Why do the French distrust government? Perhaps it's the amount they have...

The particular observation here is about trust in vaccines across countries. Large numbers of people don’t think vaccines are safe. In which, of course, they are correct. Getting out of bed in the morning isn’t safe either - and nor is staying in bed. Nothing is safe, it is always relative risk that we should consider. At which point vaccines are vastly safer than non-vaccines.

However, the observation about vaccines maps over something rather more interesting:

France is more sceptical about vaccine safety than any other nation, research suggests. A third of French people disagree that vaccines are safe, according to the Wellcome Global Monitor survey.

This scepticism over vaccinations reflects the public’s comparatively high distrust of politicians, say experts on France’s anti-vaccine movement. The Wellcome study found France had among the highest levels of distrust of government.

Well, why would the French distrust government? This not being something that can just be blamed upon Macron, it’s rather more deep rooted than that. A useful observation is that the French have more government than just about anyone else. We do generally believe that experience matters, that humans learn through their mistakes. Lots of government leads to a certain dissatisfaction with government.

Aiding us in this analysis is the manner in which Eastern Europeans are also deeply dubious about both vaccinations and the merits and value of government. They, of course, having had lots and lots and lots of government from 1945 or so to 1989.

The thing that truly divides us humans from the other animals - in fact it’s a useful definition of intelligence itself - is that we’re able to learn from the mistakes of others. It’s not necessary for us to make our own errors to get the lesson.

Lots of government makes people unhappy with government. The answer being, therefore, to not have lots of government.