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These Shutdowns Devastate the Credibility of Government

By Jeffrey A. Tucker

I’m writing in the midst of a hiatus in the government shutdown — a three-week period, which, as Saturday Night Live joked, reduces the supposedly indispensable institution (for both the country and the whole world) to the level of a Hulu subscription. It’s on again, off again, and no one knows for sure what will happen. Even the president has suggested that he could keep the partial shutdown going for years.

What a remarkable decline and fall in reliability, status, credibility, and therefore public confidence in government. Only 8 percent of the American people today tell pollsters that they have confidence in government. This is down from 74 percent half a century ago. This is a dramatic decline, and it profoundly impacts the viability of government control going forward.

I’m thinking back to the prevailing attitudes 100 years ago. Reading journals and books on politics from 1900 to 1945 is like visiting another planet. Every perceived failing of society was said to be fixable by more government power. Government in those days was the answer to make society more safe, secure, stable, smart, sober, peaceful, pious,

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