Socialism and individualism — and snow

I was looking out my second-floor window today, looking down at the trucks with blades clearing off the parking lot, and, out the windows on the opposite side of the house, at the trucks clearing the roads.

The city or state clears the roads. If you live in a condominium or apartment complex, probably the management clears the driveways and main access lanes of your parking lot. But chance are, if your car is out in the open, you have to do your own shoveling to get your car clear. If your car is in a garage, chances are you have to shovel to clear the area between the garage and the cleared lanes. And, of course, if you have live in a detached house, nobody is going to clean your driveway but you or someone you pay.

Isn’t that a capsule summary of the division of responsibility between governments and individuals?

Individuals working as individuals couldn’t clean the roads, so what use would their cars be to them? But governments couldn’t clean off everybody’s car or shovel out everybody’s driveway, unless they expanded their workforce by about a hundredfold. (More, probably.)

As in so many seemingly intractable political disputes, the answer is that both poles are somewhat right, until they get carried away to think that their end is the only end.

No government could do everything for us, and we wouldn’t want it to. But individuals in society can’t do everything for themselves without organized civic effort (known as government). Individuals as individuals don’t fight fires, repair downed power lines, provide emergency medical treatment, etc., etc. Individuals accomplish those things by working as part of a team, be it government, for-profit corporation, public utility, or non-profit.

Probably we would do better to remember that there’s something to be said for all parts of the ideological and political spectra, rather than thinking we are holding a stick that has only one end.

Be grateful for the organized efforts that make our lives go as smoothly as they do. Continue to do for yourself what you can. Stay warm.

2 thoughts on “Socialism and individualism — and snow

  1. Frank,
    I agree with you. But what is really hurting us is the shadow aspect of this system- Greed. Now work is all about getting money and more money not doing a job well and so prices escalate and quality de escalates. We are witnessing a greed of epidemic proportions in both parties. I believe as Bernie we need to get money out of the political game and regulate campaign finance and one day maybe even pork barreling will be touched…maybe

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