Entitlement, Dependency, Control

Responsibility isn’t something people are born with. It’s learned. It’s learned by prioritizing, making tradeoffs, weighing the benefits, costs, and risks of alternative courses of action, and dealing with the consequences of one’s decisions.

When an overprotective parent spoils their child by shielding them from hard lessons, or gives the child whatever it wants so the child will love them more, they fail to instill in the child a sense of responsibility. Instead they encumber it with a false sense of entitlement to whatever the child desires. Later, the child is faced with a rude awakening when thrust into a world where it has to compete with others who are accustomed to making hard choices and working for the things they desire.

Once a sense of entitlement is engrained in someone’s belief system, it’s difficult to overcome. Developing a sense of responsibility is counter to their conditioning, and they cannot easily grasp the notion that they are really not entitled to anything they haven’t earned. When something doesn’t come easily, instead of getting fired up with a sense of determination to work harder and make the necessary sacrifices to achieve their goal, they feel resentful that it isn’t provided for them. Whatever nominal effort they put into it seems like it ought to be enough. They feel a deep sense of personal injustice that they can’t have things that other people have, oblivious to the tradeoffs and sacrifices others have had to make to acquire those things.

In the real world, nobody is entitled to own a house. If you can’t afford a house, the responsible thing to do is to work and save and sacrifice until you can afford to buy one. By encouraging people to buy houses they really can’t afford, the government sets them up for failure later on when the house payments become a burden they cannot sustain. And when that time comes, the “homeowners” won’t consider that, until their mortgage is paid in full, the house isn’t actually theirs. Instead, they’ll feel entitled to the house in which they’re living, and deeply resentful of losing it.

A person who buys a house incurs a responsibility. If they’re shielded from the full impact of the responsibility they’re incurring, by making it easier than it would be (in a free market) for them to assume it, it gives them a false sense of security and makes the responsibility seem lighter than it is. That is not a wise thing to do. And the current economic crisis is a perfect illustration of that folly. Yet the government is going down the same path again, with the FHA taking on the role once played by AIG.

This is just one of many examples of the government fostering an entitlement mentality in its citizens. Perhaps, like the parent who spoils their child in an attempt to buy its love, politicians see this as a way to buy votes. But, like overprotective parents trying to make life easier for their precious dumplings, when government shields people from the onus of personal responsibility, it does not strengthen them; it weakens them. And it not only weakens the individual beneficiaries of the government’s largesse, it weakens the entire economy, and the underlying moral fiber of our nation.

For years, our government has been actively encouraging people to become less and less self-reliant. By the same token, it has been making us more and more dependent on government. The flip side of dependency is control. The more dependent one is on another, the more control the other has over them. Perhaps the underlying motivation is not so innocent as politicians trying to buy their constituents’ love. Perhaps it’s far more insidious.

The current crisis in our nation is not just an economic crisis. It has far broader implications. The only way out of this crisis is to bring about a fundamental change. — Not the kind of change that accelerates the crisis, leading to ever more weakness, dependency, and state control, but a return to the once deeply-held values that made this country great: personal responsibility, individual sovereignty, and economic freedom.


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Rise Up and Take a Stand


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Freedom is Not a Pendulum

The periodic swings from one party to the other in control of our government often give rise to the analogy of a pendulum. A pendulum swings from one side to the other, always passing through the equilibrium position at its center. This flawed analogy leads to the illusion that our country’s political swings from left to right also pass through a stable center that is fixed and permanent.

History belies that illusion. Throughout the history of civilization, there has never been a government that did not eventually come to an end, either through defeat in war or corrosion from within. The Roman Republic lasted 500 years before it gave way to the Roman Empire, and that too collapsed after a few hundred more years. Ancient history? Yes, indeed. But the rate of social, political, industrial, technological, and cultural changes on the global scale have accelerated, not decelerated, from ancient to modern times. Change happens much more rapidly than it used to.

We think of our government, and our nation, as permanent and impervious to destruction from without or within. That is a comfortable, but naive and historically insupportable, perspective. This country has only existed for a couple of hundred years. It will not exist forever. It too, like all other governments and nations, will someday decline or be overthrown by an enemy. Most of us cannot conceive of the demise of our country and the way of life we’ve taken for granted from birth, so we don’t believe such a thing could happen, — at least not in our lifetimes. But nobody ever realizes they’re living in a historically significant period until it reaches the tipping point and cataclysmic change is suddenly thrust upon them.

In spite of the dire, and oft-repeated, warnings of our founding fathers, the size and scope of our government has continually increased from the founding of our nation until now. For the first hundred and fifty years, the expansion was slow and gradual, with each incremental transfer of power to centralized authority a result of prolonged deliberation and strenuous debate. In the last half century, government expansion has accelerated dramatically, and continues to accelerate at an unprecedented rate. The president and Congress now sign bills into law without even bothering to read them!

Along with the increasing momentum of government expansion, we’ve also seen a pronounced trend toward more and more socialist programs and policies. By that, I mean state control of production and distribution, and increasing regulation of industry and of individual rights. The “pendulum” may still swing to one side or the other, but the center point is moving, and it’s moving ever more rapidly. We are straying further and further from the principles on which our founding fathers established this nation. When government takes power away from the people to determine what’s in their best interests, that power does not swing back to the people, like a pendulum. The balance of power is permanently shifted from the people to the government, making it easier for government to usurp even more power in the future.

History informs us that the decline and fall of our nation will eventually come to pass. But history doesn’t tell us when or how. We are on a trajectory toward the termination of the greatest and most successful experiment in freedom the world has ever known. We could stand back and idly watch it slip away and, afterward, wonder where it went. Or we could wake up and start waking up our friends and neighbors, and impress upon them what is at stake.

In his farewell address on March 4, 1837, Andrew Jackson said:

But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing. It behooves you, therefore, to be watchful in your States as well as in the Federal Government.

We, the people, may have it within our power to stave off the inevitable expiration of our nation by exchanging complacency for vigilance, and apathy for involvement. How long we can maintain it is unknown. But it rests with us to at least pass it on to the next generation. What happens after that is up to them.


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