Sunday, October 11, 2009

The end of personal responsibility in America - from dependence to bondage

If I 'need' a new furnace, should I be able to go out and get one and then tell the seller that I really can't afford it so he should just give it to me - or not make me go into debt to pay for it?

If I 'need' a car, should I get a new one with state-of-the-art accessories and then tell the dealer that, because I have a low-paying job, I'm entitled to have it for what I can pay, despite the price, and not go into debt for it?

If I fail to convince the suppliers of these products that they should grant them to me based upon my need and not my ability to pay, should I turn to government to force, through law, my 'right' to a new furnace and/or the new car?

Of course not.

But so many people think that other 'services' should be treated this way, especially when it comes to the service of health care. A letter-writer in today's paper has a tragic sob story based upon her experience as a 'medical insurance biller.'

The author somehow believes that because you might 'need' a particular service, it should be provided at no cost - or at whatever cost you can pay - rather than at the cost of producing the product. She also seems to believe that individuals who provide a service should not expect payment for those services simply because the costs are too high for some to afford.

What she doesn't account for is the personal responsibility of the individual receiving such services. She doesn't address the fact that said person may not have pursued a higher paying job by getting more training or education. She doesn't address the fact that said person might have chosen to have children and pay those costs rather than save money for future expenses. She doesn't address whether or not said person has family who can (and probably should) help in such circumstances. She also doesn't address why a person should not be obligated, over time, to pay for services rendered, as if there is something bad about owing a debt to a person who has helped extend your life through the application of their knowledge.

No - she assumes that one individual's 'need' requires another individual's sacrifice - rather than assume a mutually beneficial exchange between the two. Her letter indicates she thinks that because a person cannot afford a product, they 'need,' government to step in and mandate it be provided. Which means she thinks you and I should pay for someone else to have something based upon her concept of what is right. (And she apparently misses the contradiction of why the receiver of services shouldn't have to pay but you and I should, despite our lack of involvement in the transaction.)

And why shouldn't she? Look at what people have come to expect of government - rather than of themselves: food, housing, child care, higher education, bus tokens, cars for transportation, refrigerators, help in finding a job, supplements, pensions (Social Security), and medical well as a host of other things that enshrine in law personal preferences, like preventing your neighbors from planting trees because you don't like the location they pick.

What we are seeing is the end of personal responsibility in America - and with that comes the end of liberty.

We've become a nation where all things are 'rights' and must be granted by government, despite the fact that your 'right' to something necessarily infringes upon my 'right' to keep my own money and not to pay for you to have something - especially when I'm also paying for my 'right' to have the same thing and at the same time.

Everything these days seems to revolve around 'rights talk.' As George Will recently wrote:

If our vocabulary is composed exclusively of references to rights, aka entitlements, we are condemned to endless jostling among elbow-throwing individuals irritably determined to protect, or enlarge, the boundaries of their rights. Among such people, all political discourse tends to be distilled to what Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law School calls "rights talk."

Witness the inability of people nowadays to recommend this or that health care policy as merely wise or just. Each proposal must be invested with the dignity of a right. And since not all proposals are compatible, you have not merely differences of opinion but apocalyptic clashes of rights.

Rights talk is inherently aggressive, even imperial; it tends toward moral inflation and militates against accommodation. Rights talkers, with their inner monologues of pre-emptive resentments, work themselves into a simmering state of annoyed vigilance against any limits on their willfulness. To rights talkers, life -- always and everywhere -- is unbearably congested with insufferable people impertinently rights talking, and behaving, the way you and I of course have a real right to.

But this talk of 'rights' is even more insidious.

When everyone has a 'right' to the product of other's labor (and health services are a prime example), there is no private ownership of that labor. It is, at that point, government ownership of that labor - and the means of production, where government dictates what you must provide to others and at what costs and under what conditions. Even if you can choose which doctor to go to, that doctor must follow the government's laws of the exchange of his services for your payment, regardless of what the two of may agree to otherwise. Government's determination of your 'rights' to this type of service means that the doctor's liberty - and yours - no longer exist in the transaction.

That is certainly contrary to what our founders fought for and, in fact, exactly what they fought against in the struggle to form these United States. They firmly rejected the idea of 'rights' granted by governments or kings and embraced the idea that 'rights' are inherent, granted by God. As a result, governments are supposed to guarantee the protection of each person's rights - not create new ones in order to put government in control of their management.

And yet, we find many of our countrymen embracing such concepts and ideas when it comes to what they're 'entitled' to. When government provides, rather than protects, what we've always believed were 'rights granted by our Creator,' we have lost our liberty. And without our liberty, we are reduced to tyranny, with an ever-growing government constantly expanding its ability to determine what is and is not a 'right' and then graciously giving it to us - and, inevitably, taking credit for it during a re-election campaign.

Thankfully, there is also a letter writer (third letter down in the link above) who understands that health care is a benefit - not a right - and urges people to work to attain such benefits. Sadly, though, that opinion is not shared by enough people. It's too easy to allow government to provide, rather than work hard in order to provide for yourself.

And now that we find a majority of Americans receiving rather than contributing to the costs, we are truly at the stage we were warned of:

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.

Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.

We are, I believe, already fully entrenched in dependence.

So what about bondage and tyranny?

Think about the fact that more of the average American's work effort goes to supporting governments (federal, state, local ... and all the related quasi-governmental agencies or property tax levies) than it does to supporting themselves and their families. I once heard a phrase: there is no greater form of tyranny than when government seizes your funds to pay for items that you would never pay for yourself.

Consider these quotes:

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." ~ C. S. Lewis

"Government initiatives tend to fail because they lack competitive pricing mechanisms that measure effectiveness and value. This trend is getting worse as more and more authority moves away from local control toward higher levels of central control. Governments based on politically expedient special interest (instead of moral principle) tend to use our money and their version of how people should live, to dictate "feel-good" solutions. The truth is government does not have insider knowledge on what individuals need and how they will respond. The U. S. government has become nothing more than a massive tyranny of good intentions. God gave us freedom to choose. Why does government attempt to do what even God did not?" ~ Wes Alexander

Considering this, can bondage be right around the corner? Or are we already at that stage?

When that bondage arrives, it will not come with pronouncements and chains ... it will come wrapped in the guise of 'safety,' and 'greater good' and 'compassion' or 'saving the planet' or 'for the children' or any number of catch phrases designed to mask what is really happening - that government has become the master and we its slaves.


Roman said...

We are very near the point where if you "want" or "need" something enough, someone should provide it for you, no questions asked.

In the United States, the tipping point for income tax is close. Nearly half of the population does not pay them.

Soon, when properly "organized", the non-payers will be voting themselves benefits and "rights" that someone else will be paying for. It is like a grip that always tightnes, never releases and will control everything, if not stopped.

John Sims said...

Simply outstanding commentary. Permission to re-post with credits?

Maggie said...

Certainly, John, and thanks!

Timothy W Higgins said...

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."
- Karl Marx.

Need I say more ...

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