Like a lot of teenagers, I read Anne Frank’s diary as a teenager, and what stuck with me was this idealistic quote:
in spite of everything I still believe that people are basically good at heart
Recently, I was thinking about that, and that maybe it’s not true. But, you know, I didn’t want to disrespect the memory of Anne Frank, or of all the teachers who influenced me and held that diary up as an important work to teach values to their students.
Then I heard about Amanda Todd (via Jeff Jarvis). A teenage girl who died because people were basically awful. So, I don’t think Anne Frank has the last word on this any more.
Most of the time, people are basically good, and you can expect them to be. But sometimes, they’re not. And it’s important to remember that.
It’s a mistake to conflate size with evilness and blame everything on “corporations.”
When people complain that mandated health care is bad for small business, no one points out that what they’re really saying is “I’d rather keep my profits than give my employees health care like a larger business would.” No one is complaining about small independent mortgage brokers who pushed through bad deals while flying under the radar of any attempt at corporate responsibility. No one complains about nonprofits who think their good works are an excuse for exploiting employees and cheating vendors.
Not that all (or even most) people and organizations in the above categories are to blame. But the ones that are, are certainly happy to see you blame “corporations.”
I think the problem is the way things like government debt or “socialized medicine” get talked about public debate now as if they’re axiomatically bad, instead of inherently bad things like intolerance, sickness, or war, that government policy is after all a tool to prevent.
In a nation of 300 million people, you can’t simply blame the fact that there are institutions large enough to feed, employ, and serve lots of us. It is going to take some really big farms, and really big banks. Something is wrong with the state of the social contract, if we ever had one, I’ll admit: you should be able to go to school, play by the rules, and not get tossed aside. But while some big organizations and their leaders are part of the problem, we also shouldn’t toss aside people and organizations that can be part of the solution. And we need big solutions.