Individual or Society?

I suspect that my rate of posting will get me banned fairly soon, but here goes.


When I was a child, I used to dread the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s speech each year, as it meant that my scant few hours of entertaining television were reduced. Almost fifty years later, I can see the wisdom of explaining the shared misery, an approach which fit the quiet fatalism of the English.

Moving to the US in the 1970’s, I found an energy and vitality in almost all the people that I met here. However, this energy was always directed towards improving the individual, without consideration of the society as a whole.

After decades of acculturation that personal success is all that matters, and that ‘Americans have the best of everything’, it is a Truth that things are always supposed to go our way. Middle-class Americans that I have known are noticeably upset if anyone points out that things might just possibly be better elsewhere.

This is what prevents us from actually improving education or healthcare. It also explains why President Carter was vilified and quickly replaced by Ronald Reagan, who told the people that they could have reduced taxes, increased defense expenditures, and expanded and cheaper government services (except for the poor, who don’t deserve it).

It also helps to explain the following graph:

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10 comments for “Individual or Society?

  1. May 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    I’m a bit puzzled as to what the post title has to do with the article and I’m rather surprised by that chart. I would have expected the bank bail out to be much bigger than that, or is some of the cost buried under “recovery measures”?

    • derek M
      May 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm

      No, the bank bailout was actually fairly small (below 10% I believe), of the total debt run up by Gordon Brown. He used tha bank crisis to cover up his own failures at the treasury, and the media faild to report the facts fully.

      • May 31, 2011 at 6:43 pm

        Derek M, those are US figures.

        • derek M
          June 1, 2011 at 9:34 am

          Not very clear, but under 10% still applies for this country. As does G Brown’s profligacy!!!

  2. Voice of Reason
    May 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Mark – The figures that I have seen show that much of the first bank bailouts have been paid back (in theory). As for the title, I was trying (apparently badly) to point out that the focus on the individual at the expense of society pushes us to very short-term thinking.

    • June 1, 2011 at 5:30 am

      I don’t see how we could ever not focus on the individual; humans aren’t bees or ants, and we’ve seen where communitarian societies lead us…

  3. May 31, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    I suspect that my rate of posting will get me banned fairly soon

    Not at all 😉

  4. May 31, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    “Middle-class Americans that I have known are noticeably upset if anyone points out that things might just possibly be better elsewhere.

    That seems to apply here as well. Our wonderful health service, best TV in the world, state education always improving…

    Needless to say, in my opinion, it’s all clap trap. Health, latest report shows how bad it is for the elderly and Stafford trust. British TV, I watch Aljazeera and CNN for the news, what is so important about FIFA that the Middle East, Spain , Greece aren’t or are hardly reported? Education, well I’m in a grammar county and I’m paying for private education for my younger (15, 16) kids, nuff said.

    So I don’t think it is anything to do with individual or society. We’ve had too much society and everything is too short term. Bring back Maggie, “no such thing as society”.

    • May 31, 2011 at 6:47 pm

      “We’ve had too much society and everything is too short term.”

      Yup, the idea that rising house prices make us richer is another government sponsored wealth transfer scheme (from ‘society in general’ to favoured individuals) which makes us all poorer in the medium term.

      In £-s-d, the annual transfer is almost as big as public sector sector salaries or the pensions/welfare system. The only thing which dwarfs all three is corporatist spending.

  5. May 31, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Most of the debt emanates from too much spending, much of which goes to duplicate, ineffective government programs. (This point eluded my ex.) In addition, the quantitative easing by the Fed makes the dollar less valuable: it’s declined 12% in the past few months. In America, in 2005, tax revenues rose as a result of the tax reductions.

    And yes, having the ability to hold your own money and spend, save it or give it away is freedom.

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