Personal Responsiblity

What happened to personal responsibility? I hear politicians talking about how immoral it is for employers or health insurers to deny contraceptive coverage for women, as if this is the only possible way for contraceptives to be obtained. While this is meant to fit into the “War on Women” paradigm the left tries to push, it sounds more like an insult; insinuating that women are not capable of acquiring their own contraceptives. Routine costs were never meant to be covered by insurance anyway; insurance is for things you cannot afford to replace or pay for in the event of an emergency. But the government has been telling us for some time that it is not our own responsibility to avoid sexually transmitted disease, and control pregnancy. That is the government’s problem, or your employer’s problem; apparently we are helpless.

When people are treated like children, they act like children. Lots of people are very happy to blame the government when something goes wrong, and the government is happy to provide them with the solution. Giving a solution means the government buys a vote with tax dollars, and expands their power and control. Power and control–apart from being an end for many politicians in itself–means personal wealth for many politicians who are able to keep a piece of backroom deals with private companies. Maybe they hire the company for a government job or provide subsidies or grants, funneling tax dollars to a friend or relative who will return the favor, with at least substantial contributions to the politicians’ reelection campaign.

There was a time when consumers were responsible for researching the products they bought, to get their produce and meat from farms they trusted and knew, and to shop around as to not promote poorly managed or dishonest companies. Oh but we are all so busy these days! Why should I have to waste my time researching the things I need to use anyway? Good thing we have the government to pretend to check the safety of products, to check to see that some of the food is sanitary, and to take the choice away from us, and close family farms with heavy regulatory burdens.

There are always extenuating circumstances for why people cannot make ends meet. Being against government help however, is not the same thing as being against any help for the poor or disabled. Churches, private charities, or even state and local governments would all be more appropriate avenues to reach the needy than the federal government. In addition to breaking down the work that must be done and increasing efficiency, it cuts out a large amount of fraud. A community can tell if someone really needs help, after a loved one’s death, after a fire, or even indefinitely for various reasons. The federal government comes up with criteria–another one size fits all approach which wastes money and fails to reach some of the people in need–and then opens the floodgates.

Can 20% of our population really not make it on their own? Or have they been told so many times that it is not their problem to make it on their own, that they have come to expect the welfare? The government has set up the welfare system so that many people can stay on it indefinitely–and for many this makes economic sense. I have personally seen multiple people collect welfare benefits who did not need them, many people stay on disability without a legitimate injury, and certain people milk unemployment because “it wouldn’t be worth it for me to get a job yet”. These are not all the cases of people taking government assistance, but I have seen enough first hand to know that the programs are not effective at restricting those from using government benefits who do not need them. Employment was once something to take pride in, because you were producing and contributing to society. Now it seems that as long as there is money, people don’t bother to think of where it came from, or who worked for it. And politicians and government have conditioned people to shirk their personal responsibility to look after themselves. It helps them get votes and power.

Thomas Sowell has written on the breakdown of the black family, specifically after welfare benefits were introduced more widespread under Johnson. Fathers who would otherwise stay with and support their families no longer thought it was their responsibility to do so once the government began all the “you have no control over your situation” propaganda. Do you have control over the situation you are born into, who your parents are, or what problems face you from the start of your life? No. But why is it that people who are told they can rise out of the ghetto have a higher rate of rising out of the ghetto? Politicians that hammer the idea that social mobility is impossible are ruining the lives of many people who wrongly believe this is the truth. Not everyone will rise out of poverty, but a hell of a lot more people will when they are told that it is possible, instead of being told that they are doomed to remain poor because of the sins of past generations.

Accepting personal responsibility has an invigorating quality about it that psychologically makes you more able and likely to accomplish your goals. The second you tell yourself that you are in control of you future, you take control of your future. There will always be terrible aspects of life that we cannot avoid or change, but for the vast majority of people born in America, their life can be shaped how they want it to be. No one said it was easy, and no one said it wasn’t harder for some than others, but we are not doing anyone any favors by telling them their life situation is out of their hands. What is easy, however, is shirking the responsibility we have to make something of ourselves and live the best possible life we can forge, and instead becoming children of the government.

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