Comments: How Countries Die

At some point we went from government being a part of the community to government thinking that it itself was the community.

At some point we went from "everything not forbidden is permitted" to "everything not permitted is forbidden" and things went bad from there.

Right about the time we invented "liability."

Posted by Ahistoricality at April 11, 2009 07:32 PM

Your post mentions individuals banding together for a common purpose. In contrast, it's the Kauai business community which realizes that it's in their own interest to contribute to the good of the community. Native Hawaiians could live without the bridge, but the businesses would have gone bankrupt. This is a great example for why businesses, small and large, should be required to pay their fair share of taxes. To the government.

Posted by Liz at April 20, 2009 08:55 AM

At some point we went from government being a part of the community to government thinking that it itself was the community.

It was just about the time we, the People, ceased to be regarded by the Owners as Citizens and became mere consumers.

Posted by Woody at April 20, 2009 01:27 PM

You may be right, Ahistoricality. But more than the concept of "liability" it was the get-rich-quick mentality that really hurt us. When people started viewing lawsuits as a way to retire young (and rich).

But my honest opinion is that the root of the rot is the concept of a "corporation" as a "person."

Posted by Anne at April 24, 2009 10:00 AM

You're right as well, Woody.

But I sometimes wonder if this isn't a chicken-and-egg question. Did we become mere consumers because we began to abdicate our responsibility as citizens, or did we give up trying to be citizens because the government thought of us as mere consumers?

Posted by Anne at April 24, 2009 10:02 AM

I don't disagree, Liz, but at the lowest levels, when you're talking about small, local businesses, I believe there is little difference between business and individual.

I'm not saying that a business is a person or a citizen. More than at the community level, a small business wholly owned locally is intimately entertwined with the health and well-being of the community--the way no branch of a mega-multi-national corporation like Wal-Mart can ever be.

When a business is small enough that it lives and dies by the life of a community, the way the individuals in that community do, then the difference between "business" and "individual" is very slight.

I don't know what companies are the major employers in the community under discussion, of course.

Posted by Anne at April 24, 2009 10:06 AM