The right claims it as their battle cry. To oppose it is perceived as horribly infringing on the personal liberties of others. It should not be a goal or a pursuit to be achieved. It is something that is expected of everybody from the time they leave their momma’s care until the grave.
I used to be the same way, but to a lesser degree than appears to be the hue and cry of modern times. I had a general sense that it was the duty of the nation to take care of their own. We ask this of other countries. We should be doing this a matter of principle and example.
Those that seem to be most vocal about this never seem to be the ones that have suffered financial devastation, the destruction of an entire career, catastrophic loss and misfortune or hopelessly insurmountable odds due to a lack of resources. There are anecdotal success stories in the face of adversity; our President is one. Nobody, however, reports or highlights the pain of failures suffered despite Herculean efforts to overcome loss.
That is why I have been surprised to see there have been a couple surprising occurrences in recent times that have contradicted the principle of personal responsibility.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – commonly referred to as Obamacare™. This has been the target of the right since it was passed. Although it is perceived as government run healthcare, it is built on a solid business model that avoids adverse selection. The Medicare and Medicaid programs that are designed to protect the most vulnerable of Americans, are government run healthcare.
Oddly enough, the biggest target of the entire legislation is the portion that demands the most personal responsibility. This would be the portion tagged as the personal mandate. Although Romney’s personal mandate stood unchallenged in Massachusetts, States Attorneys and Republicans immediately went up in arms as an affront to the Constitution. The jury is still out about that, literally.
Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who has been heralded as master of Occam’s razor type arguments, appeared to have faltered in the defense of the individual mandate. Simplicity within an argument is a good idea in a trial before a jury, but precision is critical when addressing Constitutional experts like the Supreme Court. The oral arguments have been presented. It looks very much like the individual mandate is in Constitutional jeopardy, but the ruling is pending and time will tell.
SOPA, PIPA and other intellectual property protections – This appears to be another AstroTurf™ style rebellion initiated by internet profit-making interests to claim impairment of some God given right to pirate and steal intellectual property. The unavoidable opening line to this is invariably “I don’t support piracy, but….” and then feeble arguments that support piracy maintain why intellectual property should not be protected.
Strangely, despite its corporate underpinnings, these arguments seem to oppose personal responsibility predominately from the left. This is simple law enforcement. When a studio invests over ¼ billion dollars in a movie like Avatar with no guaranteed return on investment, principles of business command that this investment be protected from infringement by unregulated international profiteering.
Conclusion – Over all, I’ve been able to determine the overall essence of the personal responsibility argument. Personal responsibility is your job, not mine. Mine is the pursuit of freedom to dodge personal responsibility. Personal responsibility – it’s apparently just another stupid bumper sticker.