Why libertarians should want *more* trust in government

According to Gallup and most other other polling organizations, Americans have record or near-record low rates of confidence in government.

Just 39 percent of us approved of Donald Trump’s performance in his second quarter as president, almost 25 points off the historical average. A mere 36 percent have a lot of faith in publis schools. Only slightly more than a quarter of us trust the criminal justice system and just 12 percent of us say we have a “great deal of” or “quite a lot of” confidence in Congress. Trust in most major institutions is lower than it was a decade ago.

A lot of libertarians and other skeptics of government see this trend and believe that people are finally waking up to reality. But there are good reasons to be concerned about persistently low levels of trust and confidence in government.

Researchers routinely find that “people in countries with bad governments want more government intervention” in all aspects of their lives, even though they don’t trust the government to be fair or effective. One 2010 study found that 82 percent of former East Germans and 92 percent of Russians–two famously “low-trust” populations–favored wage controls. Residents in Scandinavia and North America–which are “high trust” regions–were far more trusting of market forces.