Americans, not surprisingly, are feeling cynical.
Gallup's just released Honesty and Ethics of Professions poll shows
that for the first time, a majority -- 55 percent -- rate members of
the U.S. House of Representatives low/very low for honesty and
ethics. Senators come in slightly better at 49 percent.
A whopping 9 percent of the house and 11 percent of the Senate get
high/very high ratings in honesty and ethics.
Even members of the clergy do not escape this cynical cloud hanging
over the nation. Although 50 percent rate the clergy as high/very
high in honesty and ethics, this is the lowest since Gallup starting
This prevailing mood of distrust is understandable given how
commonplace it has become for so many in public life to lie to us.
A mountain of hacked emails shows that scientists who held the
public trust regarding information on climate change research were
liars. The emails show they selectively expunged data and suppressed
research not supporting the conclusions they wanted showing man-made
Congress is frenetically trying to pass major health care reform
that report after report shows is filled with politically
manipulated data and conclusions. And now we learn that even Tiger
Woods has been lying to us about whom he is. What is so troubling is
that all this is not about human error or fallibility. It's the
opposite. It's about individuals intentionally manipulating
information to deceive the public in order to advance their own
The late writer/physician Michael Crichton pointed out back in 2003
in a speech he gave at the California Institute of Technology the
common sense being violated in the research allegedly showing that
human activity is causing the earth's climate to irreversibly warm.
"Nobody believes a weather prediction twelve hours ahead. Now we're
asked to believe a prediction that goes 100 years into the future?
And make financial investments based on that prediction? Has
everyone lost their minds?"
Similarly in the health care reform push, simple exercise of common
sense would put the brakes on what is going on.
Before us is proposed massive new government expenditures and
intervention into health care markets under the assumption that the
benefits of all this government activity will exceed the costs.
But simple honesty would recognize that if this were true it would
When Medicare was enacted in 1967, the projections then were that
its annual expenditures by 1990 would be $12 billion. Actual
expenditures in 1990 were $110 billion.
Medicaid started as a proposed modest program with $1 billion in
annual expenditures. It's now $280 billion.
We're told that health care reform won't cost more than $900 billion
over the next 10 years. This is accomplished on paper by sleight of
hand. Taxes are assumed to start in 2010, but expenditures not until
2014. Starting the meter when the expenditures actually begin shows
that over the first ten years the costs are more like $2.5 trillion.
It's not that we no longer know how to conduct honest inquiry in
America. It's that our interest in doing so is disappearing. How can
you search for truth in a society that increasingly denies that
What is adultery when our acceptance of something as basic as the
definition of marriage can change with the political winds? So Tiger
Woods, unhampered by moral constraint, simply pays handlers to
produce a public image calculated to maximize his income.
Our national history began by asserting "self evident truths." Now
we have a president who, in his interpretation of our constitutional
history, writes: "Implicit in its structure, in the very idea of
ordered liberty, was a rejection of absolute truth ..."
It must have been times like this that
George Orwell had in mind
when he wrote:
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is
a revolutionary act."