7 martie 2008

Topics for the future campaign for (national) elections: 1. Who’s responsibility? I vs. WE

Let imagine a hard-working individual, confronted with several insurmountable obstacles. Let imagine that he/she tries to overpass these obstacles and get stacked in fighting them, communicate less, develops frustrations, becomes nasty, not sociable, grumbly. At a certain point he/she needs the help of the others, but, since he/she has been grumbly and distant for so much time, gets no support. Many other negative effects may immediately raise, both for the individual as well as for the collectivity…

The question is how to react. Should society help or punish the respective individual? If, let say, he/she severely injures somebody when drives extremely tired, is he/she totally guilty or not?

Of course, there will be many arguments here. The individual should have been carefully in the early age of this story, asking for help, adjusting its aims in order to better cope with the obstacles etc. On the other hand, the collectivity where he/she lives might have been displayed mare care and provide more support since the same beginning of the problems.

Maybe part of the problem comes from the education that society/family gave to the respective individual in the early stages of his/her existence. Maybe, at their turn, the individual’s parents, friends, relatives, teachers, colleagues, neighbors etc. were also suffering from the intended or unintended actions of other people, societies, or misfortunate ideas.

This is, however, a basic question, which answer may allow building upon strategies of prevention and, eventually, intervention when the hazard occurs.

Who is more responsible in this – very simplistically exposed – story? The individual or the collectivity? How big is the share of responsibility for each of the two parts?

I have used this apparently crazy example, to illustrate one of the basic questions that political parties should answer during the election debates. If the collectivity has a large share of responsibility, then it has to be endowed with the resources to institutionally act in a responsible way… This means, for instance, a high level of taxation. More, depending on the representations of majority, this collective accountability may be located at societal level or at community level, with immediate implications for the destination of the collected taxes. At the opposite, if the collective responsibility is very low, taxation has to be very low, and the individual should have he freedom to use own resources and should not expect institutionalized help. (Of course, in order to further simplify the story, in this paragraph I discuss only institutionalized help, not the informal one…)

Therefore: In the public debate, during the election campaigns, I would like to find discussions about the individual vs. community vs. state responsibility. Of course, these might refer basic principles, or might be particularized for a specific topic such as, for instance, providing school instruction…

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