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Aside from the visual gags, many of these early films drew their humor from depicting people employed in a government profession as being something other than competent in their jobs, which in real life, was something that nearly everyone believed to be the opposite of what was true. Americans had considerable confidence in their public officials in those days.
A century later, stories of competence on the part of government bureaucrats are the exception and not the rule. That is a major reason why the average of Americans’ confidence ratings of the three branches of the U.S. government is currently tracking near its all-time lows.
As a case in point, just consider the following headlines from just the last two weeks for just the Environmental Protection Agency. Which of these stories gives you the greatest confidence in the ability of EPA officials to protect the environment?
It certainly hasn’t been a good August for the EPA and the reputation of its employees, has it? Then again, perhaps no month is a good one for the troubled agency.
And unlike the misadventures of the Keystone Cops, none of what they do is funny.
Mahoning County, Ohio