Does this level of mistrust damage our society? It should be obvious, that people don’t invest with people they don’t trust. And I find it hard to believe these numbers aren’t reflected overseas.
What about a nation where the major institutions are held in widespread contempt? Congress, the courts, state governments, the health care system – would you feel comfortable running any of them in popularity contest?
What about corporations? From the article –
Big corporations fared the worst in the survey, with just 13 percent of Americans saying they trust these major businesses. That’s the same level as the first quarter of last year and down from the middle of 2010.
The stock market also isn’t high on Americans’ list of trusted organizations, with just 16 percent of Americans saying they trust that institution. Again, that’s the same percentage as last March.
Banks and mutual funds fared better, at 43 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Among all the components of the index, the banking system has seen the biggest percentage gain in trust this year.
This is a very serious matter. These levels of distrust, probably even hatred, are reflected in actions. Could the idea that vaccinations caused autism have gained traction without widespread distrust of the pharmaceutical industry? Children have died because of the lower rate of vaccinations.
These are not signs of a healthy society. They are the signs of a distressed society, a society where things no longer work. Trust abandonment can manifest in many ways. Most likely, we will see more and more political volatility.
Elections will be won by groups who claim to have all the answers. When they fail to deliver, they will be thrown out in mass. Election victories will go more and more to extremists. And when those winners fail to deliver, there will be another cycle where they are thrown out. It will make stability impossible and each cycle will further radicalize the nation.
We are already seeing the embrace of abandoned ideas and discredited ideologies. Of course, the system may return to stability for any of wide number of factors. But I don’t think so. The mistrust, the hatred, is too deep.