Personal Responsibility?

How dare it be suggested

By Michael A. Matteo

I have often wondered what the quality of life in America might be like if people were taught, from birth, to internalize the idea that personal responsibility and consequences from actions taken were a necessary fact of leading a productive life.

In such an ideological Utopia there would be no need for bailouts, stimulus packages or government intervention to save the day for reeling consumers. If people were taught to be more responsible think about how much less it would cost taxpayers for a variety of things that include:

1) The need for fewer police and prisons because people would understand the life altering ramifications of illegal actions;
2) Responsible homeowners would not be asked to foot the bill for their irresponsible neighbors who are in foreclosure because they didn’t comprehend that living above their means was a bad choice; and,
3) Young men and women might think twice before engaging in sexual activity that could produce children that will end up being supported by the government.

The creation of ever increasing governmental safety nets is the antithesis of the principles of self-reliance and self-determination that has made America a world power. Government has become, to many people, like a parent who continually bails out their irresponsible child when that child gets into trouble.

A government that fosters that kind of dependence is crippling its citizens for the selfish, and perhaps calculated goal, of increasing its own power. This is how dictatorships evolve. If this sounds like an alarmist statement, remember the Weimar Republic of pre-WWII Germany was a democracy that was struggling economically and the people were convinced that government could alleviate their pain and they elected Adolf Hitler.

During the debate about the current economic stimulus package how often did you hear politicians inject fear tactics by saying, “Failure to act could have devastating consequences for the economy”? This resulted in the passage of an expensive piece of pork filled spending that may or may not help the economic situation but it will definitely do two things: it will add to an expanding national debt and significantly increases the role of government in the lives of every American citizen.

Government has the unique ability to do something that no private company can do: It can print more money and spend money it doesn’t have, indefinitely. The government just overspends year after fiscal year and lets future generations worry about paying that bill.

Failure is a fact of life and it can also be a wonderful teacher if we are open to learning from its sometimes painful lessons. No government program or bureaucratic band-aid will educate people to learn that there is a better and more responsible way to conduct their personal lives. Instead of looking in the direction of the government for “help” and “change,” people could better serve themselves by looking in the mirror and taking responsibility for their own lives and actions.

Mike Matteo is a resident of Tampa, Florida where he was a public and private high school teacher who taught classes in economics, history, psychology and philosophy. Mike has written twenty full-length feature films, has taught screenwriting at the University of South Florida. He has also written or co-authored three books including The Politically Incorrect Joke book: Written by 4 white males, Push Pull Press. E-mail him at:

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