Social Question

saint's avatar

Why are so many people reluctant to blame government for their problems?

Asked by saint (3970 points ) October 19th, 2011

Century after century, governments screw up people’s economic and social lives by taxation, regulation, military adventurism, favoritism, nepotism, corruption, etc.
And yet, people continue to blame their problems on something else-historically, in the West, it has been Jews, immigrants, women , ancestors of slaves, and all sorts of other poor folks who are doing nothing more than trying to live another day.
What is it that makes government so many people’s darling?

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38 Answers

njnyjobs's avatar

Fear of persecution from the inherent police powers of government.

zensky's avatar

Wait, what?

tom_g's avatar

Really?

tom_g's avatar

This is such a ridiculous question (hint: “What is it that makes government so many people’s darling?” requires some explanation. You should demonstrate that this is the case.)

King_Pariah's avatar

*facepalm

rebbel's avatar

You should come and live in the Netherlands…., here, nine out of ten people are blaming and shaming the governments all the time but they’re too well fed and too lazy to take action…, in my opinion.

PhiNotPi's avatar

As far as I can tell, the general populous blames the government (well, actually the opposing party) for a lot of problems. I’m not saying that the government is innocent (which it isn’t), but can we really blame the government for going into debt when people want lower taxes and more benifits?

smilingheart1's avatar

The Green Mile.

YARNLADY's avatar

In the United States, the government is supposed to be us, the people. For those who recognize that they are at fault for not taking a more active part in their own government, it would be foolish to blame “the government”. That would be like Pogo, the cartoon character who says We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us.

janbb's avatar

See, I kind of look at it another way. Far too many people blame the government for their problems.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

Lol. I thought it was the opposite! People are always blaming the government for their problems.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

The government is not the darling of most or many people, it is just not as large a villain as big business. Government waste billions of dollars the taxpayer entrusted them with, and people will want to camp out and rail against big business because some make a billion or more in profit. Wasting 5 times more is better than making excess. People will grumble and complain about government, but they won’t get outraged. Not like the “Wall Street Protest”. I guess in part, Wall Street can’t haul them to jail and fine them hundreds or thousands of dollars for civil disobedience. If Wall Street took advantage of what the GOVERNMENT made available, and it was part of the current economic fiasco. John Q was also a part along with government, and big business, trying to have a house at a certain time at any cost is not the best thing to do. Variable rate mortgages do fluctuate, why do you think the work VERIABLE is in there?

Symbeline's avatar

People blame the government all the time. At least over here, and in many other places, of that I’m sure.
Maybe those who don’t blame the government are people who genuinely trust it, and trust that it’s there to guide and take care of us. Whatever the actual case may be.

HungryGuy's avatar

I don’t know if that’s necessarily a true assumption. Look at the recent rebellion in the middle east. Look at the American revolution. History shows many accounts of people blaming government, when government is to blame.

CaptainHarley's avatar

It’s been said that we get the leadership we deserve. I tend to agree. When you elect a questionable candidate, you get highly questionable goveernment.

hobbitsubculture's avatar

“Whoever had created humanity had left in a major design flaw. It was its tendency to bend at the knees.” -Terry Pratchett

Sure, people are willing to blame aspects of the government. They’ll bitch and moan about the President, the political parties, the corrupt politicians, how it’s all going downhill and we’re becoming socialists. Few people come out and say “The fact that the government exists at all causes misery in my life.” I think it’s a combination of brainwashing (often referred to as “education”) and denial. It’s easier to shut up and pay and your taxes than to open your eyes and see you’re being exploited—and you’re going to be for the rest of your life. People catch glimpses of that reality, then they go and blame the symptoms, not the disease itself.

tom_g's avatar

@hobbitsubculture: “Few people come out and say “The fact that the government exists at all causes misery in my life.” I think it’s a combination of brainwashing (often referred to as “education”) and denial.”

Ok. Try to undo our “education”. Please. Why should we not form a government? And while you’re at it, take a stab at corporate power. If you’re concerned with government, which is at least supposed to be accountable to us because it is made up of us and the people we elect, maybe you can elaborate on how bad private power is. You know – those unaccountable little tyrannies.

ETpro's avatar

@saint This question seems to amply demonstrate the right-wing authoritarian follower’s compartmentalized mind—immune to logical contradictions. When told that belief A conflicts with belief B, the compartmentalized will pull A out of its compartment and check if it jibes with their ideology. If yes, they stuff it away and pull out B. If it asses muster, they will never grasp that they hold directly contradictory views. Both fit what they wish to believe, so there cannot be any contradiction. They are nearly incapable of examining both simultaneously.

You ask why nobody blames government for their problems in the question. In the first sentence after the question, you blame all governments over the centuries for all our problems. All the far-right base of the Republican party agrees with you that government is the root of all evil, and that only by having government solve no problems can we solve our problems. And a whole lot more people, myself included, agree that government screws things up often and causes LOTS of problems.

I would reverse your question and throw it back to you. If the American far right has become convinced that government can do nothing right, and should regulate nothing, do nothing, tax nothing; why don’t you move to Somalia? They already have instituted the ideal system you dream of. There is no government, no taxation, none of the evils of government are there. Why isn’t there a long line of far-right malcontents waiting at the airport for the next flight to Mogadishu and the paradise that unfolds when you just get government out of the way?

mrrich724's avatar

The government uses very good covert propaganda to make you feel that those types of feelings are unpatriotic.

Same thing they do now (the US) with the illegal wars that are a huge hand in ruining the US economy. You don’t support the war? You are not patriotic and perhaps even a terrorist!!!

When the fact of the matter is, the wars are unconstitutional, violate the rights of other nations and our own, and drain millions of dollars a day (18 million/day for Afghanistan) from our coffers.

saint's avatar

@ETpro
What is this right wing authoritarian stuff? People here at Fluther seem to be jumpy when it comes to that sort of thing. It’s just a question. If you don’t like the premise, don’t answer.
If you are talking about me, the last guy who got my presidential vote was a Democrat-and not a right winger at that.
Anyway, I suspect that there is not a long line at Mogadishu airport because they don’t have money for a ticket. Nobody said anything about anarchy. Just mentioned the downside to government and people’s response to it. That and nothing more.

HungryGuy's avatar

Government certainly is the cause of much injustice in the world. I don’t dispute that. As a writer of erotica, government censorship hits close to home. I’m also dismayed at the prohibition of personal private behavior between consenting adults in many aspects of life, such as in recreational drugs, whom you may or may not have sex with, etc. Even in the western world, such as the USA, government interference in private behavior is appalling.

But the recent Great Recession was initially caused by a real estate bubble bursting. The bankers’ “enlightened self interest” screwed everyone else royally. Predatory lending: knowingly giving loans to people who lacked the ability to pay them back. Granted, the borrowers chose to take out those loans, but people need to have a place to live, duh. Then add the corporate welfare of bailing out banks that would would rather lose money by foreclosing and putting people out on the street than by renegotiating. Government can bail out the rich, but those same rich are too greedy and selfish to help the rest of us…preferring to lose money than to appear to be benevolent. No wonder people are pissed at the rich!

If fault can be laid on government for this, it’s for insufficient regulation.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@tom_g Pretending that corporations and governments exist independently is fundamentally flawed. The primary role of government has, since the first empires, been facilitating the extraction of resources for an elite few, mainly by maintaining and often using a monopoly on violence. In the modern industrial capitalist sense, this means the alliance of state and corporate powers (corporatism/fascism), especially in the forms of high ranking people moving through the revolving door between major corporations and major government offices. So just because @hobbitsubculture doesn’t specifically mention corporations doesn’t mean she’s ignoring them, particularly since the question didn’t specifically address corporations as a source of conflict and oppression.

Further, since corporations have an extreme say in things like redistricting, they can functionally control how votes are counted without directly altering votes. Politicians accountable my ass.

@ETpro Your association of government-blaming with right wingers is off base and fictionalized. Stop calling everything you disagree with right-wing. Especially stop using such laughable arguments as “being against government is authoritarian” (seriously, what the fuck?) The long history of anti-government philosophy is almost entirely in the left-wing of the political spectrum (or post-left, as most anarchists are often described today). Not to mention that both parties in this country are just as authoritarian. Also, see above my summary of empires. I’ve already told you in another conversation that Somalia isn’t a valid example of anarchism: it’s functionally “controlled” by foreign corporations, who are the main causes of the violence and chaos. The “pirates” we always hear about are the closest thing to a coast guard they have, the ships they capture are illegally there stealing resources or dumping nuclear waste.

And for everyone, because I have to say this every fucking time anyone talks about anarchy: not having a government isn’t the same as not having rules and order. Societies are capable of self-ordering on the small scale without overarching rulers, and indeed most of our history has been an example of that.

***

Government is but one type of authoritarian hierarchy that subjugates whole populations. But authoritarians in this country (yes, I mean most of you here, whether you admit it or not) hold government in some special regard exempt from blame. Anything to keep the trains working on time, eh? So long as you don’t see what’s inside or how your iPod is made.

tom_g's avatar

@incendiary_dan: “Pretending that corporations and governments exist independently is fundamentally flawed”

yep.

@incendiary_dan: “So just because @hobbitsubculture doesn’t specifically mention corporations doesn’t mean she’s ignoring them, particularly since the question didn’t specifically address corporations as a source of conflict and oppression.”

I suppose. I didn’t read this as an anarcho-syndicalist critique of state capitalism. It smacked of the “you’re all brainwashed idiots for thinking government is awesome” American-style Libertarian nonsense that I am bombarded with. I may have assumed too much. I think the jury is still out.

bkcunningham's avatar

See, @HungryGuy, this is what bothers me. “Granted, the borrowers chose to take out those loans, but people need to have a place to live, duh.” Yes, the borroweres took out those loans. I agree 100 percent. Yes, they need a place to live. I agree another 100 percent. But, if you knowingly go into a home you can’t afford, you have to have some accountability. Don’t you think?

HungryGuy's avatar

@bkcunningham – Yes. I see your point. But when you’re an ordinary person and you’ve been told by a financial professional (who, supposedly, has an accounting degree and a lot of experience in determining what debt load someone can carry) something like, “Based on your salary of X, and your expenses of Y, our calculations and experience with past customers have shown that you can safely make mortgage payments of Z,” and then that turns out to be a lie to make a profit off you and which pretty much destroys your life, I think the banker has the far greater share of accountability. IMO.

bkcunningham's avatar

@HungryGuy, I’ve bought a few houses in my older years. Now is the time to buy, btw, if by the grace of God you an afford it. And I’ve never bought a house using a financial professional. Whatever, or whomever, that is. I’ve used my own licensed real estate agent, who has a state real estate license. Well, actually, in our case we’ve been blessed enough to deal with a real estate broker who has negotiated fees with us.

But anyway, that is how you’d expect it goes. Questions on an application like, oh, I don’t know, Name, Social Security Number, Address, Date of Birth, Spouse, Employer, Current Employment, Job Title, Salary…

Regardless of what the mortagage calculator gurus expertise level is or isn’t. If they tell me I can afford X for a monthly payment, I know daggone good and well if I can or cannot afford that payment. That isn’t too much to expect from a homeowner now, is it?

HungryGuy's avatar

@bkcunningham – I don’t know. I can only speak for myself. Back in the days before the bubble burst, I was once approved for a mortgage for WAY more than I knew I could afford to pay. I bought a house well below the maximum price that I was approved for. But again, I can’t speak for anyone else but myself. Some people are easily duped and/or easily pressured by high-pressure salespeople. That’s why we need consumer protections.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Listen… this government is so distanced from the people it can’t even HEAR them anymore! Why do you suppose the “Occupy” protests are so vehement? Someone knocked over the screen and it’s becoming obvious that there are people other than the ones we elected behind it running things.

bkcunningham's avatar

Did you have a balloon payment structured in your mortgage, @HungryGuy?

HungryGuy's avatar

@bkcunningham – Nope. It was a conventional fixed rate mortgage, no balloon payment. I don’t even own that house any more. It was a townhouse condominium. It was out in the countryside and I hated it (I’m a city boy at heart). And after living there for a couple of years, I realized it was shoddy construction and sold it. I now own a small apartment building in town, also with a fixed rate mortgage.

bkcunningham's avatar

So you just couldn’t afford the payments anymore, @HungryGuy? I don’t won’t to step over the boundary and offend you. Honestly. Forgive me if I have. It just doesn’t make sense to me how you can blame anyone if you couldn’t afford the fixed rate mortgage any longer. God forgive me if you give me a reason that makes me feel ashamed. I’m not judging you. Just trying to understand all of the reasons people lose their homes. :)

HungryGuy's avatar

@bkcunningham – Nope. You didn’t offend me. Like I said above, I knew what I could afford as a monthly payment and so bought a house that I could afford, even though I was approved for a much bigger loan. I sold it because I just didn’t like the house. I thought a condo would be great, being maintenance-free, and it was the first house I ever bought (being a city boy, I rented previously…I love living high in the sky), but I really didn’t like it after living there for a while. Rules how many cars you an have, when and where you can park. At the time, I had 2 cars, and it was really annoying juggling them. And when there’s a snowstorm, the maintenance people pound on your doors and rouse you out of bed to move your car. I HATED living there! And then the constant water leaks from the shoddy plumbing. That’s why I sold it.

Now, being a landlord in a free-standing building. There’s a small parking lot behind the building that I own, and the snow plow people answer to me!

bkcunningham's avatar

Ohh. Okay. Yeah, I hated HOA fees in the city. I guess I just didn’t like living in the city. I’m a country mouse. Nice to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. I hope you didn’t lose your ass on your house. I know lots of people who lost during the recent downturn in the housing market. Some who lost their homes and had to downsize and some who are living with relatives. I also know some who are recouping their losses and are making a living in the buyers’ market too.

HungryGuy's avatar

@bkcunningham – I had to sell it at a loss, selling so soon after buying, and after the bubble burst. I had actually been paying a little extra each month, which softened the blow at closing. So I didn’t lose my ass. I bought the apartment building right after. The seller was desperate, so what I lost on the condo I made up on this one. It’s an older brick building, and is as solid as a rock.

A trusim in real estate is that it doesn’t matter diddly what the market does. When you sell at current market prices, you buy at current market prices. So it all comes out in the wash…

bkcunningham's avatar

I@HungryGuy, good for you. Absolutely right. Buy low and hold, or sell high.

ETpro's avatar

@saint Right-wing authoritarian follower is a term coined by psychologist Dr. Robert Altemeyer of the University of Manitoba. He spent 20 years studying the personality type, and developing tests that detect it. There is a free PDF of his study on the site. It’s not all that long to read, and worth the effort.

I should note that I am not accusing anyone in particular here of being a right-wing authoritarian follower. I just know that, per testing, a large segment of the most dedicated Republican base and Tea Party are right-wing authoritarian followers.

Interestingly, the personality type might more appropriately be simply called authoritarian follower. Whatever political movement in a country adopts authoritarian leadership style attracts to it authoritarian followers. In the former Soviet Union, China and North Korea, the same personality types became Left-wing authoritarian followers. In Fascist Italy and Germany, and in the far right in the US today, authoritarian followers are drawn to the right and its authoritarian style.

@incendiary_dan Looks like I touched a raw nerve with you and you either quit reading or quit understanding what I wrote as soon as that sore spot was rubbed. Thanks for the advice on how I should write in the future, but I will keep my own council on what to call things. And I encourage you to go back and read my entire post. Much of what you complain about are words you put in my mouth. I never wrote them.

As to the American right blaming government and claiming it can do nothing right, you need read no further than the question details from the OP to see that in action. You can refer to Ronald Reagan’s famous, “Government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem.” This sentiment is echoed over and over again in the current Republican debates and cheered wildly by the audience except when it runs afoul of some area cultural conservatives actually want big government intervention in; such as abortion rights, gay marriage, etc. THere, they DO want government at the federal level to step into the most intimate of individual decisions.

I know you are anti-government for very different reasons than the far right, and I know your concerns about the current direction of mankind may be well founded. But in responding to the question, I was taking up the rivalry between Republican and Democratic ideas about government today.

HungryGuy's avatar

@ETpro – Right!

“This sentiment is echoed over and over again in the current Republican debates and cheered wildly by the audience except when it runs afoul of some area cultural conservatives actually want big government intervention in; such as abortion rights, gay marriage, etc. THere, they DO want government at the federal level to step into the most intimate of individual decisions.”

That’s exactly why right-wingers and Tea Baggers are NOT Libertarians!

CaptainHarley's avatar

@HungryGuy

Exactly! Points for you! : D

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