Trusting the government

In the northeast section of Hyde Park in London, England, is a place known as the Speakers’ Corner. The park was established by Henry VIII in 1536 when he took the land from Westminster Abbey and used it as a hunting ground. It opened to the public in 1637.

A “Speakers’ Corner” is an area where open-air public speaking, debate, and discussion are allowed, and this one in Hyde Park is the most famous. In 1855, riots broke out in this area as protestors gathered in opposition to the “Sunday Trading Bill,” which forbade buying and selling on a Sunday, the only day off for working people.

Yet, there have always been limits to free speech. Police arrested individuals at the Hyde Park’s Speakers’ Corner for profanity. We are told that all free speech must be limited to certain spaces and “hate speech” is not acceptable. The problem is that “hate speech” can be talking in public about ideas that someone else “hates.” The definition of “speech” has become very fluid as has the definition of the word “free.”

We are told that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” But the lines are extremely blurred. Currently, protestors in Hong Kong are apparently fighting for democracy and self determination. Currently, protestors in Barcelona are fighting for democracy and Catalan’s self determination. Strangely—or maybe not so strange—is that in the view of several Western governments, Hongkongers are “freedom fighters” and Catalonians are “terrorists.”

I wrote a couple of weeks ago that there is a rising phenomenon of protests around the world that is increasing in intensity. Some dismissed this as nonsense, along the lines that there have always been protests. Not exactly. Last week, Chile erupted in riots of such power that their subway system may take years to reopen. It is the most modern in South America and runs for 140 kilometers. More than 40 of its 136 stations were virtually destroyed. And all this was over an increase in fares this year of about three US cents. Chile has a gross domestic product per capita of $15,000. By comparison, the Philippine GDP per capita is $3,000.

The pundits and other experts categorize this as part of a “populist” movement, “referring to a range of political stances that emphasize the idea of “the people” rather than the elite.” Underlying that idea is that soon “the people” will come to their senses and admit the errors of their ways. You hear that from local commentators who are very unhappy with the Hong Kong protestors and how they are ruining their local economy.

It is much more than this idea that liberal and left-wing politicians/groups like to push about “rich versus poor.” And it is much more dangerous than economic class warfare.

We are witnessing a near-global situation of a breakdown of trust in government. Forget about the nonsense “approval” ratings. I do not expect or even want my family to “approve” of my decisions. But I need them to trust that I am making what I firmly believe are the best decisions for everyone.

You may not approve of the Duterte administration. But when 85 percent have “Big Trust” and only 4 percent have “Small/No Trust,” that is a positive for the nation. And, interestingly enough, China, India, and the Philippines have the highest trust in government. The United Kingdom, the US, France and Spain all come in at 30+ percent.


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