Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ending the Cycle of Distrust

A central authority can trust its people

George Mason University economics professor Alex Tabarrock tweeted this:

In 1986 President Ronald Reagan said, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.' " And over the past 30 years the rhetoric of distrust has become increasingly shrill: don't trust the government, don't trust big corporations, don't trust foreigners, don't trust the rich, and so on.

Each of these indictments is employed for political gain and to separate the electorate into manageable, malleable segments. In a post a few years back I used the term "bifurcracy" to express my frustration and sadness at how major political parties used distrust to pull us apart.

So what's to be done? First, we can talk about how this downward spiral of distrust hurts us as a nation and individually. Then, politically, we can recognize the ills of blind dogma and the benefits of pragmatic compromise.

But it's more than ideology; it's practical actions as well. Instead of food stamps, let's give people cash and trust that they'll make good decisions. Instead of heavily regulating business transactions between consenting parties, let's trust them to engage in transactions that are beneficial to each. Instead of limiting what we may consume, give us information and trust we'll make good choices.

If you've read this blog previously, you know I'm an optimist. But I'm also a realist. Trust builds with good deeds and faith over time. There's hard work and attitude adjustments in store.