Americans Don't Trust The Government: Find Out Why
Every year, Chapman University surveys the American public about what their biggest fears are. With the options including things like credit card fraud, terrorist attacks, and running out of money, there’s a whole lot of fear to quantify. But this year, the biggest American fear seemed particularly poignant: apparently, we’re the most afraid of “Corruption of Government Officials.” In effect, this survey is telling us that Americans don’t really trust our government, which is pretty sad for a country that calls itself “the home of the free.” But really, why should we trust the American government?
We live in a country where innocent bystanders killed by drones are posthumously declared “enemies” by the government, where a 12 year-old can be murdered by the police and it’s deemed “reasonable”, and the government will knowingly bomb hospitals. And what may be worse about our government — other than the whole “seems pretty willing to murder people” — is that they’ve created ways to hide this information.
As police brutality dominates our headlines, the government can’t even tell us how many people were shot by police in 2014. Why? Because police departments don’t need to tell the FBI how many civilians they’ve killed. The FBI asks for the data of course, but there’s nothing in place to make the police departments give it to them. So they just don’t. Only 224 of our country’s almost 18,000 police departments reported their data to the federal government last year.
But perhaps in a move towards actual transparency, the US Department of Justice is trialing a new open source system to count homicides by law enforcement agents. The new trial is similar to The Guardian’s The Counted Project, which is currently tracking deaths caused by police — it’s at 912 at press time. But is it enough? The government is already what Americans are afraid of. Who knows if they can be the one to repair the trust?
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Photos via the New York Post and Chapman University