Is Personal Responsibility Passe?

When marriages get difficult, people “bail out” by divorcing, and flippantly propose that the kids will be fine.  When school children are failing classes, the tendency in American education is to drop standards on performance examinations, drop the tests altogether, or punish the hard-working children by eliminating valedictorian status.  When folks decide that their business or financial situation isn’t paying off, they declare bankruptcy and ultimately give the bird to those who trusted them enough to do business with them.  When the auto industry makes cars that aren’t popular, Congress votes to bail them out financially.  When mortgage companies and banks loan trillions of dollars to people who can’t possibly pay their monthly bills, we have a world-wide financial crisis requiring the average, hard-working citizen to give up his or her compensation to save the day.  When people do stupid things, like put hot coffee between their legs while driving a car, a company has to pay out from its profits to compensate for a customer’s irresponsibility.

This is not really about finances.  As many have pointed out, during the Great Depression, unemployment was higher than 20%, and people found themselves unable to pay their bills through no fault of their own.  This is 2008, and unemployment is about 5%, and people find themselves unable to pay their bills totally by their own fault!  Why?  Because they want to live a lifestyle they have not yet earned.

This is about character and honor as well as the philosophy of earning your blessings.  I have told many a parent not to buy a home for their newlywed children, because they would be robbing them of something to work towards together, in addition to the thrill of the accomplishment.

Dozens of CEOs are walking away from disasters they helped create with hundreds of millions of dollars of “reward.”  Millions of Americans are walking away from the disasters they greedily and irresponsibly signed up for by putting their names to a promise they could not keep.

This is not the American spirit of old, and it’s certainly not the way to bring up our young people.  I hope they have learned from this.   Instead, I worry they’re just blaming the Wall Street fat cats or the Federal government.  To quote Shakespeare:  “the fault lies not in our stars…but in ourselves.”