What's our policy?

Nation faces a choice between responsibility and dependency

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An insurance company’s television ad depicts various people doing the right thing, or just the nice thing, for strangers. The vignettes of kindness are followed by the slogan, “Responsibility – what’s your policy?”

It’s a question that ought to be asked of every one of us.

In fact, it ought to be asked of every new law.

We think it’d be real healthy if Congress decided that every bill it passes would be evaluated for whether it encourages responsibility on the part of Americans – or whether it would grow dependency.

Why not go further and audit every existing government agency, program, rule and regulation with the same thing in mind? Imagine that: an audit of the government, not to find wasted money, but wasted opportunities to allow people to do things for themselves whenever possible, and to become the best that they can be.

In truth, a “responsibility audit” could be deployed in any facet of life, public or private.

The reason to do it is simple: The more we do for ourselves and those around us – the more responsible we are – the less we will depend on others. We’ll be more free, more capable, more accomplished and more likely to chart our own paths in life.

What would a more responsible society look like?

Well ...

You’d likely see fewer divorces, more marriages, more children raised in two-parent homes, more graduations, less crime, less poverty, fewer meaningless relationships, less abortion, a more robust economy, lower taxes, fewer lawsuits, better health, lower health-care costs, less substance abuse, lower insurance costs, longer lives – and much more.

These are not utopian fantasies or pollyanna dreams. They, as are other benefits to society, are logical, real-world outgrowths of responsible behavior. These things are probably achievable: There are plenty of examples of lives well lived, all around you, that are the result, mostly, of responsibility.

Responsibility ought to be an integral part of every school curriculum at every grade level in every class.

When you realize that your adult life is no one else’s responsibility but your own, you’re less likely to sit and wait for someone to come along and solve your problems and right your life. Instead, you’re more likely to climb the corporate ladder, the social ladder or whatever ladder suits you.

It’s amazing the word “responsibility” isn’t heard every day from our leaders. Regrettably, we’ve strayed far afield from John F. Kennedy’s entreaty to, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” Today, our leaders are more apt to tell us what they can do for us, or to point the finger at our fellow citizens for not doing enough for us.

It is inarguable that every law changes human behavior. It’s the whole point of a law, after all. So if lawmakers know they’re changing behavior, why not ask how? Why don’t we ask with every new bill: Will this encourage responsibility or dependency?

This is not a mere academic exercise. According to the Heritage Foundation think tank, one in five Americans depends on Washington for assistance, and “a full 70 percent of the federal government’s budget goes to pay for housing, food, income, student aid, or other assistance.”

In its “2012 Index of Dependence on Government,” Heritage finds:

• Government dependency jumped 8.1 percent in the past year;

• the federal government spent more tax dollars than ever before in 2011 to subsidize Americans;

• and in the next 25 years, more than 77 million baby boomers will retire (and receive benefits they are entitled to).

Certainly, with the economy the way it is, a lot of otherwise work-eager people need help. The problem is that the dependency trend is long-term and growing, and government policies don’t often put limits on it or show the way out of it.

It can’t go on forever. At some point, as it’s been said, you run out of other people’s money.

Ultimately, we’ll need to decide, as citizens and as a nation, what our policy is: responsibility or dependency.

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Riverman1 02/12/12 - 10:21 am
Is this the AES asking for

Is this the AES asking for audits of government deals? Heh, heh, heh.

Conservative Man
Conservative Man 02/12/12 - 11:18 am
Good one river..

Good one river..

impossible 02/12/12 - 11:35 am
Your prescription for the

Your prescription for the redemption of our culture is right on target. Economic health and moral health are intimately related, and that reminds me of Pope Paul VI's predictions for the latter if we failed to heed the principles set forth in his Humanae Vitae encyclical. Liberals in politics and theological liberals are largely responsible for the horrible decline of our economic and moral welfare. Intelligent men/women may be presumed to intend the consequences of their words, silence, action and inaction. The assault on our Constitution, freedom of religion, on religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular are illustrative of the intent of our current President and Democrat Senate. Unemployed Democrat voters, the poor, especially Blacks, trapped on the government “Dependency Plantation” and clergy who have supported liberal politicians over the years are now experiencing the truism, "If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas."

impossible 02/12/12 - 12:25 pm
The following articles from a

The following articles from a secular publication support the position in my prior comment:
Time To Admit It: The Church Has Always Been Right On Birth Control
Michael Brendan Dougherty and Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry|February 08, 2012|
Obama Declares War On The Catholic Church: An Explainer
Michael Brendan Dougherty|Feb. 7, 2012, 3:25 PM|9,916|55

avidreader 02/12/12 - 12:37 pm
Several years ago, I made a

Several years ago, I made a statement to my students. I will paraphrase my words: "You are all accountable for your lives. Your dignity depends on you taking responsibility for yourselves and finding a reasonable path that will contrubute to your self-respect. If you want to be a productive citizen, education is your ticket to success."

A parent called my Principal the next day and was very upset that I had offended her fifteen-year old daughter. The young woman was pregnant, and the mother felt that I had tramped on her daughter's delicate state-of-mind because the daughter was depending on all the free governmental perks DUE to the economically disadvantaged.

My Principal did not make a big deal about the phone call, but he did give me some advise -- Don't ever say anything to your kids that may be construed as a slam toward those receiving welfare benefits.

I was very confused, but I followed his advice.

harley_52 02/12/12 - 09:09 pm
Your Principal is a weakly

Your Principal is a weakly principled individual who doesn't understand the role of "teacher" in a child's development. Similarly, the pregnant girl's mother doesn't understand the role of "parent."

JustAJoe 02/21/12 - 03:47 pm
Teaching responsibility

Teaching responsibility sounds great, so does teaching healthy eating habits, about a million other "good" things that have been loaded on our schools to do. We wonder why we are falling behind other countries in math and reading when these countries schools actually spend all their time teaching math and reading? I say let the schools educate and let the parents be responsible for bringing up their kids, not some government agency.

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