Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Whatever Happened To Personal Responsibility?

I'm listening to both sides of the "unemployment benefits" extension discussion. And all I can think is, "What has happened to personal responsibility?"

I understand times are hard, and jobs are not plentiful. But I also know a few other things that all too many people are finding it convenient to overlook. For example, everyone can find a way to support themselves. It was standard procedure in the days before the hand-outs started. There is not a person alive who is incapable of making a living somehow.

In the last three centuries is was not uncommon during hard times for the breadwinner to leave home, often for months, to find work in a distant place, then send the money home. Those people took "personal responsibility" seriously

I met a 9 year-old quadraplegic boy at Logan airport one day. If anyone had an excuse for not earning a living, this kid was the poster boy. But in spite of being unable to move, or even speak (he communicated with a stick in his mouth typing on a keyboad), this boy had already written a book on HOPE. The royalties brought in more money than his father was earning.

NO ONE has an excuse for not finding a way to support themselves.

In the recession and gas lines of the 70's I became unemployed. After the 26 weeks of benefits were used up and I still could not find work, I did what I should have done 26 weeks earlier - I made my own work. I used my wife's Tri-Chem ballpoint pens to paint funny stuff on T-Shirts and sold them. I bought a cheap detector and earned money finding money, and jewelry that I sold. When spring came I cleaned people's yards. And that turned into a profitable landscape business that I later sold for pretty good bucks.

The point is, we need to demand that everyone accept more personal responsibility BEFORE we issue hand-outs. It's one thing to help someone who cannot help themselves. It's is something else altogether to provide entitlements to those who can help themselves but won't.

When people hold themselves more responsible for their own lives, things tend to work out just fine. Maybe not easy. Maybe inconvenient. But it sure beats the high cost of forfeiting your dignity and self-respect.

As for this "extension" being an emergency -- As my Mom used to say, "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."


No comments: