Individual Responsibility And Why You Don’t Have It

Individual Responsibility And Why You Don't Have ItPeople from everywhere along the spectrum of political belief agree, or at the least pay lip service, to the idea of personal responsibility. Folks on the left of the spectrum say business leaders should have responsibility for the damage their companies do to people and the environment and not take bailouts. Folks on the right say people on welfare and other social handouts should accept responsibility for the poor choices that put them in that situation. Despite where they focus their attention for blame, most people agree one of the keys to a better society is having more, not less, individual responsibility.

The truth is people in our society almost never have individual responsibility. The whole social system is designed to remove it.

When a person cheerleads for a foreign war and happily pays his tax money and sports a ‘Support Our Troops’ ribbon on his car and then a missile he willingly paid for kills an innocent mother and her three children – and no one else – how responsible is the person who helped fund the attack? (As an aside, I know what the US does if I give a guy money to buy a pressure cooker and a backpack. But if I pay for a depleted uranium bullets for the US to use on foreigners I’m supposed to be proud of my ‘support.’)

When a person campaigns to have public employees in a city get a fat pay increase and bloated pensions and that city later declares bankruptcy under the financial strain, which campaigners and voters are made to pay for the financial and social destruction they promoted?

When a country wants to import oil from a dictatorship and sells that dictator enough weapons to kill a million of his dissenters, who takes personal responsibility for those killings?

Personal irresponsibility is virtually inescapable. When I lived in Idaho I drove along highways paid for by federal taxes. Why should some hard working guy in Florida pay for my road in Idaho? I have six kids. Sometimes they were home schooled and sometimes they were forced by law into State schools. When they were young I couldn’t afford to have half my production taken in taxes and then pay for private schooling with what I had left. Later I could afford it, but I’m still guilty of benefiting from some poor bastard who had no kids but had to pay for mine to be schooled.

The political system sanitizes all of this. Just show up every few years – amid the balloons, ribbons and music – and vote for the smiling guy with great hair who says he’s going to help huge groups of people, foreign and domestic. Tick a box, and then absolve yourself of responsibility for all the carnage that comes from your sanction. Nobody will call you on it. Nobody will say, “Hey, why don’t you find a way to stop participating in all this coercion, theft and bloodshed?”

Well, almost no one.

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