Individualism is a jealously guarded fundamental principle in the West, more so in the US, as opposed to the idea of dependence on any institution, formal or informal.
However, the practice that nobody needs to take care of anybody (except for paying taxes to the State), or needs to be dependent on any institution (except for receiving social security and welfare from the State), has run into serious trouble. It has, ironically, resulted in a slavery of sorts, reversing the basic Western belief in liberty and freedom.
The financial crisis in the US, in its essence, demonstrates how mindless debt can be used to ensnare the entire society in a form of soft slavery.
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