Has American Individualism Failed Society as a Whole?

Mary Newsom questions the current and diminishing lack of public worth in the United States today. " Americans have stopped believing that value is something everyone deserves," she writes.
September 6, 2010, 11am PDT | George Haugh
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In its attempt to produce a purer meritocracy, America has always been a place where one was always more likely to take ownership of their success or failure. This personalization of status that is often down to luck or chance as much as merit has meant "we've stopped valuing workers. The country apparently no longer believes people who work hard deserve wages that pay them enough to afford the rent or a modest mortgage, or deserve a pension to keep them from penury in retirement."

So much emphasis is on success or failure, that what comes between -actual work- has been marginalized. "What we value, instead, is cheapness. Rock-bottom prices. Low taxes. So we get tomatoes that taste like crunchy sponges, but at least we don't pay a lot for them."

"After decades of stagnant wages followed by waves of layoffs, people sense the American middle class is about to founder. When that happens, they'll either be rich enough to join the First Class crowd or dumped in with the losers in coach. And like insecure adolescents, we insult the losers that we fear we might, deep down, already be."

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Published on Friday, August 13, 2010 in Charlotte Observer
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