04/13/2017

Decline In Faith For Our Institutions Is A Crisis In America

John Podhoretz, New York Post

In 1962, the baseball veteran Casey Stengel took on the job of manager of the newly minted New York Mets, who were so bad in their first year that he famously asked, “Can’t anybody here play this game?”

Fifty-five years later, Americans can be forgiven for wondering the same this week — except we aren’t talking about a ragtag expansion team made up of players discarded from other ball clubs but about important American institutions ranging from the world’s third-largest airline to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

And this ain’t no game.

The decline of public faith in our institutions — from the media to Congress to banks to the presidency to businesses to places of worship — is among the most serious crises of our time. It breeds cynicism, lack of trust and a general feeling of social and cultural unsteadiness, as though the pillars supporting our way of life are hollow and crumbling.

We need those pillars. But any effort to convince people that they should trust the pillars to bear the weight of a complex and troubled society is not only a fool’s errand, it’s foolhardy.

When America’s leaders act not with discretion and care and seriousness of purpose — as everyone hopes those responsible for maintaining the infrastructure of our civil society would and should — but rather with ass-covering incompetence, why should people trust these leaders to know what they’re doing or have anyone’s best interests at heart other than their own?

Why should they have confidence that anybody knows what he’s doing?

The shocking manhandling of Dr. David Dao on United Airlines Flight 367 was a horrible spectacle — but it was the insulting, Orwellian and craven behavior of United’s chief executive that turned a dreadful incident into a corporate meltdown. At every point in the scandal thus far, Oscar Munoz has responded in a way that degrades what little goodwill any American traveler might have for the airline he has managed since 2015.

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For [early immigrants] America was truly the land of opportunity. For the first time in their lives, many were truly free to pursue their own objectives. That freedom released the human energies which created the United States. There were few government programs to turn to and nobody expected them. But also there were few rules and regulations. There were no licenses, no permits, no red tape to restrict them. They found, in fact, a free market, and most of them thrived on it. 

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