A basic mistrust

The way things are now, if we don’t have a relative who runs a gas station, we will continue to pay unleaded prices for super-category gasoline. And, judging by press reports and the mutterings of state officials who are supposed to avert profiteering, this is the way things are going to stay. Television reports have been covering the scam in detail, with experts telling us about double pumps and fixed meters and warning us to keep our wits about us. The protagonists of this racket appear to belong to a world of unchecked illegality and almost contagious deception, where one thief steals from another and where we must be suspicious of everyone. Evidently, neither reforms nor fines are adequate to tackle such a situation; neither is general mistrust. Once upon a time, we would give our fellow citizen the benefit of the doubt. This fundamental principle would allow us to go to bars and restaurants freely without the fear of being poisoned, to send our children to school without the fear of their being neglected by incompetent or overworked teachers, and to fill up our car engines at any gas station we please, and not that of our cousin in the village. But it seems that more and more of us are losing our faith and that social cohesion has become something to strive after rather than to depend upon.