By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Trust in people has turned to suspicion

I think about — and sometimes covet — the innate trust my parents’ generation had in people from all walks of life in America. It was borne of a society in which people were more personally connected, and cheaters and crooks more visible.


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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Many from that generation would be easy prey in today’s world of con, crime and scam – at least, until they learned to be suspicious of everything around them in the world.

It’s been a year since my computer was hacked by someone poised to drain funds from family bank accounts. Criminals likely still can access my personal information for fraudulent purposes, but actually I join tens of millions of American in that club.

Last month, a formal letter announced acceptance of a retail credit card I didn’t request, if I would call to confirm the information submitted. I called, but only to say it either was outright internal fraud or an acceptance of stolen information to use in their marketing plan.

Perhaps the greatest concern is how fraud has permeated our society.

Two years ago, the Insurance Information Institute estimated $30 billion in annual fraud involving property-casualty and auto insurance. “One of those fraudsters,” said an agent with the industry crime bureau, “may be you.”

People often inflate the value of fire-damaged items, or add an old dent to a minor auto accident claim. Those small acts, justified because “I’m paying all those premiums,” add up to billions of fraud dollars subsidized by all of us.

In 2018, the Better Business Bureau reported the “exploding epidemic” of fake check scams, with complaints to regulatory agencies doubling over three years. One version, of many, involves duping people to accept high-paying jobs that require no experience, followed by a fake cashier’s check that tricks victims into returning a portion of the money to the “employer.”

Consider last year’s infamous college admissions scandal, revealing widespread corruption in efforts to obtain lucrative scholarships and degrees from prestigious schools. The dishonesty ranged from cheating on college tests to bribery of coaches for sports scholarships, with many levels of buying undeserved college admissions.

In 2019, reported a 300 percent increase in identity theft attacks from “rogue mobile applications” for computers and cell phones – more than 41,000 in the first quarter alone. We thus learn terms such as phishing, Trojan horses, malware and brand abuse.

Too bad suspicion, not trust, is the defining characteristic of recent generations.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


Don Dix

Jeb -- we both know that our folks and many of their generation were honest, trustworthy citizens. Instead of today's daily telemarketing barrage from strangers afar, business was conducted person to person. Contracts were signed, just as today, but the personal contact is missing.

When business of yesteryear was being discussed, one had ample opportunity to find true sincerity -- in the voice -- in the explanation -- and most importantly, in the eyes.

And when discussions were complete, with agreement on terms, the signatures in place, a contract was born. But the one thing missing from today's agreements is the most meaningful final bond -- the simple handshake. Yesterday it meant something, today, not so much!

Christmas has Talons

Don, the handshake is forever more a thing of the past it's just another snag in the tiny shred of the fabric we have left of our society. Kids are so disconnected and unable to adequately communicate because of social media platforms and texting that they are finding it difficult to manage themselves in social settings and situations. It's sad and part of the reasons I'll have work in my office lined up eight months out.

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