Monday, December 4

Individual Responsibility

A certain "Conservative Blogger" likes to point out the "hypocrisy of liberals" and his latest blogging is about personal responsibility. His supposition is that it is not up to businesses to pony up for the needs of those individuals who are in need of social service, that in fact, government impedes personal responsibility. He believes that the accumulation of wealth is good and what a person chooses to do with that wealth is their call--that is what capitalism is about, after all.

Let me state that I whole-heartedly agree with people being personal responsible, but I don't live in a black and white world. I know that while we are trying to form a "more perfect" union, there are going to be differences of opinions about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is particularly true since "all men are created equal". We know that a "benevolent" government is a relatively new phenomenon, but it was brought about by extraordinary events--namely, capitalism on a global level failing during the Great Depression.

Had it not been for the successes of the New Deal, it is unlikely that the democracy we enjoy would have endured. Still, without a sense of history, it is easy to say "my way or the highway". As a Progressive, I see that the government makes all kinds of decisions about our taxes. Just as the blogger is sure that government is picking his pocket to help the slackers of society, I am sure it is bankrupting our future generations through warfare, corporate welfare, and a system of taxation that is generally not fair. It is the tensions of demands on government that make for divisiveness.

Will Rogers once said, "Everyone talks about the weather, but no one is doing anything about it." Government doesn't have that problem, as it is constantly ebbing and flowing as the left and right wrestle for power. As a Progressive, I'd like to see the government do less for those who don't need government to help and more for those who do. It has to, you see, because society is not infallible, people don't always do what is right or just and, frankly, sometimes we all need help. I don't think there is anything beneficial of taking up the "greed is good" mantle, as long as there is human suffering that we can do something about.

Government serves that role because it is a more efficient way to take care of big problems faster and more fairly than we as individuals can do by ourselves. I appreciate my individual responsibilities and one of them, to me, is to help others. When I can't, it is good to know we have government to step in.

Just like the rest of life, government is messy, it is not perfect, it overreaches, it under-performs, and it disappoints at times. But ask yourself, where would we be without the results it has produced? If the marketplace was left to its own devices, would we have clean air and water, protections for workers, education for our young? Would we have a social safety net?

This is why capitalism has to be moderated by government. As imperfect as government can be, the free market is much more so.

No comments: