Confidence In Society’s Institutions

Gallup published a poll on the 14th that addressed how Americans feel about their societal institutions. Americans and Confidence in Institutions

Many aspects of it are unsurprising. For example, the bottom ratings are given to big business, television news, and congress. A “Great deal of confidence” rating of 9%, 6%, and 5% respectively.

The three highest rankings went to the military, small business, and the police, at 37%, 36%, and 26%.

As opposed to the three at the bottom, the ones at the top enjoy a large share of “quite a lot” of confidence. I have no idea where the boundary between great deal and quite a lot falls

In the 17 areas selected only 4 have a “great deal” plus “quite a lot” of confidence over 40%. In order – small business, the military, the police and the medical system. At the other end of the scale 5 institution, have a little or no confidence level over 40%. Television news at 53%, and congress, at 51%, lead that pack, followed by newspapers, criminal justice, and big business.

What else to notice

There are wide differences in the results depending on political persuasion. Democrats value the presidency much more than republicans. There is a 49% trust gap. 62% to 13%. Republicans value the police and organized religion much higher than Democrats. How much of that relates to cheering for the home team is not addressed. I suspect many would change their view if the question became more personally specific.

Drawing Meaning

  1. People mistrust the intrusion of politics. The institutions a the bottom are the ones that assess political effect over value to society. The ones at the top are least affected by that.
  2. Institutions that should be beyond politics have become trapped in the middle. Organized religion, the supreme court, the medical system, and schools provide best service when they are apolitical.
  3. As confidence fades, should they become more political or less political? More political may serve their funding and power well in the short term, but can be catastrophic in the long term. Maybe they think they can be strong enough to be immune to a shift in political winds.
  4. Should we not ask, “Why is politics even a consideration in the majority of the institutions?” I suppose it is because there are about 25% of the people who like to be the boss.

Last Question

It is part of the reliability assessment. “Do you trust Gallup surveys?” Always assess the messenger.

An example of messenger problems:

After a thorough investigation, a rich gangster finds out that his bookkeeper has cheated him out of 10 million bucks. His bookkeeper is deaf and that was the reason he got the job in the first place. It was assumed that a deaf bookkeeper would not hear anything that he might have to testify about in court.

When the mobster goes to confront the bookkeeper about his missing $10 million, he brings along his attorney, who knows sign language.

The Godfather tells the lawyer ‘Ask him where the $10 million bucks he embezzled from me is’. The attorney, using sign language, asks the bookkeeper: “Where is the money?” The bookkeeper signs back: ‘I don’t know what you are talking about’.

The attorney tells the gangster: ‘He says he doesn’t know what you’re talking about’. The gangster pulls out a pistol, puts it to the bookkeeper’s temple and says, ‘Ask him again!’

The attorney signs to the bookkeeper: ‘He’ll kill you if you don’t tell him!’ The bookkeeper signs back: ‘OK! OK! You win! The money is in a brown briefcase, buried behind the shed in my cousin Enzo’s backyard in Queens!’

The Godfather asks the attorney: ‘Well, what’d he say?’ ‘He says you don’t have the guts to pull the trigger.’

Enjoy your weekend.

I help people have more retirement income and larger, more liquid estates.

Call in Canada 705-927-4770, or email

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