Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rebranding America

The rock musician and do-gooder Bono had an op-ed piece in the NY Times recently, called "Rebranding America," and today's Times has reader responses in the Letters to the Editor. One reader says the following, in part:
What distinguishes the American Idea from the superstitions, stifling traditions and the various forms of collectivism that have historically cursed humanity is its confidence in individual freedom. Without that freedom, opportunity is a mirage and “responsibility to your fellow man” is simply a slogan used to justify harnessing the populace to serve those in power.
Another says, in part:
Yes, we have the freedoms of choice and speech, but we are an individualistic and self-sufficient people. We believe that people should take care of themselves and carry their own water.

I’m not responsible for my fellow man. The fellow man should take care of himself, and so on.
I'm sure these fellow citizens, who so value individualism and dislike collectivism, will turn down Social Security and Medicare at age 65, aren't you? After all, people should take care of themselves.


saintrussell said...

Those who are opposed to Medicare and Social Security aren't allowed to opt out when it comes to paying taxes. Wouldn't it be hypocritical to expect them to forgo the benefits?

Paul H. Muller said...

The most successful societies in the world today have bigger government, higher taxes and less reliance on the individual.

To esteem individual responsibility ahead of the common good is to forfeit all the advanteges that accrue from collective action thus limiting such a culture to permanent second-class status.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Russell, I would absolutely never expect anyone to forgo Medicare and Social Security - I just think that Americans' independence from each other is wildly overstated and socially harmful. We are all interdependent, whether we like it or not.

Paul, yes. A friend of mine just wrote about a relative of her husband's who is comfortably retired with a good pension and Social Security. This person hates unions even though his or her pension was negotiated by the union to which s/he used to belong. sheesh.