We can all embrace limited government and personal responsibility

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Why is there so much resistance among a large number of African-Americans to the idea of limited government?

Is it because of its association with a party they are disproportionately not affiliated with? From a pragmatic point of view, if businesses were able to operate in the most efficient manner with as little government intervention as possible so they can grow and become more profitable, that would be reasonable.

Personal responsibility is another term that conjures negative images among many African-Americans, with its association to one political party. How and when did this happen?

I grew up in a household where we had to make up our beds before we came to the table for breakfast. The notion of lounging around the house with our pajamas on, on a Saturday, was not going to happen. Each of us (I have three siblings) had responsibilities and chores, and there was no discussion about that.

There is something liberating to me about personal responsibility. I remember having a baby-sitting job in my early years so I could have my own money. I also recall applying for and receiving scholarships and grants for college so my parents would have to fork out as little money as possible to help me, which allowed my siblings at home to have more. As long as I am able, I am going to do my part. I believe most people think the same way. But somewhere over the years, I believe too many of our elected officials have gotten in the way.

THIS COLUMN was not written to debate the argument of having government-funded social programs or the need for them. I believe we are all aware of those conversations and have heard them ad nauseam . But with all of the divisiveness and in-fighting among our national political leaders and political parties, I don't see many of the social issues decreasing, do you?

Here are some statistics plaguing the African-American community.

- Black males lead the nation in incarceration. According to the Schott Foundation for Public Education, about 60 percent of Georgia black male high school students don't graduate.

- In 2009, Richmond County had 26 murders; 15 of the victims (57 percent) were black men. In that same year, of those murders, 17 of the victims (65 percent) were black. Eighty-two percent of those arrested for these murders were black men.

- The largest number of people contracting HIV/AIDS is African-American women.

- In 2009, 77 percent of the known people having abortions in Richmond County were African-American women.

- Georgia has the eighth-highest teen birth rate in the nation.

l Richmond County has two ZIP codes in the top 10 with the highest number of incarcerated prisoners -- 30906 and 30901.

There is simply not enough progress in resolving these social ills. It seems to be getting worse. With these statistics, ask yourself: Do you think they are going to get better if we maintain the same type of thinking or if we continue doing the same thing we have been doing? I think not.

This Thursday, April 15, there will be an event at Augusta Common -- the Augusta Tea Party. Thousands of people will attend, and you probably also will be able to count on four hands the number of African-Americans present. What's wrong with that picture?

Are there some overzealous individuals who may say and do things that are offensive and a little extreme? Maybe. Will there be talk against President Obama and Democrats? I would think so. There also will be discontented people who will have a lot to say about most of our congressmen -- no matter their political affiliation.

But will the primary message of the Augusta Tea Party on Thursday be limited government and personal responsibility? I think so. Why? Because those are two cornerstones of the conservative ideology. And, yes, there are more conservatives associated with Tea Parties than anyone else. But why does it have to be that way?

LET'S LOOK BEYOND the negative images the national media project about Tea Parties. Let's look beyond party affiliations and put our affiliation blinders on. What if we did something different? What if we embraced and implemented this train of thought of limited government and personal responsibility for, say, 30 days? Statistics have shown that when one does something for 30 days, it can become a habit.

What do you think would happen? Would the mind-set of an individual change a little? What would be the harm in taking personal responsibility and taking safer precautions with sex? Or encouraging kids that getting an education is really cool? Or finding a better way of dealing with anger and jealousy, and turning the other cheek?

What do we have to lose by trying and doing something a little different so we can better address the concerns that plague African-Americans?

Look at the big picture. Listen to the message of limited government and personal responsibility. I don't believe these concepts should be a political or divisive issue because they affect all of us. Ask yourself: Is there a way I can wrap my arms around these concepts, along with what I already believe?

I am asking you to step out of your comfort zone and expand your thinking to embrace concepts you've never considered before.

I'm not talking about changing your political party, because frankly I believe it's political parties, in part, that have gotten us in the mess we're in now. I believe they have helped cloud our ability to engage in a civic dialogue too. It's time to start bridging divides.

But I do want you to think about the statistics I've shared. Consider the questions I've raised, and try the 30-day exercise I've described. What do we have to lose?

(The writer is an Augusta entrepreneur and the host of a local radio talk show.)

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chel
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chel 04/13/10 - 01:52 pm
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Outstanding column Ms.

Outstanding column Ms. Blocker-Adams. I think it is time for everyone to start thinking out of our comfort zones and move "outside of the box" in our efforts to make a change in limiting our government. As you have eloquently stated, Big Government has gotten Americans nowhere except in debt and dependent. Right now our spending for the last 10 years has projected each household in the US be responsible for over $30,000 toward the debt. If the statistics currently being used by all media is true and the current percentage of those on government programs is at an all time high of over 50%, what will it be like when the baby boomer generation retire and add more to that percentage? That is unsustainable and those who just want to add insults or racists comments are not helping the matter. We need robust debate about the facts and then solutions to follow. If we don't start coming together as a nation, we will all feel the effects of what is to come with pink slips or benefits cut.

mary dits
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mary dits 04/13/10 - 02:18 pm
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hi helen! i think most anyone

hi helen!
i think most anyone is for limited government. some of us want government out of our private lives and some of us want government to let businesses do whatever they want to do to make money.
i also think everyone i've ever known is pretty into personal responsibility. wanting a safety net is not the same as wanting a free ride. things like a decent education and affordable transportation, in fact, are vital to ensure that every able person can contribute to society. i and many others see access to good healthcare as part of being able to contribute to society.
we all know people who wait tables or cut hair or mow lawns. are we to assume that their hard work ensures them the humble comfort of good healthcare when they need it?
tea partiers seem to want limited government in the sense that what i have, let me keep, and what others don't have, they didn't earn. that outlook could seem pretty fishy to people who've lived through as much unfairness as african-americans. in fact, weren't slaves back in the day (right here in augusta, even) considered lazy by many of those who had more? has that attitude changed? if so, when? were slaves lazy? are poor people lazy today?
thought experiment: if good schools aren't necessary for success, then why does almost everyone in richmond county who can afford to send their kids to private schools (and whose kids didn't get into to davidson) do so? i thought it was home life that made the difference? are all the parents of students at augusta prep unable to provide the home environment to allow their kids to succeed in a bad school? come on, where's the personal responsibility, people?
if people bristle when they hear tea partiers talk about personal responsibility and limited government, it may be that those terms have become code. it's almost the same as asking why pro-choicers why they're against life or pro-lifers why they're against choice.

Chillen
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Chillen 04/13/10 - 02:31 pm
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"wanting a safety net is not

"wanting a safety net is not the same as wanting a free ride" That is true to some extent marydits however, the safety net that some want is laced with gold and has no expiration date - that is the problem we are facing right now. Too many people sit there with their hands out wanting more & more from the taxpayers & producers in this country.

Short term safety nets are the only solution.
*Welfare - 6 months maximum benefits over your entire lifetime.
*Food stamps - 6 months.
*Unemployment - you get what your employers have paid in for you, then it is gone.

This will teach people to: Save for a rainy day. Rely on family and friends again when in need. The government is not your family OR your friend.

TheFederalist
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TheFederalist 04/13/10 - 05:57 pm
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Well said Chllen! I think

Well said Chllen! I think back on my father's time, when the "Greatest Generation" stood on their own two feet, sacrificed during WWII, and managed to defeat both the Nazi's and the Japanese. All without "Free" anything, nor did they whine about not having it. I remember my father saying what a wonderful thing the GI bill was, as a way of rewarding the servicemen and women for their service to our country. Now, not even content with Welfare, AFDC, WIC, Medicare, Medicaid, Fannie, Freddie, and a whole host of other handout programs, AND not paying any taxes whatsoever, now, sadly, this 47% has degenerated into a generation of whiners, who now will also get free health care paid for by you know who. Pathetic. Well, your ideas are, imho, outstanding sir!

Padfoot
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Padfoot 04/13/10 - 07:25 pm
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Here, here, Chillen!!! I

Here, here, Chillen!!! I totally agree with you. If you can't support yourself, move in and be a burden to your family and friends--not the American taxpayers! And why do we feel so sorry for the lawn mowers, servers, and hair cutters? If they don't like their salaries, why didn't they plan better? Why didn't they prepare for better-paying jobs with good benefits? If we are having to pay for others, it's because they didn't take care of their business. I am a teacher, and I see so many students who have no drive. The teacher is always attacked, but the students just sit there with a look on their faces that says, "Entertain me!" They don't have the hunger to learn. And why in the h--- are we throwing money at Glenn Hills, Laney, and Josey when I'll bet those who aren't graduating don't care to learn? They show up at school for meals and socializing. I'm sure there are students who are at those schools trying to get an education and a way out of their situation to a better life, but those who don't care and are disrupting the class are stealing the education and opportunities who do want a better life. I don't know what the answer is. Removing those distracting students from the school only puts them on the streets to get in trouble and eventually meet us face-to-face to an unwilling handout at gunpoint. The work ethic and personal responsibility is almost gone! I truly regret the negative thoughts, but I'm very concerned about our future!

seenitB4
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seenitB4 04/14/10 - 05:04 am
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We continue the cycle of

We continue the cycle of poverty with our give-a-way programs..In AJC yesterday there was a very good article about this.. One reason the AA have so many single parents is because the benefits would be slashed if they marry. So we all know that isn't working for the nation BUT we dont have the guts (leaders) to change this. We continue to keep on w/the insanity & hope for the best. It doesn't work-CHANGE IT! Believe me I know this goes for ALL Americans not just AAs.

brayton99
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brayton99 04/14/10 - 05:43 am
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the time has come that people

the time has come that people take responsibility for their actions. good for you. don't make excusses, come up with solutions.

Kitten35
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Kitten35 04/23/10 - 02:08 pm
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Personal responsibility is a

Personal responsibility is a great idea in theory.

However, in light of the article brought to light today about the financiers viewing porn for the majority of the workday--and keep in mind, this happens all day every day for a lot of people--and all sorts of other injustices we guise as "Constitutional Rights" (and if they aren't, we make them one by putting it under the umbrella of 'unlimited freedom of whatever'), we have a long way to go until can get rid of the nanny part of the nanny government.

Accountability would be amazing. 10 to 1 no one will want to sign their name on the website they viewed today, or own up to their shortcomings, though, and people would put up all kinds of 'fuss' about being responsible. Clearly, we can't all embrace responsibility.

Guess the government will have to keep regulating it until we are ready to do so.

ron_rlw
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ron_rlw 04/23/10 - 02:15 pm
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Kitten35 ... what you are

Kitten35 ... what you are forgetting that if SEC were making the financiers responsibility for their action ... they would have been fired long ago and the SEC would have be a more efficient operation. It is the fact these folks felt like they didn't need to take responsibility for their action is the very reason why they were able to get away with it for so long.

The same holds true for the whole bank failure ... no body believed they were responsible.

As far as government regulation being the answer ... what exactly is the SEC? ... I don't think it is a private organizatio ... do you?

The US Constitution restricts the rights of the federal government (ie 10th Amendment) but does not restict the rights of the individual and local government except as specifically stated in the US Constitution (again 10th Amendment)

Kitten35
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Kitten35 04/23/10 - 03:31 pm
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@ ron_rlw: You can't blame

@ ron_rlw:
You can't blame porn on the government. What happened at the SEC happens EVERY DAY in non-government run agencies and private companies. (Hugh Hefner certainly wasn't employed by the government, either!) People who think this porn or sex scandals only happen to the rich and the famous are flat out wrong. It happens in relationships, marriages, and families every day, both in and out of the workplace.

We seem to be incapable of doing what is just and right and rather, doing what we want when we want it, consequences be "darned."

Hence, the need for some sort of regulation. Heaven forbid we remove what little there is, or we would suddenly be condoning mass murder and genocide as freedom of expression. They've already condoned "snuff films" as a protected constitutional right. (see the BBC, Mark Mardell). Scary. The answer does not lie within legislation, on either side. It lies with integrity. Standing up. Owning your wrongs.

"ooooh but that means my freedom and entitlement to view whatever I want online, regardless of who was harmed in the process, is restricted! I can't pack an arsenal and my own private nuke in my backyard! Before you know it the government is here to infringe on my personal choices! They're going to make the leap from large general restrictions to my own home!" Right...

Yes, that's what I'm saying. Some regulations are not bad and do not limit freedom. I know, what a rebel and a crazy liberal, right? Gasp.

Kitten35
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Kitten35 04/23/10 - 03:29 pm
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Oh...and just because the

Oh...and just because the government does not restrict your personal freedom does not mean in some cases they shouldn't. Just because the porn is out there and the freedom to view it is there....should you? If it has detrimental effects on society (over 50% divorce over THIS ISSUE), should it be regulated? If it is proven to be bad for you and those engaging in it, just because you "CAN" does not mean you should. And just because they don't regulate it doesn't mean that's a good thing.

Kitten35
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Kitten35 04/23/10 - 03:30 pm
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And just because you

And just because you "shouldn't" doesn't necessairily mean that since you can, it must be an entitlement or a constitutional right. Pretty sure unlimited access porn or anything else was not what the founding fathers meant by "the right to happiness."

ron_rlw
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ron_rlw 04/23/10 - 04:07 pm
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Kitten … go back and re-read

Kitten … go back and re-read my post … I didn’t blame porn on the government. You inferred that the answer is more government … I was just pointing out that this is an example of a government agency in action and how it failed. In other words the government isn’t automatically the answer.

I can agree that “some regulations are not bad” … but all regulations do limit freedom.

ron_rlw
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ron_rlw 04/23/10 - 04:12 pm
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You are correct … just

You are correct … just because we have right to do something does not necessarily mean it is a Constitutional right. However, the US Constitution sets the limits of the federal government and if the federal government over steps those limits then they have stepped on our constitutional rights.

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