Trust in the Government Approaching an All-Time Low
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know ”
— Ode to a Grecian Urn, by John Keats
Your editor is a sucker for a lost cause…especially when that cause is his own!
We received a ton of encouraging reader mail over the weekend. (Thanks to everyone who wrote in!)
It seems our theme of “back to basics” living is catching on…even if only at the margin.
People sense something is not quite right with “the system”…but they are unsure as to what—if anything—they can do about it. They want a freer, more independent life…but where to start?
More on that, below. But first, back to that lost cause…us!
A reader—call him “Bob”—writes in to say…
I appreciate your thoughts. You obviously have a well-developed cerebrum. However, WTF is your agenda?
Right, let’s hit pause there. How in heavens is one to answer the charge of possessing a “well-developed cerebrum,” exactly?
Do we immodestly “plead the fifth?” Do we “deny all knowledge?” Or do we throw our hands in the air and pretend not to understand the accusation?
To be clear, we don’t claim any special knowledge. None, at least, that’s beyond the capacity of the average cerebrum to comprehend.
We’re just trying to discover ways to lead a simpler, more fulfilling life.
First, we begin from the only position we know with certainty: ignorance.
Where others profess answers, we come armed mostly with questions. And so, we start out scratching our head and shrugging our shoulders like any ordinary mammal.
And, like our skeptical reader, “Bob,” we keep an eyebrow furrowed and one eye squinted at all times…just in case.
As for what kind of agenda we have, that’s easier to answer: We have none.
At least, not in the political sense.
As we mentioned last week, when it comes to being “into” politics, we’re mostly into being out of it.
The definition of insanity springs to mind. That is, doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting a different result.
We have friends—dear friends, intelligent friends—who have dedicated more precious time and resources to political movements than they’d probably care to tally…
They joined marches in their youth and attended various rallies and protests.
In each election that came around they voted harder and in more earnest than the one before.
They made donations (sometimes substantial ones) to this or that candidate…the one who was going to “change the system”…for good.
And as for the coddled “establishment,” well…our brave friends vowed with a steely determination to “throw the bums out.”
Only now they discover, for all their pure intentions and honest toil, there are more bums in Washington today than at any time in the nation’s history.
The national debt—as discussed in these pages—is the highest it’s ever been. (It topped the $19 trillion mark for the first time earlier this month, to little media coverage. That’s over $58,000 per man, woman and child in the country. Or $160,000 per taxpayer…)
Household debt, too, stands at historic highs…with outstanding credit cards, auto loans, and student loans creeping up alongside mortgage debt.
Meanwhile, labor force participation rates languish at multi-generational lows…
Good folk are struggling just to stay in the same place…never mind actually getting ahead!
Of course, we’re not the only one to notice these trends. In fact, those who haven’t cottoned on may count themselves in a fast-shrinking minority.
Back in 1958, when the American National Election Study first asked folk about the dependability of their federal representatives, 73% of respondents said they could “trust the government just about always or most of the time.”
Today, less than one in five (19%) Americans say they can trust the government in Washington to do what is right “just about always” (3%) or “most of the time” (16%).
Whether you break the numbers down by generation… party affiliation… race… gender…
The story is more or less the same.
Surely there is a better way to affect the change everybody claims to want than by betting on a system that nobody claims to trust?
So, what is it we’re after? Herewith, a few modest proposals…
- To live a more independent life…while still promoting community and cooperation…
- To enjoy the conveniences of modern life…without losing touch with our natural surroundings…
- To live freely…without the shackles of debt…
- To escape the paycheck-to-paycheck rat race…
That’s our agenda…if one could call it that. In short, we want to discover ways to live better…and to share them with anyone who wishes to come along for the journey.
But let’s return to our Dear Reader. Continues “Bob”…
When Nixon went to China, I had stumbled into the communist party bookstore on 15th street in NYC. I was about 16 years old.
The guy behind the counter was probably around 60…
My comment to him about China selling out was met with,
“We have to live in the real world.”
Sir, I’ll pass that along to you. Have a good day.
Ah, here we find some common ground. At least, we think we do.
As mentioned above, it’s the “real world” we’re trying to rediscover. Not the phony world of debts and delusions…of mindless consumption and empty calories…of worthless degrees and empty heads.
Now, some of the information we come across we pass along to you for nothing. Gratis… Nada… Zip… Zilch.
Readers will have noted, for instance, that Truth & Plenty is a free publication; anyone who is not satisfied with the content is entitled to a full refund.
For other research we charge what we consider a modest fee. But there, too, readers are free to come and go, to cancel at any moment, with either a full or pro-rated refund.
In either case—whether free or paid publication—we can’t force reader’s hand. (Nor would we want to!) They either like what we have to offer and stick around…or they don’t. No harm, no foul. And no worries.
That’s the deal.
We like to think of that as “living in the real world,” too.
Finally, your editor is no communist. Neither is he a democrat…or republican. Neither blue nor red. Elephant nor donkey.
He is simply trying to get back to something that is real. Something he remembers from a long time ago.
When we think we find a nugget of truth, we do our best to pass it on…honestly.
As Mark Twain once observed, “If you tell the truth, you don’t need to remember anything.”
And not remembering anything is much easier on the old cerebrum…however developed (or not) it happens to be.
Back to our regular, scheduled programming, next issue.
Image ©iStock.com/James Anderson
Becoming More Independent…Together
Living a more independent life and promoting community may sound like conflicting ideals, but some communities—like the agrihoods—are bridging that gap.
On the surface, agrihoods are simply residential neighborhoods with adjacent farm land, allowing you to grow your own produce and live a comfortable, farm-to-table lifestyle. But many of these neighborhoods—like the Agritopia development in Phoenix, Arizona—are also designed to break down the social barriers between neighbors and create the sense of an old-fashioned, small-town community.
In Agritopia, barriers that isolate people from the neighbors, like large block walls, are discouraged. Instead gardens have white vinyl fences, allowing you to chat with your neighbors from your yard (or watch everything they do, if you’re so inclined). The streets are lined with porches to encourage people to sit outside and pathways connect homes, farms, schools, parks, and commercial areas in order to create the feel of a traditional village.
If the idea of farm-to-table living in a community environment sounds like your dream lifestyle, there’s a 1,797-square-feet, three-bedroom home in Agritopia on sale for $235,000.—Ed