Friday, February 08, 2008

Personal Responsibility

"If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting." ~ Benjamin Franklin

The following is just something I was thinking about yesterday while driving.

(Uh, still no spell check available with Blogger, so bear with any spelling mistakes you see. I accept responsibilty for my mistakes and if you correct me, I will gratefully oblige, and will not place blame on anyone but myself.)

Liberals need to get over the fact that some people have wealth and some people don't. It is a fact of life that some people are just better at making money and keeping it than others. These are people who take advantage of positive opportunities and don't give up when adversities happen.

Then there are those who just don't care. They are the ones who don't accept responsibility for themselves, and expect--nay--demand the Government give them money for free and with no strings attached. This is the result of well-meaning Liberals, who believe they can solve all problems by throwing money at them.

They have, through their misguided sense of altruism, created in many people an entitlement mentality.

Libs assume that we are stupid, and since we are incapable of taking care of ourselves, the elites in Government must take care of us. The inescapable problem with this assumption is this:

The money to pay for these has to come from somewhere. Liberals apparently think that the Goverment coffers are bottomless. Or more accurately, they think the taxpayers (That's us. The working people) pockets are bottomless. They reason, "If we don't have enough money in the budget, all we have to do is raise taxes until we do have enough."

The entitlement mentality will insure that there will never be "enough".

Welfare has been bastardized. It was never intended to be used to support thousands or millions of lazy people who won't accept any responsibility. It was originally intended to help people who genuinely needed help when they find themselves in seemingly hopeless situations.

It was intended to be a hand up, not a hand out.

I believe in personal responsibility. If I make numerous mistakes, and by those mistakes make myself poor, I take responsibility for the consequences of my mistakes. I do not expect, nor do I demand help. From anybody. I will not allow myself to depend on America's taxpayers to bail me out when I do something stupid.

Admittedly, if someone offered to help me when I have problems, I would gratefully accept, and then do everything in my power to repay the debt, even if my benefactor insists I don't have to repay him. I feel small and inadequate if i am unable to take care of myself due to stupid and irresponsibile mistakes or bad decisions that I, personally, have made.

If I succeed, I take the credit. If I fail, I take the blame. That is what personal responsibility means.

The wealthy are generally wealthy because of they work hard, take calculated risks, and make wise decisions. Those few who were born into wealth cannot stay wealthy by being irresponsible and/or lazy. So, even they have some sense of responsibility.

Those who became wealthy by sheer luck and chance--like those who win a lottery-- usually lose everything because they have never learned personal responsibility.

Remember that man in West Virginia? He won the biggest single lottery prize in history and blew it all with horrendous decision making. Instead of investing his winnings wisely he began spending like a drunken sailor. He used his money up on drinking and gambling, etc. He left large bundles of cash in his pick-up truck in the parking lot of the local strip bar, and was surprised to find it gone when he returned. Twice.

I find it disturbing that some people resent those who are wealthier than them simply out of envy. If it upsets you so much that others are wealthy, do something to create your own personal wealth. If you aren't ambitious enough to do what you have to do to make that happen, shut up.

People who resent the wealthy because they themselves feel they were dealt a bad hand are misguided. Wealthy people are to be respected for their ability to create and keep wealth.

People who sit on their duffs and complain that the Government doesn't hand them enough are not to be pitied. They are to be despised.

27 comments:

Dan Trabue said...

Mark, if you'd ever like to discuss some of the issues you're raising let me know. I think you raise many important and interesting issues.

But given our history of my making comments here, it seems you prefer to just rant about "liberals" and others that don't exist who believe things that no one believes - in other words, you prefer to knock down strawmen.

And I understand, sometimes you just want to rant about problems, not really discuss them. That's fine, we all do that.

But let me know if you ever really DO want to discuss some of these issues. They're important matters to work on where all caring, decent Americans need to come together to work for the good of our nation.

Just let me know.

Mark said...

I'll let you comment, Dan. After all, I had you in mind when I was thinking about all the people in this country who suffer from a misguided case of class envy. You have a major problem with rich people or, if you don't, you do a pretty darn good impression.

Dan Trabue said...

Brotherman, I AM rich people.

I have no class envy. I've never said anything to suggest I'm envious of those as wealthy as I am (very) or of those even wealthier than I am.

Where would you get that idea?

Because I advocate a simpler lifestyle, do you think that means I'm envious of wealthy people?

Because I advocate stopping corporate welfare, do you think that means I'm envious of wealthy people?

Because I advocate living responsibly and within our means as individuals and a nation, does that mean I'm envious?

Because I think it wise to invest in things like education or rehabilitation instead of paying later for things like crime, under- and unemployment and prisons, does that mean I'm envious?

I'm just curious how you reached that opinion.

Not that it matters to the conversation at hand, it just seems odd to me. I suspect sometimes, Mark, that you are reading things into what I say that simply aren't there.

Edwin Drood said...

What sets our system apart from others is ones ability to get rich without taking money from someone else. People get wealthy every day and it has no impact on me. They didn't take my money to get wealthy (not counting lawyers)

Mark said...

Oh God! I am not going to go searching through all the comments you have made on my blog and other people's blogs, too, just to show you where I came to that conclusion. You should know what you say you believe.

Suffice it to say that I have read so many comments from you blaming the "evil rich" on society's problems that you have left one with no other conclusion than this.

If you indeed don't suffer from class envy you surely had me fooled.

Cameron said...

I think definitions are in order.

What does "welfare" mean?

What does "corporate welfare" mean?

What does "rich" and "wealthy" mean?

What does "living responsibly and within our means as individuals and a nation" mean?

I think we can end up talking past each other because we use words that mean different things to different people.

Cameron said...

This post, and Edwin Drood's comment, reminded me of a political tract that was passed around Utah a year or so ago whose purpose was to explain the fundamentals of the Democratic Party. This tract is the basis for the rest of my comment.

The Democratic Party, from its roots in Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, believes that "wealth" is created by the worker, and that the majority of that wealth is then transferred to the employer. Unduly so, they argue. It is then up to government, through taxation and regulation, to ensure that the worker gets the wealth they are entitled to.

It seems to me that this philosophy is the basis for the welfare and tax policy that the Democratic Party endorses.

Dan Trabue said...

Suffice it to say that I have read so many comments from you blaming the "evil rich" on society's problems that you have left one with no other conclusion than this.

But isn't it more likely, Mark, that you've read something into stuff that I've never said? I am telling you right now, man to man, Christian to Christian, that I have no class envy. I'm striving to make my life downwardly mobile, not upwardly mobile.

I'm telling you right now, brother to brother, citizen to citizen, what I have stated before clearly: I don't hate the wealthy. I AM wealthy and I don't hate myself, nor do I hate others who are wealthy.

What I HAVE done before is to point to the multiplicity of biblical passages that say things like "Woe to you who are wealthy!," "Is it not the rich who exploit you?" "The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil," "The sin of Sodom was her wealth and complacency towards the poor," etc, etc, etc - I've pointed to those and said that I agree with the Biblical conclusion that wealth is a trap to be watched out for.

I've pointed to those sorts of passages and said that we ought NOT participate in unjust systems, in systems that oppress the poor.

But since you're a bible-believing man, I imagine that you agree with me on all that. So, perhaps it's just been my tone that for some reason made you think I was saying things that I don't believe - since there has never been in anything that I have written - EVER - anything to suggest I hate the rich or am envious of the rich.

I'm just asking for fairness in our conversations so that we can work on areas where we mutually agree - that people ought to work (and have the opportunity to work) to support themselves, that people ought to live responsibly and especially those who can afford it ought not be subsidized by the gov't, etc, etc.

There are no liberal monsters out there. No more than there are conservative monsters. Just folk who are striving to do the right thing.

Mark said...

What does "welfare" mean?

A Government program that distributes money and benefits to the underpriveledged, which, since it's inception, has been bastardized to mean "hand outs to the lazy and irresponsible".

What does "corporate welfare" mean?

I don't know. Maybe Dan can explain it.

What does "rich" and "wealthy" mean?

Anyone who has more money than me. It is a relative term. 100 million dollars is a drop in the proverbial bucket to Bill Gates. To me, anyone that has 100 million is wealthy.

What does "living responsibly and within our means as individuals and a nation" mean?

To me, it means not wasting money you can't afford to waste. I'm sure Dan has a different definition.

Mark said...

There you have it, Dan. You take the Bible out of context making it seem to indicate that God prefers the poor over the rich, when nothing could be further from the truth. God loves all people, regardless of their financial situation.

Remember, it isn't money per se that is the root of all evil. It is the Love of money (over God) that is the root of all evil.

Dan Trabue said...

There you have it, Dan. You take the Bible out of context making it seem to indicate that God prefers the poor over the rich, when nothing could be further from the truth. God loves all people, regardless of their financial situation.

No. There YOU have it, Mark. You have found something in my words that I did not say. At all.

Did I SAY that God prefers the rich over the poor? Did I SAY that God doesn't love all people?

You are reading things into what I'm saying that simply aren't there, brother. Can't you just say, "Dan, you said X and it SEEMS like you mean Y or Z - is that true?" or even better, just assume that when I say X, I mean X?

I did not take the Bible out of context, I offered some pretty exact quotes and then I said:

I've pointed to those and said that I agree with the Biblical conclusion that wealth is a trap to be watched out for. and also:

we ought NOT participate in unjust systems, in systems that oppress the poor.

Do you disagree that this is a biblical teaching? If so, say, "Dan, I think that concluding that the Bible teaches wealth is a trap to be watched out for (or that we ought not oppress the poor) is an incorrect conclusion..." and then offer reasons why you think I'm off on that point.

But don't take my words and assume I mean something ENTIRELY different than what I said. It makes communication more difficult than it need be.

Dan Trabue said...

I'm fine with some basic definitions:

welfare: Financial or other aid provided, especially by the government, to people in need.

corporate welfare: Financial or other aid provided, especially by the government, to corporations in need.

wealthy: having great wealth; rich; affluent

Living responsibly and within our means: I don't have a dictionary definition for this one, but I'd suggest it means, if we have $1 million in income, we don't spend more than $1 million.

It means not throwing my garbage, toxins, pollution in others' air, ground or water.

It means living within the grounds of natural law - not taking that which isn't ours, not spending that which isn't ours, not handing off debt to our children, not taking actions that we know will harm others.

Are those reasonable definitions?

Dan Trabue said...

Perhaps some specific language and examples of corporate welfare would help.

The Cato Institute (a rightwing, free-market think tank) calls for Congress to end corporate welfare by asking that they:

*end programs that provide direct grants to businesses,

*end programs that provide marketing and other commercial services to businesses,

*end programs that provide subsidized loans and insurance to businesses,

*eliminate foreign trade barriers that tryto protect U.S. industries from foreign competition at the expense of U.S. consumers,

*eliminate domestic regulatory barriers that favor particular companies with monopoly power against competitors, and

*create financial transparency with a detailed listing in the federal budget of companies that received direct business subsidies and the amounts received

I can agree with Cato on these points.

Some specific examples:

Right now, if you have a business, you can purchase a $72,000 Range Rover, have a deduction of about $45,000 the first year, for a tax savings of more than $16,000.

source

or, tell you what, check it out yourself. Here's a whole list of corporate welfare examples from 1999:

http://www.citizen.org/congress/welfare/articles.cfm?ID=1053

Mark said...

Ok. That's enough, Dan. This post has nothing to do with Corporations. It's about Personal Responsibility. If people who own Corporations were not personally responsible they wouldn't own those corporations for long. No more off topic comments.

Dan Trabue said...

I'll have to own up that I'm not able to read your mind. If you state, "Perhaps Dan can explain it," I'll assume you are asking me to answer a question.

Is that fair enough?

Cameron said...

Sorry Mark, I asked for the definition of corporate welfare. Thank you Dan for the thorough response.

I admit to not having read through all of the links yet, but just using your first example, the following sentence jumps out:

"for a tax savings of more than $16,000."

That's tax savings. The small business is incentivized to spend its money because if they don't they'll just have to give it to the government instead. So the government sets up its tax structure to ensure that business puts its money back into the economy. The business is out the money either way, they just now have the choice to give it to the car dealer or to the tax collector.

For example, my mom is a piano teacher. Some years ago her accountant told her that she owed a lot of income tax. In order to avoid this tax, they decided to buy a grand piano. Now, my mom was still out a considerable sum of money, but now she has a cool piano that helps in her teaching and recitals and getting new students. Plus, she had to buy it from somewhere, who had to ship it from somewhere, where they had to build it. All of this is what makes the economy hum. Or, she could have given it to the government instead. My mom is a beneficiary of "corporate welfare". In fact, I have many family members that are.

But, how is this different, or more wrong, than taking the mortgage interest deduction when you file your personal taxes?

"Corporate welfare" is the same philosophy that Congress is using with its emergency stimulus package. Cut taxes so that people have more money to make the economy hum.

Cameron said...

Dan-

How do you reconcile the following two statements?

"...It means living within the grounds of natural law - not taking that which isn't ours, not spending that which isn't ours, not handing off debt to our children, not taking actions that we know will harm others..."

"...welfare: Financial or other aid provided, especially by the government, to people in need...."

Isn't gov't welfare a form of taking that which isn't ours? How is it that my vote can take your money and give it to someone else, or even to myself? No matter how worthy a purpose it might serve, it still violates the natural law you describe.

Neil said...

Hey Mark - I selected you for a Thinking blogger award - congratulations and keep up the good work!

http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2008/02/08/the-thinking-blogger-award/

Abouna said...

One of the definitions that Dan Trabue gave for Living responsibly within our means was; "not spending that which isn't ours," Well, isn't that exactly what the government does when it taxes wage earners up the yin-yang so that they can give it to those that didn't, through all sorts of social program handouts?

Oh I know that many liberals claim that it is the moral thing to do, but is it right and moral to coerce people into giving to help the poor? Shouldn't the giving be from the heart and done willingly? How can it merit the soul when the good deed is forced?

When I was a little kid, we didn't have welfare. It was the various churches and religious organizations that took care of the poor, and they did a dang good job of it. Then the government decided that they needed to usurp that and take over with their Social Services, welfare handouts using taxpayer money. What did that do? It gave us a whole new generation of Americans that now have a "You owe me," "We deserve it" mentality.

mudkitty said...

Ben Franklin was a liberal.

BB-Idaho said...

"They (liberals) reason, "If we don't have enough money in the budget, all we have to do is raise taxes until we do have enough."
The GOP alternative is to simply borrow and triple the national debt. Wanna guess who's going to be paying for that debt?

Marie's Two Cents said...

How the hell much are we suppose to pay for others personel responsibility?

Where does it end?

When does it stop?

It seems like my paycheck is garnished every week for someone eleses choices!

I dont mean to sound radical but why should I have to pay for Mary around the block's gohnorreah treatment?

I mean there has got to be a line drawn somehwere, where us working folk dont have to pay for anyone but ourselves!

Unless of course we contribute to a cause of our choosing. Until then My money should be mine.

I earned it, and I have grown accustomed to it, and damnit I would like to keep it.

If Mary got herself into some wild behavior that wound up with her getting a Venereal Disease (For Instance) why on God's green earth should I have to pay for it?

Just a Valid question to me!

Marshall Art said...

"They (liberals) reason, "If we don't have enough money in the budget, all we have to do is raise taxes until we do have enough."

The GOP alternative is to simply borrow and triple the national debt. Wanna guess who's going to be paying for that debt?


Seems the difference between the two is that one pays up front or after the fact. Either way the general population pays.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

For the purpose of clarity, please state if you are among the upper ten percent of citizens net worth-wise, or, are you in the top tax bracket, or, simply state your net worth to give us an idea of what you consider "wealthy". Your use of terms is often far from common usage.

"Dan, I think that concluding that the Bible teaches wealth is a trap to be watched out for...is an incorrect conclusion..."

I don't think it teaches any such thing. All your exerpts refer to greed. One needn't be wealthy to be greedy. In fact, I'd wager all of us here have encountered more greedy people not of the wealthy class than those who are wealthy. Might great wealth and power corrupt? Of course. But in context, it's obvious the message is "greed bad", not "wealth is dangerous". Generally, those who are wealthy and greedy would be just as greedy without the dough. Your notion that wealth has the power to corrupt automatically, rather than mankind being susceptable to temptations such as greed is one indication of an aversion to wealth and the wealthy. This is the perception your words provoke, being as how they are often used in such strange ways.

I hope this helps.

Marshall Art said...

Mark,

Great topic upon which to expound. Personal responsibility is often discussed without anything done to develop it. One side of the two Americas of which John Edwards loves to remind us is populated with those who have abdicated this trait in favor of government largesse, paid for by the rest of us.

Ya know, recent events at the J.O.B. have stoke the fire of motivation in me to once again seek out a better way. But the fact that I'm in the pickle I am is due to my own actions or lack of action; my own choices, good or bad. I wallow a bit in self-pity for the sorry state of my personal affairs, but I can't sustain such parties for the knowledge that I am exactly where someone who moves as I did should be. Every action I've taken thus far, or every action I've failed to take, every choice I've made one way or the other, was just what I needed to do to be here as I am. In that I am a complete success. Now if I expected great fiduciary rewards for my efforts, why then I'd be a chump on top of it because I did not engage in behaviors that lead to great wealth. So I am what I am because all I've done made me so. I really have no right to seek assistance because a little better effort would have made life better. Thus, I have accepted responsibility for my current position in life.

There are some that encourage others to be content with their lot. I don't understand this. It is human nature to want comfort. Some gain it by simply doing nothing, thereby eliminating stress or pain. Others seek ways to inure it, basically through wealth creation. This ambition is taking responsibility in a big way. It can manifest in illegal ways, but it never has to. As long as serving the ambition doesn't take the place of serving God, it's all good. As wealth is attained, then serving one's fellow man is more easily doable.

Doing nothing, on the other hand, is not Godly in any sense. It sets one up for victimhood should catastrophic events occur. One becomes a burden to others in this case. It is hard not to be a burden when one is unwilling to develop self-sufficiency. It doesn't take much to break the bank. Seems like a worse trap than wealth. At the least, such impositions upon others seems to me to be every bit as wicked as greedy rich dudes.

Erudite Redneck said...

Anyone able to comment here, even on a public library computer, is wealthy by global standards,

Camels, eyes, needles, ya know.

Marshall Art said...

"Anyone able to comment here, even on a public library computer, is wealthy by global standards,"

That's the angle Dan takes as well, but I don't think such reminders have any value other than to those among us who might whine constantly that they aren't paid enough. (By "whining" I refer to those who believe they do enough to demand more pay when they don't, rather than being objective about themselves and disciplined to take action toward improving their situation.)

Poverty situations in other countries do not mean anything in a discussion about what is achievable in this country and who takes responsibility for moving toward whatever wealth means to that individual. Those countries suffer nationally from the same affliction that keep individuals down. They could easily adopt the methods and policies that have made our country prosperous as each of us could adopt the methods and ethics of those among us who have prospered.