The rewards of personal responsibility are for real People, not Corporations
A key to American society, life and laws is the idea of Personal Responsibility. But, how can one be personally responsible when the Government, Corporations and the Healthcare Industry walk hand-in-hand-in-hand to take away our personal responsibility by turning us into unwitting, profit-churning serfs? For it is when one is in debt, or faces an uncertain financial future, that their options, and therefore their ability to make choices and be independent are constrained to the point of not having options.
The idea that it is the individual, not the State, that is directly and wholly responsible for one’s own happiness and well-being is a founding principle of our nation. On the surface this sounds idyllic, and in practice was instrumental in the early survival of our nation, born from and directly bolstering the independent American spirit, our Westward expansion and growth into Superpower (both military and economic) status. It brings about a picture of the rugged individual carving out a piece of happiness and prosperity, somewhere in the amber waves of grain of the vast Midwest. Farming the land under a brilliant blue sky while white fluffy clouds slowly drift by. Or, maybe this person is a rancher, home on the range, looking out from the hand hewn covered wood porch over their vast acres of grassy lands as cows slowly munch away the afternoon sun.
But, the truth of reality is always uglier than the romanticized vision of idealism. This idea, taken and promoted to the extreme by the Republican Party, pushes the myth that regular Americans are Davids fighting against the corrupt, socialist and tyrannical leaning Goliaths of Big Government. Now, in no way do I discount or put down this idea of individual responsibility (nor do I have any disdain for capitalism as an idea and practice for the many small business owners/founders who are, in fact, attempting to make a better life for themselves, families and their employees). In fact, I believe that unshackled from corporate and religion-in-government bondage more Americans would embrace this ideal as they pursued their individual goals. And, in the end, make not just America better, but lift the entire world with their efforts (just like that old saying, a rising tide lifts all boats).
However, the reality of today’s modern world (and, I’d argue the reality from the very start of our Nation) is vastly different, as so many of us know. It’s not David, singular. We’re Davids, plural. When you have the Government not only siding with the Goliaths, but convincing half the Davids that they are, in fact, a Goliath, how is real Personal Responsibility and Individual Freedom supposed to win? This is a simple play, divide and conquer. We elect people at the local, State and Federal level to represent us, the individual Citizen, to go forth and fight for our best interests. But, in a twist of cruel irony, Corporations, even before the ridiculous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, have enjoyed a closer relationship with our elected officials than any one of us. They are treated as the First Class Citizen whose interests are the Best Interests of the Nation, even when we all know, politicians and CEOs included, that the only interest of Corporations is Profit. And, as we’ve seen time and time again, Profit in the Short Term at all Costs, including the financial stability and well-being of both those they profit from (us, the People) and the Nation as a whole, leads to financial disaster for everyone, including those very same Corporations, though, they do tend to be rescued more often than not, either by a bigger rival, or the Feds. (Let’s also not forgot that, as the World’s Biggest Economy, as America goes so goes the rest of the world.) The best interests of the Nation, we are repeatedly told, are the best interests of Corporate America (and, we, as the workers are, somehow, in someway, Corporate America as well). Even when it is the Corporations which stack the deck to reap all the financial rewards of our immense economy, but nearly none of the hardship.
And, yet, here we are. A world in which the 99% work and toil endlessly for what we’re all coming to realize is a smaller, crueler, uglier, moldier piece of the pie. Politicians cower in the corner because the economy is now on hold, but have so far failed to take the really big, bold steps to ensure economic stability by providing ongoing financial support directly to the People. While the House just passed an Act that gets us closer, the Senate (specifically, Senate Republicans led by Mitch McConnell’s iron fist) have outright rejected the measure, calling it DOA.
Now, to be fair, it is a costly beast and may, in reality, not make sense. But, the lesson here is simply this, the Republicans are wholly focused on bailing out Corporate America in the belief that if companies have money in their coffers they will happily and selflessly pass that on to their employees, now and when the the economy reopens. We’ve seen this movie with the tax cuts. Who here saw that windfall? Looking to the future, when do we get back to work? When do we declare the economy reopened? And, even then, how long before we’re all out there spending money and spending hours in long, slow, dull commutes? When do we go back to the employment levels of before so we can go back to earning a paycheck that sends more money to the Federal Government than Amazon? When do we go back to people being able to afford their rent, groceries, property taxes, health insurance (with the ever growing and ridiculous deductibles)? If the bailout money is going to Corporate America to pay workers, but workers don’t get paid unless they’re working, how does this help? And, even when companies are paying workers not to work, you all do know that there’s additional overhead and costs, right? So, the bailout money, even if it’s going to workers sitting at home (working or not), is reduced through payroll expenses. The Government, instead of trying to impress its Corporate Mistress, could have actually saved taxpayers some money by sending this money directly to the people above and beyond the $1200 one-time payout.
It is not our Civil Liberties that are under threat from stay-at-home orders. That’s just good public safety policy (and, I’d argue, Constitutionally required of D.C.). No, our Civil Liberties are and have been for quite some time under direct threat and attack by Corporate Greed. By tying our hands with the Almighty Dollar, our choices are limited, our lives are at risk, our very futures and those of our children are under constant threat.
As long as we allow ourselves to be governed by those who see power and wealth as the be all and end all our Civil Liberties will be constantly under threat, pressure and diminishment. Our ability to truly be Personally Responsible and guide ourselves forward in our own lives will be cut off at the knees, we will continue to be financial serfs, forever impeding our ability to live free from debt, from oppression, from corporate and political tyranny. Money is nothing but a means to an end, and that end should be the ability of every Citizen, every Human Being, to pursue Life, Liberty and Happiness. Without shackles, without worry of financial ruin because of illness, or job loss, or even the desire to change careers. Capitalism in its purest form is no better than Socialism or Communism in their purest forms. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness should never be curtailed or blocked for the religious pursuit of Capitalism and the simple pursuit of Profit.