Don’t blame it all on government, however. Part of our loss of community may be explained by the simple fact that we don’t put down deep roots as individuals and families because we don’t stay put the way we used to. How many of your friends live in their parents’ home towns?

And if home town is such a nebulous concept, should we be surprised that serious thought is being given to rebuilding New Orleans as a city full of charming old-style houses, with railed balconies and lovely verandas — but empty of the “blight” of poor people?

The idea — fortunately not yet the prevailing one — seems to be that the poor would stay where they’ve been temporarily relocated. Or maybe just disappear. Where is the “community” in that?

Strong communities typically have vibrant civic cultures, which keep government acountable to the needs of the community. The breakdown of communities drive a wedge between people, erode our trust in each other, alienates us from government and we all end up like Bill O’Reilly.