A Gallup Poll conducted in early December reveals that among 22 professions, lobbyists and members of Congress rank below even car salespeople in terms of honesty and ethical standards. For years, American popular culture has used the term “used car salesman” to describe individuals of dubious character, probably why Gallup uses that profession in its polling – as a benchmark by which to measure the others.
True to their reputation (however accurate or not), car salespeople finished lowest on the list, except for members of the United States Congress, and the lobbyists who interact with them.
The Gallup respondents thought only 6% of lobbyists and only 8% of Congresspersons had high standards in terms of honesty and ethics. State politicians fared slightly better at 14%, and local office holders at 23%, indicating that the higher the office, the more dishonest the voters deem the officeholder to be.
Attorneys, also often the objects of jokes about their crookedness, fared somewhat better than their Capitol Hill counterparts, with 20% of respondents giving them high marks. But the ultimate arbiters of the law, the judges, did much better, garnering 45%.
In the health care industry, doctors earned 69% high marks, and pharmacists one point better – 70%. Nurses did the best: at 82%, they finished with the highest marks among all 22 professions in the poll.
Members of law enforcement did reasonably well – at least as compared to other professions – earning high marks from 54% of respondents. Their counterparts in the military did even better, amassing 69%.
Members of the press achieved low marks overall, with newspaper reporters edging broadcast journalists, 21 to 20 percent overall in terms of high grades for honesty and ethics. Clergy also scored below average, at 47%, a record low for that profession since Gallup began this particular poll in 1977.
The financial industry also took its lumps, as only 27% gave bankers high marks, and even fewer, 22%, rated business executives highly.
Advertisers, which transcend numerous industries, also managed very low marks; only 14% of respondents gave them high scores. Apparently, the billions that pour into commercials often fall on skeptical if not deaf ears.
One bright spot is that we Americans think our children are being well-taught, at least early on: grade school teachers earned a very respectable 70%, finishing second only to nurses. But in terms of day care and home care, the numbers were not nearly as
high. Day care professionals earned only 44% high marks, and nursing home operators only 32%.
The remaining profession on the list is auto mechanics which, by gaining high marks among only 22% of Gallup’s respondents, cause some Americans to choose a mechanic even more carefully than they might choose a surgeon!
The American people, as revealed through this poll, reflect President Lincoln’s sentiment that, “You can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” These poll results may be a wake-up call to professional liars and crooks: people aren’t as gullible as you think they are.
Hopefully, our elected officials in Washington are listening, because the folks who put them in office seem to think that while visiting the nation’s capital, they are more likely to be told the truth on a used car lot than in the halls of Congress.
(Constantinos E. Scaros)