lying politicianFirst, who’s this “we”?  I don’t know…”Americans”?  Is there such a thing?

So, on the heels of recent cursory research into the salaries of our local major liberal arts university as well as a report in the HT about our local school corporation’s remuneration for its administrators (quick reminder, of 1700 employees, 42 make over 75K, all administrators but one, with the new head Kommissar pulling in 190K set to increased to 225K next year), The Errant is forced to continue to hammer the point home: the corporation is NOT the appropriate model for social stability and trust.  (We will further examine “corporations” as “persons” in a future post.)

[Personal sidebar: Should you elect me to the MCCSC School Board my first act will be to change the MCCSC to the MCCSD, replacing Corporation with District.  My second act, to allow labor to run the factory by giving the role of Super the axe and minimizing the role of "principal" to that of a kind of general accountant.  There, my platform is well on its way.]

But back to the point, Americans DO NOT trust politicians; Americans DO NOT trust corporations; Americans DO NOT trust Unions (presumably we see the leaders of such as just more conniving politicians); Americans also, it seems, no longer trust teachers, at least if this Missouri law against “Facebook” contact between teachers and students means anything.

As for our trust in Corporations, here’s this from Maritz Research (St. Louis):

According to the poll, approximately, one-quarter (25 percent) of employees report having less trust in management than they did last year. Only 10 percent of employees trust management to make the right decision in times of uncertainty. The percentage increases to 16 percent among employees 18-24 years of age who only recently entered the workforce and didn’t directly experience many of the management scandals of the past 10 years.

Slightly more than one in 10 Americans (14 percent) believes their company’s leaders are ethical and honest. In addition, the poll found that only 12 percent of employees believe their employer genuinely listens to and cares about its employees, and only seven percent of employees believe senior management’s actions are completely consistent with their words.

Who does America trust?

In God?  Which version?  I don’t mean to be “glib,” as Tom Cruise declared of the Today Show’s smug Matt Lauer (who was indeed being glib as is his wont; and frankly Cruise made more sense than you might expect) when interviewing him about Scientology and Psychology (competing “sciences”?) but there are several Christian interpretations of God, His Son, and so on, as well as any number of different versions of the Supreme Being on offer by other communities of believers.

“Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer.”

What does it mean to be a “believer”?  I assume everyone believes something even if it’s is believing that nothing is “believable”.  William James posits, in The Will to Believe, that belief is not rational but that it may be quite sensible.  Pascal, famously quoted out of context, encourages his reader to “wager all on God.” Might as well, he says, because, well, if God is real, you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of that bet!  He further contends (h/t Hall B.) the more you act like you believe, even if you don’t, you will come to do so.  Belief is, ipso facto, magic!

Today (though published online yesterday afternoon), the HT has a commentary by a fella named Bob Bridge out of Bedford, IN titled “Predators prone to prey.”  The title alone leads you to imagine that there are two types of folks in the following construction–a formulation akin to that attributed to PT Barnum, there’s a sucker born every minute–prey (or sheep) and predators (or wolves, and alligators, and hawks, and humans…oh, humans are both).  Anyway, there is a third (epitomized by Bridge one imagines), the rugged individual who knows when to disdain the flock and when to pull out the gun and shoot the fox in the hen-house.  (Possibly my metaphors are getting muddled.)

Here’s the kind of “faith” I won’t be betting on.

Dad was surprised when Jimmy, exposed during an unsavory tryst, stood before the cameras and cried: “I have sinned against you, my Lord, and I would ask that your precious blood would wash and cleanse every stain until it is in the seas of God’s forgiveness.”

Three years later, Jimmy was mired in the muck again.

No problem.

New flock. Another network.

Today, Jimmy Swaggart Ministries is a multimillon-dollar operation. Not only can Jimmy introduce you to the Lord, for a mere $150 he can hook you up with a personally autographed Bible (Jimmy’s signature, not God’s) wrapped in a genuine sheepskin leather burgundy cover.

I would argue that Swaggart is Hagee is McCain is Obama is Palin is Coulter is Bush is Clinton is Limbaugh is Fox is MSNBC and so on.

Bridge ends this way:

Yet some simply detest decision-making. After all, following is more convenient, less laborious than thinking and reasoning. A chagrined Norman Vincent Peale noted: “Once we roared like lions for liberty; now we bleat like sheep for security!”

As long as sheep, blindly obedient, provide a target-rich environment, predators and false prophets will be prone to prey on them.

I’m not sure what this somewhat secular homily is intended to convey.  Is it a call to Democratic Participation, a call to an active citizenry?  To an armed citizenry (I’m wary of that “target-rich” environment)?  To the “ownership society”?  To the spirit of the “West” or rather “rugged individualism” that most harmful of American myths?

We are responsible for our own living and thinking.  But how do we even know what we can think when all of our institutions are corrupted by systems that encourage “competition” and profit above people; by constant advertising to encourage all manner of consumption from landfill-destined commodities to presidential politics.  Advertising is an industry prizing and rewarding the biggest lie that sells the most garbage.  THAT is the backbone of our American lives (“celebrate the moments of our lives”).

We prize the money-makers forgetting that they are really a form of grifter peculiar to this “frontier land” adept at gaming the very system you believe supports your “right” to a “common” life that is comparable to your fellow citizens.  The grifters are in the ascendancy and we appear to all of us be their prey.

Sheldon Wolin, near the end of Democracy Incorporated diagnoses our major obstacle to a real democracy:

If democracy is about participating in self-government, its first requirement is a supportive culture, a complex of beliefs, values and practices that nurture equality, cooperation and freedom. A rarely discussed but crucial need of a self-governing society is that the members and those they elect to office tell the truth….

Self-government is, literally, deformed by lying; it cannot function when those in office assume as a matter of course that, when necessary or advantageous, they can mislead the citizenry. (260-1)

Lying is actually a time-honored method of governing the “masses”; however, that method is not commonly called “democratic.”

If you don’t you want to read a political diagnosis of our national disease (lying and self-aggrandizement) then perhaps you might get thee to the work of Nathanael West and ask, “In whom should Lemuel Pitkin trust?”

In none do we trust, yet we believe everything.


Tags: , , , , ,

Douglas Storm is a host and producer for Interchange on Bloomington, Indiana's community radio station WFHB. "Why then do you try to 'enlarge' your mind? Subtilize it..."


  1. We Trust in Tech Companies? (Pew Poll) | B-town Errant - August 10, 2011

    [...] 9, 2011 Politicians, Corporations, Unions…In None Do We Trust Education [...]

  2. The Actions of the Criminal Classes: The Mask of Freedom - September 2, 2011

    [...] Recall in an earlier post I cited a passage from Sheldon Wolin’s Democracy Incorporated (“In None Do We Trust”): If democracy is about participating in self-government, its first requirement is a supportive [...]

  3. You Say Sharia, I Say Shulchan Aruch and Ave Maria - January 17, 2012

    [...] I seriously might take that chance. [...]

Leave a Reply

Glorifying War Shall Not Grow Old

Concerning War Movies (prompted by a conversation about Peter Jackson’s movie They Shall Not Grow Old). In J. D. Salinger’s […]

Cutting Down the Clouds

This winter they are cutting down our woods more seriously than ever,—Fair Haven Hill, Walden, Linnaea Borealis Wood, etc. etc. […]

Representative Texts from Hawthorne to Dickinson

In your daily busyness you are pressed for time to think and often choose instead anesthetization – watching any number […]

Between Hope and Defeat, History and Heaven

“God himself culminates in the present moment.” (Thoreau) What is “now” for? What if you “know” the future? Fairy tales […]

Absolute Solutions Necessary

Only two things to do: 1. zero out carbon emissions 2. exception: all technological and scientific labor exploring new solutions […]

Rachel Carson’s book had no real effect

Facing Global Climate Disruption and the End of Everything All At Once… David Wallace-Wells’ The Uninhabitable Earth tries very hard […]