Individual vs. Social Responsibility

So I’m in the left turn lane, behind one car, waiting for the arrow. It lights up, and the guy in front of me looks back at me, shrugs and points to the lane next to us where he intended to be.  Of course we all make mistakes, but I cannot help wondering why his mistake should cost me? Why doesn’t he just take the turn he had not intended to take and let the line of us behind him go on in the direction we were headed for? He can circle around and get back to where he wants to be. He could take responsibility for his mistake, which means taking the consequences and not making us take them for him. That’s easy, and could be equitable. He pays the cost of a few minutes and we go on with no cost.

But what about a 17 year old kid who robs a store and gets caught? Assume he confesses and takes his consequences. The rest of us  are still  stuck with costs:  the trauma to the victim and  the victims family and friends, the cost of the police time to find him and the cost of the trial, and then the cost of prison and rehabilitation. It seems to me, we ought to begin looking at these costs as part of a huge government spending program. And from that perspective we can more reasonably compare those costs to programs like the old civilian conservation corps. Reports that I’ve read seem to say that costs of prison alone are higher than those of a community college. And that’s just dollars to dollars without regard to the individual, family and social costs versus benefits. Where do we really want our young people to get trained, and what do we really want to have them trained to do?

One comment

  1. Kendall · · Reply

    Yes. I am working with youth in a prison in Swannanoa. It is called a Youth Development Center, or Training School, but I am not clear on what training is actually being instituted. Our program teaches a set number of skills that have been identified as lacking in the population of young people diagnosed with Oppostional Defiant or Conduct Disorder. There is the constant issue of funding and often there are not enough staff at their facility to coordinate transportation and supervision needs. We are investing in these young people one way or another…might as well make it a conscious, positive, planned, effective, investment…

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