Society is a concept. We are just people.

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“In Britain, the rise of Margaret Thatcher reflected a post-socialist respect for the individual: “There is no such thing as society,” Thatcher said. “There are individual men and women and there are families.””

— Great Society: A New History by Amity Shlaes

I found this book enlightening. Between its pages are years of history to analyze and reflect on as we move into our new world. It has a long list of social programs that were instituted in the 1960’s and 70’s. Some worked and some didn’t. I found interesting a bill or social program is evaluated and considered a success by it being passed as law, not by the outcome of the program.

“Congress, too, as the Hoover Institution’s John Cogan has put it, “measured success by labels and dollars attached to legislation”—not by results. The political success of a project mattered more than empirical success.”

— Great Society: A New History by Amity Shlaes

It is clear that having social programs on the books is a bad idea.

“The United States had locked itself into social spending promises that might never be outgrown.”

— Great Society: A New History by Amity Shlaes

“By the late 1970s and 1980s, America was ready to look back at the 1960s and evaluate not only the costs but the programs themselves. Had the reforms been worth it? Which individual reform achieved what it had promised? Kennedy’s Man to the Moon space program inspired the country and put Woodstock, the Vietnam War, and even riots in cities into perspective. Kennedy’s and Johnson’s early civil rights reforms indeed redeemed our democracy. They enabled black Americans to enter shops, vote, find work, and conduct their lives with dignity. Medicare and Medicaid, our two giant health programs, saved or improved the lives of many seniors and poor families. But the results of many other 1960s reforms fell short. Johnson had promised to try to “cure poverty, and above all to prevent it.” No cure occurred.”

— Great Society: A New History by Amity Shlaes

“The Dow flirted with the 1,000 level throughout the decade, but did not cross the line definitively until 1982, an astonishingly long period to stagnate, nearly a generation.”

— Great Society: A New History by Amity Shlaes

“This economic question may sound dull. But the astounding reality is that the economic legacy of the Great Society era matters more than the Vietnam conflict, now stored away in a national mental file cabinet labeled “Cold War.””

— Great Society: A New History by Amity Shlaes

“Once again, many Americans rate socialism as the generous philosophy. But the results of our socialism were not generous. May this book serve as a cautionary tale of lovable people who, despite themselves, hurt those they loved. Nothing is new. It is just forgotten.”

— Great Society: A New History by Amity Shlaes

I believe we ought to see and treat each other as people and not as a group. We ought to value and nurture our ingenuity and help each other as if one at a time.

Eugenio Zorrilla.

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