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Worldwide, public trust in government, business at all-time low

By DAVID McHUGH | Associated Press
January 21, 2013

.(AP Photo/Paul White)

.(AP Photo/Paul White)

Public trust in business, government and media leaders has fallen in the wake of financial and political scandals, according to a new global survey.

Heads of financial institutions did particularly poorly, mainly in richer countries that have suffered financial crises and fined banks for, among other things, manipulating markets and facilitating money-laundering.

The 2013 edition of the annual Edelman Trust Barometer found “a very significant crisis of leadership,” said Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Chicago-based public relations firm Edelman. “Leaders are just not seen as leading.”

A big problem is that people think their leaders “just can’t get around to telling them the truth,” he said.

As a result, people are increasingly looking to other sources of information for the straight story about what’s going on, such as academic experts or even their peers through social media and the Internet.

Edelman said one of the glaring results of the annual survey, released ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, was that while 50 percent respondents trusted business in general to do what is right, only 18 percent trusted business leaders to tell the truth — a 32-percentage point gap between the institution itself and the people in charge. Government didn’t look much better, with 41 percent trusting government to do what’s right but only 13 percent believing what

The overall share of people expressing trust in basic institutions rose in the survey from the 2012 edition, to 57 percent from 51 percent, as trust bounced back from the hit it took from the European debt crisis and disputes between President Barack Obama and Republicans in Congress over the U.S. debt limit, which caused the U.S. to losing its top credit rating. Yet while institutions were recovering some lost trust, the view of the leaders of those institutions remained sour.

Edelman suggested that the result may have been influenced by prominent corporate political and financial scandals — the investigation into alleged rigging by big banks of the London Interbank Offered Rate, an important interest rate benchmark, insider trading cases in the United States and Britain, and the scandal surrounding Chinese politician Bo Xilai, who faces trial on corruption charges.

Leaders’ truthfulness score in the survey was “pretty pathetic,” Edelman told the Associated Press in an interview.

The survey measured rising levels of trust for non-government organizations. “The trust is now being placed in an expert, such as an academic, or in a peer — someone, your friends on Facebook, or whoever,” he said. “The crisis of leadership is leading to people having a very different view of who they may listen to.”

The online survey queried 31,000 people in 26 countries, and broke down results between the general population and a smaller sample of university-educated, higher income people dubbed members of the “informed public.” It was conducted Nov. 10-15, so it preceded the many December news stories about whether Obama and Congress would agree on a budget deal to avoid the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ of automatic tax increases and spending cuts on New Year’s day. As it turned out, the two sides agreed on some issues and postponed others for two months.

Among the informed public group, 69 percent viewed an academic or expert as a credible spokesperson, while 61 percent looked to “a person like yourself.” CEOs lagged at 43 percent among this group.

The most trusted business sector was technology, with a 77 percent credibility rate, while banks and financial services trailed with 50 percent — just behind the news media, which polled 53 percent.

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Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.  All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Copyright 2013 Capitol Hill Blue

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6 Responses to Worldwide, public trust in government, business at all-time low

  1. Sandy Price

    January 21, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Outside of Mr. McHugh’s commentary above, the television programs are still looking for the comic punch line. The search for fixes in the budget deficit and the fight over trying to remove the assault weapons out of the hands of the mentally deranged Americans who believe the government agents are lining up to enter our homes to remove our weapons. Something very toxic was introduced to America that our government is waiting to put us all in mental chains of hell.

    Something horrible is driving the Republican voters into an insane belief that we all need to arm ourselves against our own government.

    I personally blame the religious right for their threats that God demands that we destroy our citizens of color when it comes to voting laws.

    I returned to California from a dozen years in Arizona running from arming a civil war against our government only to find California filled with the same fear. I will never aim any gun at another American citizen and I will stand up and saying loudly that this fear of a civil war is only in the minds of the mentally deranged.

    This is the most fearful attitude coming from the religious right and it will never change until we bring back the separation of church and state.

  2. griff6r

    January 21, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    But don’t let that stop any one from voting in the same politicians over and over again.

  3. Sandy Price

    January 21, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    It is up to us to stir up the pot and bring in new blood. The Tea Party did it in 2010 and brought in many new faces in the House. The problem is that our site here is losing members. It is the same problem all over the “net.” Apathy is killing America.

  4. Taylor

    January 21, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    I must disagree with much of what you said about the “religious right.” I have no idea where you could have come up with those assumptions. They are not the views of anyone whom you would deem religious. That being said, the more liberal, or left, people in government have made it very plain that they want to “fundamentally change” America, which many Americans are taking as a threat. They believe they need to arm themselves to protect liberty and the country that they love, if it indeed comes to that. These people are farmers, teachers, accoutants, bankers, social workers, mail clerks and CEO’s, the people that supply our country with food, educate our children, provide valuable services. Its not a group of militants thats arming itself. Its every man, woman, and child that believes in the American Ideal. That has a dream of a brighter future. I just wish more people could see it. I wish our president could see it. I wish the world could see it.

  5. Taylor

    January 21, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    And, separation of Church and State was designed to keep the government out of the Church, not the Church out of the Government. It was to keep our government from impeding on our religious freedom.

  6. Almandine

    January 21, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Yep… need a little more “apathy control”… or is that – apathy safety?