As I've talked to friends/colleagues over the last few weeks re: the current economic malaise, one thing absolutely stands out.  Innocent victims are furious and rightfully so.  I'm talking about people who didn't overextend themselves, people who saved, people who didn't contribute to the current crisis in any way.

I can't say I blame them — and at times I feel the same as well.  Everyone involved abused their "freedoms" to the detriment of all.  There are plenty of cases like this in today's society — the obese person who eats fast food every day & expects to pay low premiums for health care, the soccer mom who drives her 7 mpg Hummer everywhere, the smoker who makes certain bars and restaurants unbearable for asthmatics, the entrepreneur who makes millions off slave labor, I could go on and on.

It seems to me that we are in the midst of a societal shift where we are reconsidering how far people can take their civil liberties.  At one time in America, there was more of a sense of common ideals or morals that people lived by.  I am not sure if it was based on religion, common decency, a need to be #1 in the world, or what.  But we were on the same page as a society in the past far more than we are now.  I don't know if it is because we as a nation have become complacent, lazy, or altogether out for #1.

Look around at the major problems we have today — health care, financial troubles, etc. — many of them can be traced to individuals "working the system" to their behalf at the expense of the many.  People not being disciplined enough to consider how their actions may help collectively impact society in a negative way.  Our freedoms as Americans are failing at the curse of the tragedy of the commons.

I don't know what the solution is, but I do know that the fundamental problem is as challenging as any we've faced.  Our toughest enemy as a country may just be ourselves and taking freedom beyond the point of reason.  And if we give up civil liberties in any way as a result, we only have ourselves to blame… or at least those of us to took things too far.