One thing that I will remember about 2009 that has really been eating away at me all year is the fundamental change in American politics that we have seen take hold. I think we have tipped over the fulcrum due to our lack of accepting perosnal responsiblity for our own welfare and prosperity. As I watch the news about what bills are in Congress and what people’s major concerns are, it reminds me of how short sighted the average American is.
Whenever something goes wrong, right away people look for someone to blame other than themselves. An easy and obvious scapegoat is blaming the government for not doing its job. People forget to stop and think about what government’s job really is and should be. They automatically assume that someone in government has control over things and therefore must have screwed up when things go wrong.
We witnessed it with hurricane Katrina down in New Orleans. People automatically blamed the federal government for people’s deaths and suffering. Was it really the government’s fault though? If we got hit with a blizzard in Buffalo and there was ten feet of snow dropped in a few days, you can bet that there would be large numbers of deaths. Would it be the federal government’s fault for not sending in troops to dig us out right away? I think not.
When people started borrowing more money than they could possibly afford to pay back in order to buy homes they knew they could not afford, was it government’s fault for letting this happen? Isn’t it really the idiots fault for taking this loan? Isn’t it really also the idiot banker’s fault for making the loan? Was it really government’s fault? I think not.
No matter how much government intervention and regulation we allow into our lives, there will always be people who make poor decisions because of their own greed or their own stupidity. If government is going to be held responsible for making sure this never happens then they are certainly going to fail. They have already failed the more than 50% of city high school students who cannot even graduate from one of the simple stinking public school systems across this country. When are people going to realize that it is impossible to control these things at a federal level?
We must accept responsibility for handling these things ourselves. We must not blame government for failing at things that are under our control not theirs. It is our responsibility as decent people to make sure that our kids graduate from high school. Not doing so makes us failures as parents. It is our responsibility as neighbors to help out a neighbor who lost their home in a flood. It is our responsibility as workers to help our companies become more efficient and more competitive in the global economy. It is not government’s job. Their job is to allow us the freedom to do this ourselves.
If we expect our governments to do these sorts of things for us then we are certainly going to be disappointed when they fail at it. Because they will fail. You can bet your next unemployment check on it.
The federal government’s primary job should be to make sure that no other country attacks or invades us. They simply aren’t any good at doing much else. They certainly aren’t any good at micromanaging our economy or at making sure that everyone plays fair. The original US Constitution was small and limited because the founding fathers knew this. But people, in their infinite shortsightedness, forget the lessons of history and the reasons why the founding fathers agreed in limited federal government.
The reasons why we have the problems that we have in our country today are not because there isn’t enough government regulation or not enough government programs. The problems we have can be traced to the people on a local level. It is our fault. We have taken things for granted. We have forgotten that there are billions of other people on this planet who also want to upgrade their standards of living. We need to become more productive and more efficient ourselves in order to be able to produce superior goods and services at a lower cost than they can. Otherwise we will end up buying the products from them.
The banking crisis was our fault. It was our friends and neighbors who were buying homes that they could not afford just because it was too easy to get a loan. Where was the common sense? Where was the parent telling their son or daughter that they were going to get burned as soon as the real estate bubble burst? Where was the wife telling her husband that this whole thing seemed a little too good to be true? Was it government’s fault? No. It was the inherent greed in that couple’s veins that caused them to do that. It was the sense that they wanted what the guy next door had and they felt that they were also entitled to it. Instead of using common sense and good judgment, they let their greed get the best of them.
Now everyone is paying for their bad decisions. We are paying because voters decided it was government’s fault for not making sure this didn’t happen. It is not government’s fault. It is our fault. It is our fault for not reminding each other that there are more important things in life than acquiring the most toys. There are more important things like teaching your son and daughter not to borrow more money than they can afford to pay back. How about teaching your kids that above all else they must save at least 10% of every paycheck so they have some kind of security when things don’t work out as planned? How about setting a good example for the next generation by helping a neighbor who needs it instead of saying it is somebody else’s job? How about we try to convince our brothers and sisters that it is never too late to go back to school and get a better education?
How about we try to show an obviously troubled kid the right path in life instead of blaming the police for not controlling crime well enough? How about we get to know our neighbors so that we can look out for each other instead of just hoping the guy next door isn’t a dope dealer? How about we focus on bettering ourselves so that we can earn more money instead of bitching about greedy businessmen running the world?
The farther we as individuals get away from the basic fundamental principles of human decency and personal responsibility, the more screwed up our whole country is going to get. It is up to us on a grass roots level to change things. This is how you build a great country. You don’t do it by electing people who promise they will do it for you. You must accept the responsibility yourself.
The freedom of a people is directly proportional to society’s willingness to accept personal responsibility for its welfare and prosperity.