Thursday, July 30, 2009

Personal Responsibility Encourages Smaller Government

So I was thinking recently about how there are so many stupid rules and regulations we encounter in our everyday lives.  For example, laws are being passed right now that prohibit people from texting on their cell phones while driving.  Being the libertarian I am, I tend to instinctively attack the overbearing legislature that passed that law.  But the law would be unnecessary if those kind of people had some common sense and waited until they could pull over or were parked to respond to their texts.  Better yet, have a passenger respond to it.

But the origin of the issue is that a bunch of people, though in the minority, pose a threat to the well-being of the rest of us and therefore people instinctively look to the government to find a solution.  My Bible reading today involved the later chapters of Genesis where Joseph was dealing with the seven year famine after the seven years of plenty.  He had already instructed Pharaoh to save huge stores of grain, so he was selling the food to the people during the famine.  But eventually, the people could not pay money, so they paid with livestock.  And when their livestock ran out, they paid with servitude and land.  In essence, Joseph set up the conditions where the people were stuck in servitude to their government.

If the Egyptians had been responsible, if they had saved their money and food in the times of plenty, then they would not have had to come to the government for their food.  At the very least, they would not have burned through their own livelihood in order to buy food.  Instead, because many of them lacked common sense, where in times of good fortunate you should save in order to prepare for when it ends, they ended up becoming slaves of the government.

In a modern context, you should be working toward a time when you will not be able to work, for whatever reason.  Saving for retirement and medical bills are a must, especially if you are under 55 years old because I am almost certain that Social Security and Medicare will be running sooner than anyone anticipates.  Personal responsibility requires that you not burden complete strangers because you lacked the foresight to see yourself growing old.  Right now, I am working Dave Ramsey’s Seven Baby Steps and plan to find and pay for individual medical insurance for me and my family.  Corporate insurance is nice, but when you leave the company you work for, you end up paying 100% of the premium after taxes.  Doing so will allow me to build a concrete history with my insurer and allow them to charge me and my family appropriately.

But personal responsibility is more than just financial matters.  It is about making sure that your choices do not place unnecessary burden on others and it is about ensuring that you take responsibility for your own poor choices.  In a word, it is about integrity.  If you have it, you will be successful in your life and lead a life that others can look up to.  If you lack it, your life will be one disaster after another with everyone else to blame but the real culprit: yourself.

When people behave in this manner, they will look for solutions outside of the government, even in the things they cannot control.  Think about it.  If everyone handled their finances, their driving, their guns, and their children in a responsible, common-sense manner, we have just eliminated most of the government programs out there designed to “protect” us.

So the best way to be conservative is to live a life of responsibility and integrity.  Our elected leaders all have the common trait of being always just behind the attitudes and ideals of the people they represent.  After all, they represent the people who voted for them on a specific date, not the people they are right now.  If you live a life of personal responsibility and integrity, where taking government handouts is discouraged and frowned upon, conservatism will take over.