Friday, June 20, 2008


picked this up from a post to Henwood's Left Business Observer mailing's the newest data set from Gallup re: citizen "confidence" in various institutions. Follow the link for more detailed numbers, but here's the bottom line:

In the latest update, Congress ranks just below HMOs, for whom 13% of Americans express "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence. Big business, the criminal justice system, organized labor, newspapers, television news, and the presidency all receive relatively low confidence ratings.

In contrast, Americans express the most confidence in the military, as they have each year since 1988 (with the exception of 1997, when small business edged it out). Small business ranks second in the current poll, just ahead of the police. These are the only three institutions that for whom a majority of Americans express a high degree of confidence.

From 1973 through 1985, organized religion was the top rated institution. Today, just 48% of Americans are confident in organized religion, one of its lowest ratings ever.
Small Business, the Police, the White House, Organized Religion and the Television News all soundly whupped organized labor's ass on this one. Fun, huh? Where the fuck do we live? I wonder how high the cast of Top Chef would've scored?


dave3544 said...

How do we fix this? What is the source of non-confidence in organized labor? I'm sure we have polling data on we believe the polling data or do we believe that the working folk are experiencing the false consciousness?

I have no idea what the "answers" are. The only stat I hear out of Big Labor is 85% of American workers would join a union if they had the chance.

These two datums would seem to be in conflict.

Maybe Wobs could make this a Sat5 wherein we offer our top five suggestions for restoring confidence in organized labor.

wobblie said...

If I had to guess, I'd attribute the lack of confidence to 1) 30+ years of union-busting propaganda, 2) the media fluffing of union corruption cases when they do pop up, and 3) labors inability to cope with the job losses and erosion of wages and benefits that came with deindustrialization.

dr said...

I want to know why people have so much confidence in cops.

lexdexter said...

i don't think we can take that kind of polling too seriously. i don't know how seriously

after all, it doesn't really matter whether people like unions "in general," no? what matters is whether or not particular people in particular places want to join a union RIGHT NOW, no? that may be overstating the case, but...?

sure, it'd be nice to see the Union Brand trending a little better... but what does the generalized cynicism of the results even mean?

has our nearly national unanimity around Congress being filled with douchebags produced any action outta the Congress? is anybody talking about reforming the legislature or otherwise taking apart the political process? for these answers and more i turn to you, N'uncle.

meanwhile, i completely agree with a Saturday 5 about restoring confidence in the labor movement. if our small sect all weighed in on that, we'd pretty much merit a Special Issue of Labor Notes (the karaoke issue).

lexdexter said...

wow, there's some great run-off sentencing in my last comment. sorry chaps!

sorry, Friday morning grievance organizing has become a sometime-necessity here in 97405.

wobblie said...

I think lex is right about taking the numbers with a grain of salt. Congress never gets high approval ratings, but constituents always love their particular Congresscritter.

I'm not surprised by people expressing confidence in the cops. I get the feeling that your average Murican reacts to police abuse with a blame-the-victim rationale.

dave3544 said...

Mega dittoes to everything said, but I think we let ourselves off a bit easy if we don't find some fault with labor resulting in these results (which I take with just as much salt as the 85% figure I mentioned earlier. Ummmm...salty.) We've all had enough conversations with people in unions who dislike unions to believe that everything is hunky-dory.

I will begin preparing my Sat5 now, whenever Wobs drops it on us.

wobblie said...

Well, I think #3 in my first comment is finding some fault with labor - the structural changes aren't the fault of labor, but the failure to recognize the changes and act (rather than, say, believing that the post-war labor-management accord would continue to be honored) certainly didn't do any good. I imagine there's a litany of items we could list under that broad rubric of "inability to cope."

dave3544 said...

Wobs: I have the suspicion that our "5" lists will be very different.

wobblie said...

Vive la difference!

dr said...

I'm not sure that I'm willing to go along with this:

it doesn't really matter whether people like unions "in general," no? what matters is whether or not particular people in particular places want to join a union RIGHT NOW, no?

...though Dave's "We've all had enough conversations with people in unions who dislike unions to believe that everything is hunky-dory" matches my experience, so I can see where you're coming from.

My concern is that a generalized distrust of unions makes it easier for the boss to use the power of the state against the union.

Anonymous said...

I still can't quite wrap my mind over the fact that the television news poll is significantely lower than the broader topics like the military and police force. Its telling that most Americans don't want to admit that the television media that makes its profound imprint on most of our lives is quickly brushed aside in a poll. We must ask ourselves why we are so infatuated with war and the police (hint) what are most of those television news reports covering??