A major reason for the growing distrust of government is the double standard whereby government officials and employees often suffer no consequences from incompetence, misbehavior and even criminal violations of the law. In the common law, there is a general principle that if a person is damaged by the actions of others through negligence or illegal behavior, he or she has a right to redress.

Private companies and their officers and employees are subject to criminal prosecution and civil suits for dissemination of false information about their company and products, or for selling unsafe products. One sees the endless hawking by ambulance-chasing lawyers trying to obtain private plaintiffs to sue drug companies and those involved in accidents. Many of the actions of these lawyers may be unseemly but they do tend to help protect the public.
The actions of government officials and employees are often far more damaging than those in the private sector, but they are protected by “sovereign immunity” and civil service protections. Sovereign immunity is a “legal doctrine by which the sovereign or state cannot commit a legal wrong and is immune from civil suit or criminal prosecution.” It comes from the ancient concept that the “king can do no wrong.” Governments can consent to being sued, and there are many exceptions to “sovereign immunity.” Typically, if a government employee driving a government vehicle on official business is at fault in a traffic accident, the government or its insurance company will pay damages, and the employee would not be protected from a manslaughter conviction in the case of a fatality.