This article is a fucking punch in the gut. It perfectly encapsulates my fears about American society.
Literally nobody on planet earth wants worse lives excepts us. We’re the only people on earth who thwart our own social progress, over and over again — and cheer about it.
It’s like a good many people in America have fully embraced the Slim Shady persona: fuck everybody, fuck you, fuck me, who gives a fuck.
People who are battling for self-preservation can’t take care of anyone else. If I ask the average Brit or American to consider paying for their society’s healthcare, education, elderly care, childcare, increasingly, the answer is: LOL. In America, it always has been. Why is that? The reason couldn’t be simpler. People can’t even take care of themselves and their own. How can they take care of anyone else — let alone everyone else?
This self-preservation point is an important one. So many Americans are just one medical emergency away from total financial ruin. So many are working multiple jobs in order to make ends meet. So yeah, it makes sense that asking people to not just help themselves, but to help one another, can seem like a ridiculous proposition.
Hyper individualism has always been a part of American society. If you are successful, it’s clearly because you’ve worked hard and pulled yourself up by your bootstraps. If you’re impoverished, in poor health, or can’t get ahead, well then it’s clearly because you’ve done something wrong. It’s such an incredibly wrongheaded perspective, but yet so many believe it.
I don’t know if we’re in a “death spiral” as the author claims, but whatever we’re in, it’s not a healthy place. And I don’t know what it takes to snap people out of it. To help them understand that it’s actually a Good Thing to have a functioning society, a social safety net, not having to worry about medical bankruptcy, and not having to worry about getting gunned down simply by going to the store. It’s hard to be super optimistic, but I also don’t think it’s impossible to correct course.