I frequently receive e-mails from readers professing admiration for our (ahem) “simple” life. (For those unfamiliar with our lifestyle, we have a homestead farm, a home business, and we homeschool our kids.) What many people don’t understand is the sheer hard work the “simple” life entails. Difficult? Undoubtedly. Worth it? Unquestionably.

We live this way because we’re big believers in personal responsibility. We try to be responsible for every major aspect of our lives – our jobs, finances, health care, food and children’s education. To us, it’s simply what grown-ups do.

Apparently, that’s what makes us different. It’s not that we live rural or milk a cow – it’s that we’re independent.

Do you have any idea – any inkling at all – how much more streamlined our nation would be if everyone preferred independence and refused to allow others, especially the government, to be our mommies and daddies?

Thomas Sowell had a superb article this week on the issue of personal responsibility. “Whether the particular issue is education, economics or medical care,” he wrote, “the preferred explanation tends to be an external explanation – that is, something outside the control of the individuals directly involved.”

External. That means you’ve shoved the responsibility for your education, your income or your medical care onto someone else.

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Our government now encourages the removal of responsibility for our actions. If you take away the consequences of bad behavior, the incentive to improve is also gone. If a woman is given money, housing, medical care and (worst of all) accolades for having a baby out of wedlock, why should she stop having babies out of wedlock? More babies equal more goodies and more praise for the “difficulties” she “overcomes.”

Low-income people are seen as a problem for society to “solve” without considering that – get ready to rain insults upon my head – most people are low-income because of their personal choices. (Not all, but most.) Having kids out of wedlock, refusing to take advantage of educational opportunities, having bad habits, engaging in risky behavior, refusing to work … it all adds up to a life of poverty by choice.

My husband and I also chose to embark on a life of near-poverty. In our case, though, we made the decision to sacrifice financial gain and nine-to-five gridlock for living closer to the land and closer to home. We aren’t looking for others – or the government – to alleviate our low-income status.

Sowell points out that “Americans can have the best medical care in the world without having the best health or longevity because so many people choose to live in ways that shorten their lives.” [Emphasis added.] In other words, people refuse to take personal responsibility for the fact that they overeat, under-exercise, smoke, drink, do drugs, engage in risky behavior and otherwise act like idiots … and then complain they’re not living to be a hundred years old. “Americans can end up ruining the best medical care in the world,” says Sowell, “in the vain hope that a government takeover will give us better health.” HellOOO??

Every time the government provides us with goodies – Social Security, education, medical care, welfare – it further enslaves us with golden shackles. The government wants us to be dependent on it because that’s the only way it can increase its power and reach. But benefits come with expenses – and those expenses are forcibly funded by people at the point of a gun.

So quit being lazy, folks. If you want your children educated, stop asking the government to do it for you (they do a lousy job anyway). If you want medical care, stop demanding the government provide it (they’ll screw it up, guaranteed). If you want a car, a job, a vacation … start looking at your own resources, ingenuity, creativity and personal support system to provide it. It’s not my responsibility to give you these things; nor is it your responsibility to give them to me. Government largesse forcibly removes my money to give it to you and vice versa. “Force” is the operative word.

Every time the government passes legislation to provide a benefit, be wary. It means the incentive to provide that thing for yourself is proportionately reduced … and you become a slave to the government for that item. It’s a vicious spiral. Lack of incentive creates a crisis for the government to solve, which it then solves by providing more goodies and taking away more incentives. When will it end? Not until we’ve become the U.S.S.A. instead of the U.S.A.

We’re well on our way to that extra “S.” Even the words of our founding documents (which were written to insure our freedom to be self-sufficient) have been bastardized and twisted to justify a nanny state. The “promotion” clause in the Preamble to our Constitution – which says the government will promote the general welfare – is probably the single most misused phrase. Promote does not mean “provide.” “Promote” means the government will get the hell out of the way so people can provide these things for themselves.

In other words, if it’s not laid out in the Constitution or Bill of Rights, it’s not (or shouldn’t be) the federal government’s job to do it for you. Unfortunately, our government has convinced us that it’s supposed to “do it” for you – and greedy, lazy people welcome it. What used to be free and independent citizens are now pigs at the trough, gobbling up every benefit the government can offer in exchange, apparently, for their immortal souls.

That’s what this nation has become: Greedy pigs at the trough, not the free and independent citizens we were meant to be.

Our wise Founding Fathers, who get wiser every time I read their writing, were well familiar with the pitfalls of socialism. The American colonies had already tried and discarded that experiment. They knew the dangers of asking the government to provide everything because of the incentives (and freedoms) it took away. This isn’t rocket science, people. It’s just common sense.

Uh-oh … unless common sense isn’t common anymore.

On second thought, we’re in trouble.

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