The Uses of Disaster (Harpers.org): "Americans work more hours now than anyone else in the industrialized world. They also work far more than they themselves did as recently as a few decades ago. This shift is economic—call it Reaganomics or Chicago-style “liberalism” or “globalization”—but it is cultural too, part of an odd backlash against unions, social safety nets, the New Deal and the Great Society, against the idea that we should take care of one another, against the idea of community. The proponents of this shift celebrate the frontier ideals of “independence” and the Protestant work ethic and the Horatio Alger notion that it's all up to you.
In this light, we can regard the notion of “privatization” as a social phenomenon far broader than a process by which government contracts are granted. Citizens are redefined as consumers. Public participation in electoral politics falters, and with it any sense of collective or individual political power. Public space itself—the site for the First Amendment's “right of the people peaceably to assemble”—withers away. Free association is aptly termed, for there is no profit in it. And since there is no profit in it, we are instead encouraged by our great media and advertising id to fear one another and regard public life as a danger and a nuisance, to live in secured spaces, communicate by electronic means, and acquire our information from that self-same media rather than from one another. The barkers touting our disastrous “ownership society” refuse to acknowledge that it is what we own in common that makes us strong. But disaster makes it clear that our interdependence is not only an inescapable fact but a fact worth celebrating—that the production of civil society is a work of love, indeed the work that many of us desire most."