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Social Responsibility
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The discussion from the entry yesterday on consumerism brings up a broader point:

To what extent do you act in socially responsibly ways because of intrinsic (i.e., because you give a crap) and extrinsic (i.e. because the law will potentially punish you) factors?

When you're strolling down the sidewalk eating a candy bar, why don't you just throw the wrapper on the ground (or maybe you do...I'm assuming most of you don't)? Let's say in this example that no one is around, that you can see.

Do you not throw it on the ground because:

A) You give a crap what your neighborhood looks like
B) You're afraid you might be fined if there's a cop you didn't see

Of course this factors into virtually all of your behavior on a daily basis, from what you eat to what you buy to what you drive.

The libertarian and idealist streak in me thinks that the more we can govern our own actions and make good decisions, and the less government has to intervene (and they do, to some extent...I realize that), the better society will be.

I'm not against a fine for littering, but I want as few of these laws and regulations as possible.

If we have a society filled with people who buy a big car because they just say, "Ah, fuck slight contribution to pollution and gas consumption won't make any difference", then collectively we're going to be a bunch of gas guzzling, polluting mother fuckers.

A lot of people, and a lot of the people who read this blog, seem to generally argue for new laws to regulate this sort of behavior. I'd suggest that new laws and regulations be a last resort.

In the vein that "all politics are local", I'd say that "society starts with the individual". In other words, before you, individually, call for new laws and regulations to police a particular aspect of society, you might first take stock of how you, individually, are either helping or contributing to the problem.

This same mentality, that a single person doesn't make any difference, is pretty insidious in my book. It's the same attitude that keeps people from voting, "Ah fuck vote won't make a difference". If enough people have that attitude, or the converse, then it obviously makes a huge difference.

Your power to control others' actions through governmental regulation pales in comparison to the power you have to control your own actions. I'd suggest you focus on the latter before preaching for the former.

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