A Lack of Trust

As the world continues to teeter on the edge of crisis, it's worth examing some of the deeper underlying trends.  Over the past few decades, public trust of major institutions has declined across the globe:

The breadth of the social disruption in the United States and around the world leads us away from narrow explanations.

People didn’t drop out of the Methodist Church because of Nixon or the Great Society. Australians didn’t abandon their faith in government because of partisanship in Washington. The Japanese didn’t lose trust because they were watching Rachel Maddow or Fox News.

So what caused it?  Bill Bishop, author of The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-minded Americans is Tearing Us Apart thinks it has to do with the changing expectations of an educated society:
They withdraw from centralized institutions. They challenge authority. They place greater value on their own self-expression than on representative groups.
Whatever the reason, the result is clear:
*Pew has some more great interactive graphics here, which are well worth a good 5 minutes of play.
It certainly seems, though, as another Stag Staff member was always fond of saying that something is deeply awry.  I'm reminded of a quote from Mark Baldarasse, probably the world's foremost expert on the opinions of Californians, discussing how lack of trust in government was an ominous stormcloud a decade ago:
As California approached the threshold of the twenty-first century, it seemed to be entering a golden era.  Confidence in the economy was at an all-time high, and there were even economists who spoke of a different economy, one for which new rules would have to be written.  Yet for the public, there was a dark shadow in that golden glow, something that made Californians less sanguine about the distant future.  That something was largely a distrust of government and a lack of confidence that the government could cope with some of the more formidable primary challenges taking shape for the state.
As the old saying goes, "So goes California, goes the nation.  So goes America, goes the world."  Dear reader, we certainly live in crazy times -- some might even go so far to say that today demands that the social contract be reforged.