Saturday, March 1, 2014

#60 / Individualism In The News

Because I think that we are "all in this together," I am sensitive to evidence that our approach to human problems is ever more "individualistic." 

Thirsty? Let's all drink out of single-serving plastic water bottles. That's a for instance. We know that the proliferation of these individual plastic water bottles, everywhere, has been incredibly damaging to the natural environment, and we know that we could have "collective" solutions to meeting our need to provide drinking water. I actually remember public drinking fountains, but then I am getting to be known as an "old guy." Still, they did work, and didn't kill off our oceans. 

On Tuesday, February 18th, articles in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Santa Cruz Sentinel highlighted a couple of other examples of how we are turning towards "individualistic" solutions to what are really "social" problems. 

In an Opinion Column on the "Google Buses," Michael Barnes, former Mayor of Brisbane, pointed out that what Google is doing, in fact, is "privatizing" what used to be called "public transportation." Not really the best approach, at least in his view: 

People's alienation from each other and from contributing to the common good is an ongoing concern. If corporations would participate in society, in the social contract, maybe that would help break down the personal expectation of entitlement while preserving the quality of life for which everyone comes to the Bay Area.

In the Sentinel, an article celebrating a successful business launched in Santa Cruz, Vogmask, didn't discuss the point, but the article raised the question in my mind. The need for protection against pollutants and bacteria (a real problem) is being approached on an individualistic basis, by way of a "high-fashion, high filtration mask." As in the case of buses and water bottles, there are "collective" solutions that don't seem to be coming to the fore. 

Maybe they should. Clean and pollutant free air should be a "collective" not an "individual" accomplishment. 

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1 comment:

  1. Michael Barnes probably owns a car that fits four. His refusal to pickup any hitchhiker that wants a ride is alienating him from the public and prevents him from contributing to the common good. This is an ongoing concern!

    The reason it's so easy to point out hypocrisy in Michael Barnes's argument is that it comes from fundamentalist egalitarianism.


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