The Public’s Distrust

Member Group : Reflections

The good news is that Americans’ distrust of government is at its highest level ever.

It’s good news because it shows the public recognizes how poorly we’re being governed. Not much good comes out of trusting people who shouldn’t be trusted — not much good comes out of re-electing them, either.

Only 9 percent of Americans approve of the way Congress is handling its job, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. That’s one point higher than the percentage of Americans who said in a 2002 Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll that they believe Elvis could still be alive.

Asked if they approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling job creation, 58 percent disapproved, 35 percent approved and 7 percent were undecided.

Going back to 1890 on job-creation rates in the United States, Kevin A. Hassett reported in National Review magazine in August that Herbert Hoover and Barack Obama were the only presidents to have negative job creation during their first 2 1/2 years in office.

Hoover’s "first 2 1/2 years encompassed the dawn of the Great Depression," explained Hassett. "Other than Hoover and Obama, no modern American leader has presided over negative job growth for a comparable period," he reported, drawing on data from David Weir’s "A Century of U.S. Unemployment: 1890-1990" and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In Pennsylvania, the Keystone Research Center recently reported in "The State of Working Pennsylvania" that 14.3 percent of workers in the state had been unemployed at some point during the past year. Add the number of workers who could get only part-time jobs but were seeking full-time employment and the number jumps to 43 percent of Pennsylvania’s workforce.

And what’s the reaction to all this from Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid?

"It’s very clear that private-sector jobs have been doing just fine. It’s the public-sector jobs where we’ve lost huge numbers, and that’s what this legislation is all about," he stated on Oct. 19 from the Senate floor, pushing for passage of a $35 billion bailout for public employee unions and state budgets.

What’s "very clear" is that Harry Reid is either being dishonest or is completely in the dark about what’s happening with the nation’s jobs and the economy — subjects that are far and away the most important concerns on voters’ minds.

"Government data — available on the Web to all, including Reid — show 6.257 million private-sector jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007," responded Investor’s Business Daily. "That’s a 5.4 percent decline. By comparison, government employment at all levels — federal state and local — over that same period has fallen by about 392,000, or just 1.75 percent. If you look just at Reid’s employer, the federal government, the number of jobs actually increased by 63,000 since 2007 — a 2.29 percent gain."

By far, contrary to Reid’s comment, the recession has hit the private sector harder than it has hit the bloated federal sector — and those new jobs in the federal government don’t come cheap to the nation’s increasingly strapped taxpayers who are stuck paying the bill.

"The typical household in the Washington metro area — where government is the No. 1 employer — earned $84,523 last year, or 69 percent higher than the national median of $50,046," reports Investor’s Business Daily. "Federal employees took home $126,000 — two-and-a-half times the U.S. median."

Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics and the B. Kenneth Simon professor of free enterprise at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.