(CNSNews.com) - The “trust and confidence” the American people have in the federal government’s handling of both domestic and international problems is now at a lower level than it was even during the height of the Watergate scandal in 1974, according to Gallup polling data released last week. (Read the whole story here.)
It does not surprise me that people generally do not have “trust and confidence” in government. I think the explanation for this is fairly simple.
I would generally not trust my dentist to repair my automobile. I would not trust my mechanic to care for my teeth. This does not necessarily reflect negatively on my dentist or my mechanic. It’s just that it generally does not make sense to trust anyone, or any entity, to do something for which it was not designed.
People generally expect governments to do far too much. When I say “too much” I mean in particular “things for which it is not competent.” You can wish your mechanic could also fix your teeth, but that wish is irrational.
It is irrational to expect governments to do almost everything. This tendency, in fact, is something of a theological issue. We tend to expect governments to be omnicompetent. But that is really not very competent of us. In fact, it is not just stupid. It is also a bit idolatrous. Yet we often exhibit this weird tendency to wishfully think governments can everything for us, all the while (at least in more sober moments) realizing that this is a false hope.
Think of all the things most of us want governments to do. No, wait – that would take too long. Instead, try to think of something we don’t want governments to do. Slim list, isn’t it?
I know many think this is related to Barack Obama’s somewhat fading hyper-popularity. That could be part of it.
But most of this attitude stems from the fact that asking governments to take care of all our problems is something like asking your auto mechanic to clean your teeth. No matter how nice a guy he might be, you are going to be disappointed.