizen, so there's that too.

Posted by: Berto at July 22, 2010 5:09 PM

"Well, all institutions are human and necessarily flawed both by their humanity and by the dynamics of any institution, particularly large ones."

So why give any of them the benefit of the doubt??

Posted by: MVH at July 23, 2010 9:17 AM

"Much of what needs to be done in Washington over the next few years is not just saving businesses large and small from the predations of government, but specifically disentangling the unhealthy rent-seeking relationships between and among big government, big business and big labor."

Ignore my last post. I see what you mean - yes - oligopolies and monopolies should be looked at skeptically. Unfortunately, they should also be regulated/investigated to a certain degree, which causes some tension in the free-market position.

The big problem with the free market position, however, is not domestic, but international.

Posted by: MVH at July 23, 2010 9:45 AM
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