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In God we trust, maybe, but not each other

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  • In God we trust, maybe, but not each other

    In God we trust, maybe, but not each other
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    Nov 30, 9:04 AM (ET)


    WASHINGTON (AP) - You can take our word for it. Americans don't trust each other anymore.

    We're not talking about the loss of faith in big institutions such as the government, the church or Wall Street, which fluctuates with events. For four decades, a gut-level ingredient of democracy - trust in the other fellow - has been quietly draining away.

    These days, only one-third of Americans say most people can be trusted. Half felt that way in 1972, when the General Social Survey first asked the question.
    Forty years later, a record high of nearly two-thirds say "you can't be too careful" in dealing with people.

    An AP-GfK poll conducted last month found that Americans are suspicious of each other in everyday encounters. Less than one-third expressed a lot of trust in clerks who swipe their credit cards, drivers on the road, or people they meet when traveling.

    "I'm leery of everybody," said Bart Murawski, 27, of Albany, N.Y. "Caution is always a factor."

    Does it matter that Americans are suspicious of one another? Yes, say worried political and social scientists.

    What's known as "social trust" brings good things.

    A society where it's easier to compromise or make a deal. Where people are willing to work with those who are different from them for the common good. Where trust appears to promote economic growth.

    Distrust, on the other hand, seems to encourage corruption. At the least, it diverts energy to counting change, drawing up 100-page legal contracts and building gated communities.

    Even the rancor and gridlock in politics might stem from the effects of an increasingly distrustful citizenry, said April K. Clark, a Purdue University political scientist and public opinion researcher.

    "It's like the rules of the game," Clark said. "When trust is low, the way we react and behave with each other becomes less civil."
    There's no easy fix.

    In fact, some studies suggest it's too late for most Americans alive today to become more trusting. That research says the basis for a person's lifetime trust levels is set by his or her mid-twenties and unlikely to change, other than in some unifying crucible such as a world war.
    Much more - worth the read. They touch on Putnam but not his more recent findings relating to diversity and multiculturalism as a deciding factor in both ingroup and outgroup trust.

    Income inequality is naturally mentioned but there's a failure to explain how trust declined today due to that but not 100 years ago when the inequality was greater in survival terms.

    AP news via My Way
    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

  • #2
    In God we trust. Everyone else pays cash.
    It's been ten years since that lonely day I left you
    In the morning rain, smoking gun in hand
    Ten lonely years but how my heart, it still remembers
    Pray for me, momma, I'm a gypsy now