We are, judging by our values and actions, a very materialistic and individualistic society. We have a common value which suggests people should "pull themselves up by their own bootstraps", take care of themselves and their families, and ask for little from society. This probably originates in the days when government was absent (on the frontier, for example) and the population more scattered, and you were forced to be self-reliant or you didn't survive.
In the recent health care debate, there seemed to be little concern on the part of many that 1 in 6 Americans had no health insurance at all. There is an underlying, usually unspoken, feeling that if you are poor, you deserve to be poor, or that if you take state aid, you must be lazy.
Our Charles Darwin "Survival of the Fittest" attitude is a large part of our history, and apparently, it is very difficult to overcome. Surprising, because Americans are overwhelmingly patriotic about country, they just don't translate that pride, somehow, to their own society and its people.
Today, you can see various examples of people who do not care enough about other people. I will give one example from each side of the political spectrum (in the US, at least).
Here in the US, conservatives seem to have this attitude about the poor. They tend to think that other people in their society do not need their help. They think that anyone can make it on their own if they just try. This ignores people who need help and is effectively saying "I'm not my brother's keeper, let him fend for himself."
From the other point of view, you can say that liberals feel this way about unborn children. They are willing to let fetuses be aborted for no really good reason. In doing this, they are saying that they are not responsible for protecting the lives of these unborn children.