The Public Interest

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California.
Whatever happened to the concept of “the public interest?” What about “the common good?”
In 1961 John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural speech, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” This statement inspired an entire generation to dedicate themselves to public service or other pursuits that helped the public-at-large ahead of narrower, selfish interests. And they thought that was a good thing to do with their lives, not a foolish waste of their time.
Many today would scoff at that notion. In the decades since JFK’s call to public service the idea of government as a force for good has been severely denigrated. For so many years conservatives and business interests have been getting their message out, trying to convince us that people should be selfish — that they shouldn’t care about others because it is up to each person to take care of themselves. They say that we are not our brother or sister’s keeper, that each person should be responsible only for themselves.
But there are some basic facts and realities that get in the way of conservative philosophy.

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