Home > Government intervention, Public Choice > Who do we trust?

Who do we trust?

A comment over at Cafe Hayek and the recent EconTalk podcast prompted me to think about trust again.

I do think it’s odd that people distrust markets so much, but irrationally trust Government more.

Corporations can’t cause a war, only Governments can. Corporations can’t cart people off to internment camps, only Governments can. Corporations can’t force you to buy certain products, only Government can try that.

So why do people trust Government, when in fact, the politicians are the very same heads of corporations or beholden to those corporations that people distrust so much? Why the rose colored glasses when it comes to Government and not Markets?

People should understand how government really works rather than some romantic, rose-colored way. The rose-colored way is the dominant way government is viewed. Is that true? Most people have a very low opinion of Congress, of politicians: lying scoundrels. People blame the individual: Let’s vote the scoundrels out. Congress selects for a certain type of person, as most occupations do. The problem, chief problem, isn’t with the nature of the particular people in office. It’s with the incentives voters face in electing them and the incentives the politicians face when in office. Voters focus on personalities.

I’ve said this before, but I think there is something in our genetic makeup that makes Humans want to have something or someone in charge. The idea of decentralization is a scary concept for most people and the subject to far too many straw men. It’s the job of a politician to make people feel safe in some sort of way, which is why voters focus more on personalities than anything else. Obama anyone?

Really the question ultimately comes down to, who do we trust? We know both Government and Corporations are in the business of screwing the public, I think the best course of action is to go with the decentralized one, Markets. Not all corporations are out to screw everyone. They can’t force people to buy their products. Only the Government can force people against their will.

  1. yttik
    March 16, 2010 at 10:52

    Here’s an interesting article that goes with the theme of emotional/psychological influences on economies, behavior, government intervention, unintended consequences.

    How going green may make you mean


    There is a big divide between the left and the right on trusting the federal government more then the private sector. Those recent coffee parties for instance, “we don’t believe in demonizing the federal government.” Myself, I can’t relate to this attitude because it is the Feds that historically encroach on people’s freedom. They’re the ones that rounded up the Japanese, not the big evil phone company. The Fed Gov may be a necessary evil, but I don’t understand people that portray them as benevolent and caring. It’s a bureaucracy, bureaucracies don’t love you back.

    • March 21, 2010 at 18:46

      They don’t want to deal with those nasty facts. They have an ideal that is government and won’t let the facts persuade them, except of course if there is a GOP in the WH. I don’t understand it at all.

  2. Woodhull
    March 18, 2010 at 20:09

    This is a very powerful topic, ZH. I have to say that this is the first time (seems like a lot of firsts in the past couple of years, especially) that I am not neutral about the malignancy of our government. Hells, bells, I served in the military because despite the error of Vietnam, I still had a lot of faith in the overall aims of the U.S. gov’t. Now, however, I wish they didn’t even know I existed. Paranoia? I think it may even be approaching that strong a feeling. Whatever it is, I’m saddened by my turn of opinion about our government.

    • March 21, 2010 at 18:49

      It’s reality hitting you in the face. Happened to me as well, as I assume happened to a lot of people these days. I think it’s wrong to put too much faith in mere mortals (politicians) anyway. They are human, subject to all the same flaws, temptations and sins as anyone else. The more and more I think about it, the more I dislike the notion of finding the “right” leader. I don’t think that person can or will ever exist. Once we get past that notion, we can deal with politicians being what they really are, self-interested individuals, just like everyone else.

  3. Woodhull
    March 18, 2010 at 20:12

    Oh, and I finally stopped to really think about why I can’t stand the sound of bo’s voice. It’s not the sound of his voice, per se. It’s because I don’t believe a word he says and listening to him makes me nauseous to think that he’s getting away with it.

    • March 21, 2010 at 18:46

      I just don’t like his preachy cadence.

      • Woodhull
        March 22, 2010 at 18:37

        Well, I can’t stand it either. He’s always holding forth and I don’t like being talked “at.”

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