It may seem strange to write about a personal trait in a series about the government and its responsibilities. This series has been dedicated to what I think are some of the most important philosophies behind our government. So why a post dedicated to a personal trait found in individuals?
In today's world of buzz words, "accountability" usually means being held responsible for something, and not always in a good way. Holding an employee “accountable for their actions” is a good example. However, personal accountability can also be used to apply to the everyday things. For example, you are "accountable" for your day to day actions. You are "accountable" for your job, your own health, and your happiness. We are not guaranteed happiness, a gold plated health plan, a great job, or even a home. The government doesn't have the duty, or even the power, to provide you with these things. Remember, anything the government can give you, the government can also take away.
I believe the problem with many of our issues today is that we have stopped looking to provide for ourselves. We want someone to give us a nice house, two cars, and a check. If they will take care of us (through "free" healthcare), then maybe we are willing to sacrifice a little freedom for it. The truth of the matter is that you are the one responsible for your life. This is a hard lesson, but life forces all of us to make choices. Some of those choices we may not like, and we may not like the results of some of those choices. However, only you can make those choices, and you are the one responsible for their outcomes. When you let someone else decide your life, you are still responsible for it, because you have given that person or that group the ability to make choices for you.
There may be situations that are beyond your control, but that doesn’t change the fact that you, and not the government, are responsible for your life. If you lose your job, you must decide what to do next, not President Obama. The President can make our nation more or less likely to create new jobs, but for the most part he can’t affect your individual employment.
If there is only one lesson you learn from this series, I hope that it is the following:
You are responsible for your own life, not the government. Your life is what you decide to make of it for better or worse.
You should be an active participant in government so that we can all try to keep the government from throwing roadblocks in our way. You should pay attention to politics and to what candidates do so that you know how the government may affect your life. However, how you react to changes in the government or in your personal life are up to you. These lessons have been forgotten by many in elected positions today. I believe the bailouts under President Bush, and the continued bailouts under President Obama are wrong because they violate this principle. By allowing companies or individuals to be classified as “too big to fail” the government restricts the freedom of those companies and their competitors. When the government provides money to a company to protect it from failing, it suddenly gains power in that company. We can look at GM and the firing of its CEO by the President to see this in real life. The President shouldn’t be able to fire any employee in the private sector.
When the government invests in a company, that company’s competitors are suddenly at a distinct disadvantage. How is it a good idea for the government to decide which companies should be successful and which ones should fail? Those who support the auto bailouts should ask if they would support an oil-industry bailout under President Bush.
Personal Accountability at the personal, corporate, and government level means that we are each responsible for our own successes and failures. The more we forget that, and the more we allow laws to “protect us from ourselves” the more we lose our freedoms. It may feel good to try and protect people from themselves, but there is no way to do that without restricting their freedoms. How many laws would we have on the books today if the laws were clearly spelled out in terms of what that law prevents you from doing instead of what the law might give you?