We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
On the small scale, these seem to be close to universal in studied American populations. On the large scale, quite rare.
From the WSJ,Why We Lie - We like to believe that a few bad apples spoil the virtuous bunch. But research shows that everyone cheats a little—right up to the point where they lose their sense of integrity:
We want to install locks to stop the next Bernie Madoff, the next Enron, the next steroid-enhanced all-star, the next serial plagiarist, the next self-dealing political miscreant. But locking our doors against the dishonest monsters will not keep them out; they will always cheat their way in. It is the woman down the hallway—the sweet one who could not even carry away your flat-screen TV if she wanted to—who needs to be reminded constantly that, even if the door is open, she cannot just walk in and "borrow" a cup of sugar without asking.
Some of our readers were discussing trust and "trust cultures" the other day, in the comments. I suppose, when I consider the word "trust," I refer to the confidence that a person will not lie (except for white lies), cheat me, steal from me, be unreliable, or try to harm or take advantage of me.
In other words, trust is a gift given to someone that says "I have decided that you will behave reasonably benevolently towards me - or at least not malevolently - regardless of how you may feel about me." That is a big gift, and not lightly given until earned.
As our commenters noted, cultures vary in degrees of trust (as we in the Western world define it), and, of course, different cultures have entirely different expectations of others which would not meet our definition of trust (eg you can "trust" an Istanbul rug dealer to never offer you his best price, even if you are his best friend).
This is related to the VDH article Bird Dog links to above.
Circles of trust expand only gradually. They are earned. Many high-trust societies are homogeneous. That doesn't stop the Swedes from being self-righteous about how tolerant they are, but it pays to notice that they are not even attempting the American experiment of extending trust on the basis of ideas, not tribal relatedness.
Assistant VIllage Idiot
But we now live in a society where trust in the State can not be sustained. Well, other than trusting they are not working in your interests. It is a given, that politicians and their minions are lying. Heck, they are so good, they lie even when they aren't talking.
The SCOTUS ruled that law enforcement is untrustworthy. Actually, they ruled the police can lie to suspects without accountability (enforceable by the person lied to) but since they don't have to reveal you are a suspect you can therefore never trust the police.
When you can't trust those in authority, the damage is much worse as the ability to enforce accountability is weaker against them. It leads to wholesale breakdown of trust in society much faster than some dishonest person on the margins due to the apparent rewarding of being untrustworthy and acceptance by society.
Enron was a viable energy-arbiter. The State of California, media in tow, went after them when Enron called them on trying to set the price-of-energy; consequently, when Enron folded, the price of energy doubled.