As I contemplate the chaos in our nation, it’s exasperating to see the number of idiots messing up their lives, making stupid choices and expecting society to pick up the tab as well as handle the repercussions. Astoundingly, people will continue to claim the right to do whatever they please (no matter how disruptive) and expect the government (well, the taxpayers) to pay.
It occurred to me that one of the biggest issues this country faces – and to which many if not most of our problems can be attributed – is a lack of personal responsibility.
I believe personal responsibility began its death spiral when the government began standing between people and their mistakes.
People have always made stupid choices in life. We’re only human, after all. There was a time when we learned from those mistakes because we were forced to deal with the consequences. Perhaps someone’s stupid choices could lead him or her to bankruptcy. Or shame. Or poverty. Or ill health. Whatever the repercussions, people were forced to recognize that stupid behaviors resulted in complications, and to avoid these complications it was best to avoid the stupid behaviors.
Now, what happens when we keep the complications and remove the repercussions? Elementary, my dear Watson – people don’t learn from their mistakes. Indeed, they learn the opposite – that stupid choices DON’T have serious repercussions, and so making more stupid choices is no big deal. So they make more.
As I see it, many of our national woes could be solved if only the government would stop providing the money that saves people from the consequences of their own mistakes.
There’s a great deal of intolerance in this nation concerning personal choices, in large part because money is involved. I want you to pay for my mistakes, and you want me to pay for yours. But how many of those problems would clear themselves up if no one else had to pay for them? Tolerance is a lot easier if no one is forced to pay for another person’s stupidity.
For example: Women have claimed many victories since the modern feminist movement began in the 1960s. Somehow feminists have concluded that women can only be empowered if they have total sexual freedom. But feminists don’t want to take personal responsibility and pay for the results of that sexual freedom. They want the government to pay for it. That’s why they are forever lobbying for government-funded welfare, abortion and birth control.
But what would happen if the government no longer paid for any of that? Do you think women might rediscover the need to keep their legs together instead of “empowering” themselves by sleeping around?
Do you think men might better control their urges if they had to pay for their good times rather than heading off to greener pastures, secure in the knowledge that Uncle Sugar will play daddy?
The people truly in need of a safety net (the elderly, the disabled, etc.) are relatively few compared to the vast majority of healthy able-boded citizens who simply have forgotten (or never learned) the sometimes harsh lessons of what personal responsibility entails.
So let’s play a game. Let’s pretend that in a stroke of a pen, the government refused to fund peoples’ choices.
OUCH. What do you mean the government won’t support me if I have an illegitimate child? What do you mean the government won’t pay for my eating problem? What do you mean the government won’t buy my birth control (or pay for my abortion) because I didn’t have the self-control to keep my legs together?
You see, I really don’t give a rat’s behind what you do in your personal life (as long as it doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s life, property, or liberties). If you want to drive without a seatbelt, ride a motorcycle without a helmet, smoke, or have a baby out of wedlock … that’s your business. But would you do those things if there were no government safety nets to catch you if you fall? Maybe. People will always make stupid choices. But it would be a whole lot more expensive or uncomfortable if the government refused to pay for whatever dumb thing you think you have the “right” to do.
Personal responsibility and maturity includes the necessity to project into the future and determine whether an action, behavior, or decision will have negative consequences. Sure, you’re free to do stupid things. But with freedom comes responsibility, which means you’re also obliged to accept and handle the repercussions of that stupid behavior. By yourself. Out of your own pocket.
I have no desire to force anyone else to act or behave the way I think they should, any more than I would want someone else telling ME how to act or behave. But nor should anyone’s actions or behavior be paid for by someone else (the taxpayer) through forcible wealth redistribution. Those who support the endless “safety nets” that allow people not to face any repercussions for their bad behavior are certainly good at spending other peoples’ money.
When the government pays for our personal irresponsibility, that means it also has the right to dictate our behavior. And of course, being government, it does so … forcibly … by regulating ALL of us for the sins of the few. It’s a long, nasty and tyrannical slippery slope on which we’ve embarked.
Historically, much of America’s greatness arose from peoples’ ability to do what they liked, free from government tyranny. But it also meant they had to accept responsibility for their actions as well as be creative in finding solutions to their problems. That creativity led to the tremendous growth that became the envy of the globe.
So here’s my solution to America’s current crop of woes: Stop federal funding. Stick to the Constitution. Let states decide on their own how to handle things (remember the 10th Amendment?). That way if you don’t like a state’s laws, you can leave for another state.
It astounds me to think how many of our country’s problems would be solved if only the government would stop funding personal actions and behaviors. And it would impinge on no one’s freedoms, either. You’re still free to be as stupid as you want! No one can dictate your health choices or irresponsible actions!
But when the bill comes due for your choices, it has YOUR name on it. Not mine.