The federal government has been losing popularity for years when it pertains to political dissatisfaction, but now Americans are angry at the government from a whole new perspective: They aren’t doing a good job catering to customers. That’s the finding of a new poll from the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which asks people every year what they think about the biggest names in industry. This year, the federal government joined businesses like internet service providers and cable TV companies at the bottom of the list.
This is the lowest satisfaction rating the federal government has received in eight years.
“Satisfaction is linked to broader goals in the political system that it wants to maximize, like confidence and trust,” said Forrest Morgeson of the ACSI. “It’s much more difficult to govern if the entire population dislikes you.”
Some federal agencies fared better than others. Most Americans are pleased with the Department of the Interior, for instance. To no one’s surprise, the Treasury Department was the lowest-ranked of the agencies. “If you think about the most contacted government agency, it’ll be the IRS,” Morgeson said. “If you think about what the IRS does, which is take money from citizens, you’ll have low satisfaction.”
Eh, that’s an unfair simplification. Americans are never going to embrace the taxman, but the IRS has done plenty to earn that hatred over the past few years. Customer service has dropped; many customers have almost no shot of getting a representative on the phone to help them with questions. Put that together with the IRS’s blatant political targeting of Tea Party groups and the subsequent coverup…well, there’s a lot more here than sour grapes.
A change in presidents won’t necessarily mean Americans suddenly love the federal government again, of course. And for millions of people, the more the government does to earn that love, the worse off we’ll all be.
But isn’t that just the point? If we cut this government down to size, we’d have more money to put into agencies and services that really matter to the American people. Sure, we can dump billions into free college schemes and other vaguely-disguised forms of welfare. Sure, that will make millions of people declare their undying love for the federal government. No, that’s not the direction we should be headed. Once we slash the hell out of entitlements and let the free market reign where appropriate, we can put more government funds toward making essential services much more efficient.
Alas, we seem to be doing just the opposite.