Thursday, November 27, 2008

Attitude Adjustment

I had an interesting thought the other day. I almost left my purse in a restaurant. Scared me, because my purse is (like most women's purses) full of "stuff" I need; including a credit card (or two), my debit card, and other personal "stuff." Fortunately, I noticed the lack of significant weight on my shoulder and went back for the thing within 2 or 3 minutes. It was exactly where I left it, on the back of my chair. Fortunately! Anyway, my lack of attention made me think about people. Some people would have seen my unattended purse as an opportunity and felt somehow "entitled" to take whatever the opportunity provided. Others would have seen my purse as a duty and tried to find out who owned the thing and get it back to me. So what makes the two people have such differing attitudes? Is it upbringing? Is it genetics? Is it socialization?

I'm not sure I know why people would have such differing attitudes about an unattended purse; but I see the same sort of attitudes on a larger scale in today's society. For example, some people see government as a place where they can get free handouts. These people label the handouts "entitlements" and think that the government is obligated to give them something for nothing. Maybe that's what's behind the "bailout craze." Everyone seems to want the government to bail them out of bad decisions or difficult circumstances. They want something for nothing, and do not want to face consequences for their own decisions.

Other people believe that government has a duty to provide a certain level of infrastructure and support to our society and its citizens, but they also believe that they have a reciprocal duty to the government or to society. These people know that there is always a cost, of some sort or another. These people know that bailouts will have consequences, at some point in time. They know that bank bailouts, business bailouts, or personal bailouts only postpone the inevitable consequences, and does not eliminate them.

So where did this "bailout-everything" attitude come from? Does it come from the idea that government must "fix" all of society's ills? Does it come from the idea that government "owes" it to save us from the consequences of our bad decisions? If so, where did these ideas come from? What happened to the idea that people are responsible for their own decisions and actions? What happened to the idea of individual accountability? It scares me that we are allowing our society (which is based on freedom, and its counterpart responsibility) to shift focus to a society based on entitlement and lack of accountability. The society that will exist down that road will not be one that we recognize as "American." We need to adjust our collective attitudes before it's too late!


Anonymous said...

Bailing the boat only postpones the sinking! They had buckets on the Titanic too, they were just too smart to use them.

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