When Gallup published a poll on March 8 saying, for the fourth month in a row, that more respondents (18 percent) listed “government” as the nation’s worst problem, beating out “the economy” (11 percent) and “unemployment” (10 percent), it seemed a trend might be developing.

“While dissatisfaction with government is by no means a new issue to the American people, it has not in recent months been as clearly the leading problem as it is now, given that fewer Americans mention the economy,” Gallup’s Justin McCarthy wrote.

As an aside, Gallup’s open-ended survey listed every issue mentioned by at least 3 percent of its respondents.

So, what topic of fascination to the chattering classes didn’t make its 14-item list?

OK, you with the icicle on your nose, you’re right: Global warming (aka “CO2-caused climate change”) wasn’t even mentioned, just as it is routinely left off (or appears at the bottom) of other pollsters’ surveys of citizen concerns.

If government tells us something’s important, but its heralds are frequently unreliable, no wonder its warnings aren’t taken seriously.

It’s tempting to say that our present leaders’ long litany of broken promises and outright abuses – I listed several of them a few weeks ago, and see no need to reprise that sad record here – has led to the present disillusionment.

But that would be – well, not unfair – but incomplete, as this has been developing for decades.

The genius of the American experiment was that, at a time when all power rested with governments and the elites who ran them, the Founders put not only the levers of political power, but of economic and social sectors, too, in the hands of the individual citizen, figuring the prosperity of the many would provide aid to the few who needed it.

Now, after generations of government growth going back through many administrations, we have nearly 50 million people on welfare and the roles of “the few” and “the many” are reversed. No society can survive that for long, as our $18 trillion in debt and our fast-emptying Social Security and Medicare accounts are showing us. Après nous, le déluge.

Yes, government should be trustworthy. But it is an inefficient beast at best, and downright dangerous when it slips its leash. Let it do the limited number of things proper to it, and leave the rest (education, pensions, health care coverage – and even threats to regulate hotel showers and barbecue grills) to 315 million talented, competent Americans to handle (once taxes are cut enough to let them regain control of the resources they need to sort things out).

I think the reason that nanny-state elitists don’t want us to have that much freedom isn’t because they don’t think we can handle it, but because they are afraid we can – and then they will lose the power and control they covet the most.

Finally, it shouldn’t be a surprise that when government isn’t trusted, the news source that reports most accurately on its problems soars in trust.

On March 9, a Quinnipiac University poll reported that “Fox News offers the most trusted network and cable news coverage, 29 percent of American voters say.”

The next day, the Real Clear Politics website noted that, “As impressive of an accomplishment as this is for Fox, what’s most striking about (the results) is the utter collapse of public trust in the networks. Only one in 10 Americans now trust the news coverage of any of the “Big Three” (CBS, ABC and NBC), and if you add them all together they still don’t reach 30 percent of the total audience. It’s hard to overstate what a radical shift that represents in the television news landscape.”

Whenever I cite a Fox News story, I get emails sneering at me for trusting “Faux News” and deriding my severely deficient IQ.

But apparently I’m not remotely alone in thinking Fox’s news shows (separate from its evening opinion lineup) are building trust across the nation, at least among Republicans and independents (Democrats still shun Fox like it spread ebola, Quinnipiac noted).

I confirmed Fox’s advantage recently, at least to my own satisfaction, when Fox and Dish were fighting over fees and forced me to default to the “Big Three” for my news fix.

I was shocked at how shallow they were compared to my regular viewing. The 6 p.m. Fox News Hour treats issues in depth, even offering a panel of experts with varying viewpoints to dissect them. The nets barely skim the surface in their rush to pack pounds of news into 1-ounce packets.

When I complained to Dish, it bribed me rather heavily to stay, but I won’t be as patient the next time.

You like other networks? Fine, enjoy your tofurkey. I’ll take a nice, thick, juicy steak. Every time.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

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