So here’s a thing that happens to me regularly. It’s in the same family as that vote with your dollars response that I love SO much. It goes like this. There is a structural problem. It’s absolutely clear that the problem is a larger issue affecting everyone, and not the result of individual choice. You propose a structural solution (pooling risk for health care, regulating the economy to prevent predation and housing bubbles, unionizing, banding together in other ways, such as consumption habits, to effect change, you get the idea). INEVITABLY, someone will say, okay, but instead you can just do THIS as an individual, problem solved.
So, for example, if I think that ebooks as a sea change to the fundamental identity of what a book is and who can control its content is a problem, and I have historical examples to prove that democracy itself is tied to not having the information in the hands of a single person, there is always that guy who will say, well this isn’t actually a problem because everyone can download that software that undoes DRM, and then everything will be hunky dory again. Also, this thing where all the books are encoded, and then every individual consumer must decode every individual book, risking prosecution each time she does, is somehow a totally acceptable solution, despite its wonky, work-around, digtheholenowfillinthehole quality, whereas, say, not buying ebooks, or asking that those who publish them be regulated or reigned in in some way is….not.
So what you’ve got is a group of people who refuse to see that they are a group, and who would, if presented with a simple option for averting the zombie apocalypse (stop buying from zombiecorp, and have the government outlaw their lil’ zombie pet product that’s so popular with all the kids these days), will refuse it on the grounds of “freedom”, opting instead to stock up on guns and canned goods, build a bomb shelter, and mercilessly mock anyone who does not do the same.
This is not rational. This is also not freedom.
And in a way, I would even find it cute, that relentless individualism that flies in the face of all evidence, I would find it cute the way it’s cute when a little kid tells you he’s gonna be an astronaut when he grows up, except that these same people are ruining the world. Like, literally. Politically, but also in that way that in a few more years the average temp will be like 50 degrees (Celsius, btw, that system everybody uses except you, perhaps you’ve heard of it?), what used to be farmland will be a dustbowl, and starving people will be battling it out over a twinkie. Also, some of these people have automatic weapons.
So, you know, not cute so much as horrifiying and scary.
Some problems are structural, and they are best solved using structural solutions. Suck it.