So many U.S. institutions, so much failure

America is at a time of noisy peril.

Some of us can’t abide others of us.

Teachers are permitted to share their personal sexual experiences with third-graders, but no school child is required to pledge allegiance to the flag.

Sexual fluidity gets more attention than traditional values such as honesty and voting, and math is racist.

When did the craziness begin?

Trust in our institutions — all of them — are at record lows, according to Gallup. That has been widely reported and it should be alarming. And yet. . . .

What is not widely known is that very few national institutions ever earned more than 50% of Americans’ confidence since Gallup started polling this issue in 1973. Have we always been so cynical?

Right now only two institutions — small business and the military — have confidence ratings of more than 50%. (Police had a 51% approval until this year.)

Everything else — religion, schools, medicine, TV news, Congress, newspapers, banks, major corporations, high-tech companies — don’t even approach the 50% mark.

Why the low grades for American institutions?

Gallup doesn’t say, but our institutions have been under attack for decades. Progressives in particular apply the test of moral purity to a vast array of people, organizations, and events in our history, with no regard for the context of the times.

No institution operates in a vacuum, and as human inventions, they are susceptible to errors.

It is perfectly understandable that confidence in the church would plummet in the wake of stories of priests preying on children.

How much confidence do you have in big tech when it starts cancelling only people with your point of view?

How many times do banks and Wall Street get to crash our economy before we hold them at arms length?

When the U.S. Supreme Court seems to be more oriented towards ideology than justice, confidence drops. Its highest rating was 56% in 1985. For the past decade it has hovered in the 30s. That’s pathetic.

One institution — the lowest-rated at 7% —  Congress, offers a possible explanation for its dismal grades.

There are some issues on which most Americans agree.

Under our representative democracy, that should mean Americans get what they want.

But do we?

Abortion is our most divisive issue.

It certainly is the loudest, but Pew Research reports that 61% of Americans favor legal abortion in some or all cases.

In this case, and others, digging into the weeds of the survey will reveal minor divisions, but, overall, 6 in 10 Americans agree that abortion should be safe and legal. 

Imagine their disappointment when the Supreme Court declared there was no right to an abortion. 

The majority wants something, but neither Congress nor the Supremes furnish it. That builds anger and distrust.

An even greater majority of Americans want expanded background checks for gun purchases — 83% of gun owners in one survey. I have seen polling as high as 91%, including a majority of NRA members.

There is less near-unanimity on other gun control measures, such as banning some types of weapons, but deeper background checks are very popular. Despite that, the recent congressional bi-partisan gun bill — the first in 30 years — expanded background checks only for those under 21.

You spoke. Congress ignored.

The last time Congress did anything meaningful on immigration was the Immigration Control and Reform Act of 1986,  

It offered amnesty to millions of illegals and Congress promised to strengthen our borders. It did not do that. Hiring illegals was made unlawful, and we know how badly that worked out, but it was at least a stab at fixing the problem.

Today, polling by Ipsos says Americans want immigration restrictions and reforms, but get neither.

Pew Research finds majority support for single-payer health insurance be it government or a mix of public and private. But we don’t get it.

Medicare is probably, with Social Security, the most popular government program. There is no real political risk in expanding it, so why not?

It’s a little baffling.

And if we are going to expand health coverage, which is happening over time, why not education? 

A majority of Americans want free public higher education, according to an educational website citing Pew Research. Do we have it? No.

Those are a lof of  “wants” from the public, whose opinion of  Congress won’t improve until the Honorables start delivering. 

As for the other institutions, a lot of honest introspection and repair are in order. 

It starts with these questions: What do our customers/clients expect from us, and how do we deliver it? 

36 thoughts on “So many U.S. institutions, so much failure”

    Glad to see that you are feeling better. You wrote a real brain burner today !
    As you always say, most of us hover towards the middle. To me, that means we want reasonable things bought and paid for in a reasonable manner. RIGHT. Gallup goes back to the ’70s. Research shows that we’ve been sliding downhill since the ’60s. Why is that ? Is it because capitalism, which we think we love, is not such a good idea ? On paper, competition drives costs down. In reality, it goes the other way. The phrase, ‘whatever the traffic will bear comes to mind’. The medical arena is a great example of runaway costs. Research provides us with better everything, but research costs money. Why does some medicine cost hundreds or thousands per dose, while others are way down in the dollars range ? Why is it that hospitals negotiate with the insurers to get a discount while we without insurance must pay full price ? Lots of questions. Few answers. Here’s one. Not too long ago, the Philly fire Department had to raise their rates for ambulance service. It seems that those that played the system would dial 911 instead of uber or whomever. Today, your insurance does NOT pay the entire cost for this service.
    There is a good example as to why the public does not trust big business nor government. Somebody made capitalism a dirty word.
    As for you my friend. Keep pushing yourself. It’s been proven over and over. Do what the body will allow. Suffer some pain as you work through the therapy. The rewards will come in the form good health.

  2. Not to quibble, but the SCOTUS did not rule that abortion is illegal, it ruled that Roe v. Wade was unconstitutional. Abortion is still legal and now it is the states that may write abortion laws.

    I read of a recent flap in Great Britain where that nation’s leftists wanted to do away with the singing of Rule Brittania owing to Great Britain’s loss of world power, and the lyrics which the leftists insist are jingoistic, racist, etc. etc. Sound familiar? Here in GB’s former colony, we have let the Left dictate to us what is acceptable: no more Kate Smith singing God Bless America because at one time she said something the Left disagrees with. We have torn down the statues of courageous soldiers from the South because they wanted to secede. The military is now more concerned with WOKE ideology that it has forgotten its primary purpose — and can’t find enough men and women to fill its ranks. I could cite so many incidents where the Left has made us feel horrible toward ourselves and our nation, and that (I believe) has led to our self-loathing and disappointment in our institutions. Tell a child over and over again that he is worthless, and he will believe it. Tell a nation over again it is bad, sick, sinful, selfish, and so on and it becomes the truth. Thanks for raising this issue. But I think it is like the weather: everyone talks about it, but nothing is ever done about it.

    1. The quibble would be justified if I said the court made abortion illegal. I did not. I said the “declared there was no right to abortion.”
      I do agree with your point that if say something is worth long enough, it gets believed.

  3. Traditional Americans are a minority now. We are now out numbered by people who want to be taken care of. The majority do not believe in being self reliant. They don’t believe in accountibiliy they don’t believe in standards ,they don’t know right from wrong and they have know common sense. They want everything for free. God forbid you would have to earn anything. Unless these socialists among us wake up. America as we knew it is doomed.

  4. …. and John Rich would say to that…..
    There’s a hole in this country where its heart used to be
    And Old Glory’s divided on fire in the street
    They say Building Back Better will make America great
    If that’s a wave of the future, all I’ve got to say
    (chorus) Stick your progress where the sun don’t shine
    Keep your big mess away from me and mine
    If you leave us alone, well we’d all be just fine
    Stick your progress where the sun don’t shine
    They invite the whole world to come live in our land
    And leave our countrymen dying in Afghanistan
    They say let go of Jesus, let government save
    And you can have back your freedom if you do what we say
    They shut down our pipelines, and they shut down our voices
    They shut down our Main Streets, and they shut down our choices
    They bent us all over, but it’s all over now
    ‘Cause we’ve figured it out, we ain’t backing down

  5. Growing up in grade school in West Philadelphia at the start of every class day, each room started with the pledge of allegiance and a morning prayer. Respect for two institutions (God & Country) were taught. No questions were asked, it was a catholic grade school. A year or two before my high school years the government actions in the Vietnam War had accelerated the distrust of our government. 1967 was the start of American youth questioning most American institutions (Education Systems, Criminal Justice system, Military, and others). Our institutions have changed and survived. I believe we are living in a period of rapid change due to the advancement of multiple sources of information or disinformation on the internet. However I believe America will bounce back and thrive in the future. Let’s hope and believe in our institutions for our children and grandchildren.

  6. A lot of negativities to wake up to in the morning but where does positive change come from to address all the problems. Single parent families continue to grow which lessons the teaching of respect, solid moral values, educational attainment. Personnel everyday conversation is gone with the phone from hell that will continue to be the voice or texting of the human species. We reduce language to the use of our fingers by so an expanded vocabulary is obsolete. Some answers but extremely difficult to accomplish. Term limits but every state believes their representative is worth reelecting. The first year after being elected is spent raising money for reelection. School curriculum needs revamping. Reading and Math are either stagnating or dropping in their scores. Fifty percent of new teachers leave after a few years because of disruptive environment and an agenda set by those who are more political than student instructors ignoring critical individual attention. Disruptive students can hold back an entire class. Unions have reached a fair wage and benefits but now are delving into demands outside of labor issues. The criminal justice system has turned around from enforcing the “broken window crime” and replaced with leniency, and second and third chances. Progressives have bought into the theory that small crimes should be ignored or forgiven making mom and pop stores close. They ignore a 78% recidivist rate believing early release or low sentencing will work while crime continues to do the opposite. All the stats reflect a hopelessness of the ability to change and sadly there are few real leaders on the horizon. Change for the positive cannot be made with today’s society. It will have to begin with our youngest to devise a new curriculum of basic principles like respect, positive use of communications, educational tools to prepare them for the harsh reality of human existence. Bottom line whether it was Covid, rampant permissiveness, failed family structure, Lobbyists setting the rule of the land or just plain indifference we are spinning wheels in a muddy playing field and triple A has downsized to only one tow-truck and they can’t find an employee who wants to work.

  7. Note that most of the items mentioned in your article that MOST Americans want are:

    Gun Control
    Medicare/Single-Payer Healthcare
    Social Security
    Free Higher Education

    Leaving out immigration reform, all of the above would be generally considered “progressive” measures. So if MOST Americans want these things, a) are they REALLY progressive nowadays, or are they more Centrist? and b) does that mean we are now truly under MINORITY, rather than MAJORITY, rule? If most of us want those things and we ain’t getting them, seems like that must be the case.

    It would appear that if the information you provided is true, it might be best for us all to vote Democrat come November. Dems are the only ones who support those things listed. Simple math, my friend. Ain’t a single Republican who is gonna give them to you. Act accordingly.

    1. Your the perfect example of the new american. You want everything for free. You don’t know right from wrong if you think killing your children is right. Social security is a scam. People should be responsible for the own retirement. The government gets your money if you die before your eligible not your heirs.

      1. A. I don’t want ANYTHING for free. Don’t speak for me. B. Ain’t NOBODY killing “children”. You don’t get to use your definition of “children” for anyone but YOU, my friend. Stay out of my life. C. Social security is a “scam”? Bullshit. I paid into social security every day of my working life. I don’t think you know how it works. Have you ever had a job? D. It’s people like YOU who are the problem.

        1. If you drop dead before you are eligible all your money goes to the government. So you paid into it for nothing. It’s a scam.

          1. HAPPY THURSDAY !!!
            You are correct sir. Social Security has had its day in the sun. With clouded memory. Roosevelt introduced S.S. to save the lower class. There was no middle class. I believe that he also introduced welfare.
            The basic idea was good at the time, then politicians being the lowlifes that they are, figured out how to get their slimey hands on ‘untouchable’ funds. ( I know that New Jersey did something similar )
            My wife is was of those people that paid into the fund their whole life. She did NOT get one check form the government.
            sidebar: When my wife died, shortly thereafter, I filed for S.S.. I got a call from them one day. Short version. If you take your wife’s account – which is less than yours – for five years, we will double your money when you change over. Good deal, right ? They wanted an answer right then and there. Because men don’t have longevity in my family, I said no.
            BTW. Social Security will POBABLY go broke. I just hope that I get my share before it happens. I say this because S.S. operates on the principle that we who are working, pay for those that are collecting. The numbers have drastically changed. Fewer people are paying into the plan than those that are collecting ! This is one of the many side benefits of being loyal to the dimocrat party ! Another handout paid for by someone other than YOU, the freeloader !
            As Greg+offner said. COMON NOVEMBER !

          2. All SS has to do to become solvent until 2070 is remove the cap on payments. I did a column on this about 10 years ago that Mr. Google could not produce. Sigh. In any event, Congress will not it go bust because even most Republicans love it.
            Most, not all.

          1. It is geniuses like you, Daniel, who assume way too much. For instance, I ain’t a woman. I am a large man. There is literally NOTHING someone like YOU can teach me.

    2. I’d really like to discuss this at length, but I’m not up to it.
      Let me throw two things out for discussion. If Americans — 70% or more — wanted something, is ir not by definition “centrist” and not “progressive”? I “think’ they are different spheres.
      I mentioned things change if you dig deep into the numbers. Take abortion. Gallup combines two answer streams — accept under ALL circumstances, with SOME. That results in 61%. But (from memory) those put no restrictions are about 25%. It gets to 61% by including the people like me who would have some restrictions, which is where Roe was.
      Hope that makes sense.

        1. You rant like an overly hormonal hysterical woman i would have never thought you were a man. Please accept my apologies.

  8. Interesting that organized labor was the only category not to drop in trust.

    Also, I would be interested to see the trust in church/religion for the years before, during and after reports on child sex abuse. Then compare that to the trust other countries.

  9. Once again Freeze you posted straight and to the point.

    Be readly for more attacks because they know you are correct in what you say/said.

      1. Daniel, I will not be as nice as Freeze was in answering you.

        GO FUCK YOURSELF! If that bothers you I suggest you deal with it because there is not a damn thing you can do about it.

          1. Great post! In other words, you were correct! Dumber than freeze, indeed. LMAO!!!

  10. As usual, the brilliant Mr. Clark reduces a very, very complex subject to a single sentence pulled out of his behind when he says “Social Security will probably (not “POBABLY”) go broke.” Heaven forbid he would take the time to actually LEARN something about the subject, but he’d rather throw out pithy platitudes instead of actually reading something of merit, which is how you get the way he is. Here’s a link in case you’d like to learn about how the social security system works, why it works, and what the future might look like and why. It’s not all rosy for sure, but these are FACTS, something which you guys are clearly allergic to.

    So go ahead and vote Republican, geniuses. They have been in charge for the most part for the past 40 years, and all the stuff you are complaining about is a result of the policies they, not the Democrats, put forth. The Repubs are very good at convincing unthinking, gullible people like you that the Democrats are the villains of the piece. Kinda like when they claim they love veterans and then vote against laws like the burn pit legislation they just killed yesterday. Guess you are okay with that, right?

    The policies that Roosevelt created back in the day are pretty much the sole reason the middle class exists in the first place, and our parents’ generation thrived because of those policies. You guys love to opine that the 1950 and early 60s were “the good old days.” Well, thank Roosevelt for that time period. The past 40 years of Republican rule has virtually destroyed that middle class by unfairly favoring the wealthy so that they don’t pay their fair share in taxes, both personal and corporate. Wealth equality is now demonstrably completely out of skew. And since you two geniuses obviously AIN’T wealthy, they have you convinced to vote against your own needs.

    The Dems are by no means perfect, but they are also by no means anti-Democracy, anti-truth fascists like Trump & Co. and the Republicans who line up behind him.

    And as for Daniel, his comments here are virtually useless.

  11. Thank GOD, Commander Bone Spurs LOST the election. Besides wanting to withdraw from NATO, Trumpo & Moscow Mitch planned to privatize Medicare. Run that one by your local seniors’ group.
    BTW, my father received more in SS than he paid in. Served in the Navy during WW2 & Korea. He put off collecting until he was 70, and lived til 91. He retired at 80. My mother is 88 & collecting herself & his. I’m 63 and just filed. I’ve worked & paid in since I was 11. Semi-retired now.

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