Last week the Eric Barker, Tyler Cowen, and the Wire wondered whether injustice makes people selfish. This week The New York Times' Gail Collins wonders whether the economy is making people selfish. In particular, she suggests the recession might have something to do with a "cult of selfishness" surrounding terrorist trials. Mayor Bloomberg's balking at the New York City 9/11 trial has got her thinking:
The Bloomberg rebellion fits right into the sour, us-first mood that’s settled over the country. It’s part of the same impulse that caused Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska to decree that a historic overhaul of the country’s messed-up health care system was not going to happen unless his home state got a special exemption from sharing the costs.
Or the Not-in-My-Backyard uprising that followed President Obama’s attempt to move the Guantánamo prisoners into American maximum-security lockups.
It’s all part of a cult of selfishness that decrees it’s fine to throw your body in front of any initiative, no matter how important, if resistance looks more profitable.
The economy has a lot to do with this. So does Washington’s increasing confidence that Barack Obama can be rolled. We’re currently stuck in a place where people no longer feel as though they need to be part of the solution.