The Public’s Distrust of Government

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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 two and one-half years in office.

Hoover’s "first 2½ 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?

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Ralph R. Reiland [send him mail] is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.

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