Here is a question from many of my discussions with conservatives regarding individual responsibility v. some kind of systemic issue (actually often a false choice, btw). It comes from what seems like a conservative emphasis on personal responsibility and a denial of any kind of systemic problems in our financial (or other) area.
Say you give 100 people loans. If only 6 of those 100 fail to repay, that would easily be written off as their individual failure, right? If you had a 94% repayment rate, you would have to conclude that the terms of the loan were fair and the arrangement was set up correctly or fairly.
But what is the tipping point where you have to question the setup? If 30% fail to repay? If I had 30% fail my class, I would probably rethink my approach.
I ask, because I think most conservatives I speak to approach most of our broader economic issues solely from a personal responsibility approach, and do not want to question the system around those individuals. As I said above, I think there is often a gray area besides choosing between those two options. The criminal justice system is a good example. If a high percentage of African American men end up in jail, it might be a combination of both, right? Doesn't excuse the individual criminal acts that get them arrested, but might point to a system that is not doing a good job of addressing race, class, or education?
This also comes out of this previous discussion about the middle class. I believe firmly there are things that we as a government (remembering that the government is us in our system) to better encourage success and stability. My conservative friends tend to look at the decline in social mobility, or wage stagnation, or lack of individual savings--and chalk all of those up to individual people failing to make good decisions. I don't deny that, but also think there is something systemic that has encouraged debt and the other negative things we see.