Friday, August 26, 2011

The "I Didn't Do It" Society

I'll try to keep this brief, though I think I could probably rant for hours on the death of personal responsibility.  What was once confined to the mouths of children is becoming commonplace throughout our society.  I first noticed it in the 1990's with the escalation of the insanity defense, which spawned the twinkie defense, the extra Y chromosome defense, battered spouse syndrome, etc etc.  I've since noticed it in civil matters, in finance and economics, and in politics.  The situations change, but the refrain is the same:

"It's not my fault."
"I didn't do it."
"I may have done it, but only because...."
"Society made me do it."
"It wasn't me, it was the one-armed man!"

Not being blamed, not being the source of disappointment, not wanting to shoulder the responsibility are all understandable instincts for a child and in children, should be excusable.  We aren't children anymore, but someone forgot to tell society that.  We have gone from our parents providing for us to the government providing for us...and when we have children, the government provides for them as well.  Nearly half of all children born in the last 5 years have received government food assistance.  Schools are becoming little more than extended day cares for hoards of uninvolved parents who stay happily uninvolved and irresponsible for the education of their children. 

People borrow money and become the "victims" when they can't meet their obligations.  Stories air nightly and have for years on the victims of foreclosure.  The banks are blamed, the mortgage brokers are blamed, wall street is blamed, but no blame is cast on the speculators, those who lied on mortgage applications, those who borrowed more than they could hope to repay.  This isn't to say that they don't share some responsibility with those who were peddling this madness, but ultimately the decision was theirs.   Oh, but even the banks are avoiding responsibility, not because they don't admit fault, but because our government is afraid of the consequences of their default. 

Our government, despite the propaganda that you should give up your responsibilities to their benevolent hands, is another ardent supporter of the "It's Not My Fault" chorus.  From individual politicians pointing the finger at their counterparts in an opposing party to the bureaucracy interested only in perpetuating it's own existence, regardless of the quality of work produced, we are surrounded by exemplifiers of this lifestyle. 

There are numerous personal advantages to this lifestyle.  For instance, let's say you make a decent salary and feel guilty that you make more than your neighbors.  You could voluntarily give him part of your income to make up for the difference OR you could petition the government to take a portion of money from people who make more than you and redistribute that to those who make less.  This way you get the warm glow of helping someone without it costing you as much money. 

If retirement isn't your responsibility you can spend all of your income on the here and now, not worrying about the cost of maintaining your health and home when your earning power decreases due to age, but that's ok.  The government is responsible for that now.  Don't want to be involved in your kids future, it's ok, we're spending billions and billions of dollars to make sure you don't have to.  We aren't doing a very good job, but that's because greedy people like those republicans won't give up more of their money so we can spend it babysitting and maybe educating your child.  No, don't worry, we've got it.  It's not YOUR responsibility.  You gave birth, isn't that enough?

If paying your creditors isn't your responsibility you can buy a house and car and the whatever else you can convince someone to let you borrow.  The mortgage lender doesn't care, the government is going to guaranty the loan to them and the government doesn't care because happy homeowners don't vote out the politicians that helped them get there.  And don't worry, we all know it isn't your fault, you were coerced into taking these loans.  Society told you that you had to have a nice house and big car and all the newest gadgets.  And so what if it is your fault, you didn't hurt anyone, just some big corporation who doesn't know the difference....and the government that bailed them out....and the taxpayers who have ever growing portions of their income seized to cover the costs...and your children who see that there are no consequences to irresponsible didn't hurt anyone.


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