Americans Don’t Trust Congress


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)