You hear a lot of talk in Republican circles about ‘Personal Responsibility.’ It sounds great, doesn’t it? Americans are a rugged bunch. We like to do things ourselves. We grow, cultivate and butcher our own food. We make the forks and knives needed to enjoy our bountiful feasts. We build and furnish our own homes. The neighborhood doc treats all our illnesses. We bank our own money. We only invest with people we know and trust. Wait a minute. That’s not us? I guess I watched too many episodes of “Little House On the Prairie” as a little kid.
Truth be told, Americans are not the rugged individualists we think we are. Our lives are inextricably tied to pretty much everyone in the industrialized world. Our food comes from as far away as Chile and as far away from nature as a lab rat. By the time it reaches our plates, it’s been touched by dozens of hands and a number of multinational corporations. We hope and pray that our SE Asian manufactured forks and knives don’t contain lead or mercury. Our homes are built by large home builders, who oversold, causing neighbors to foreclose and the value of our own homes to go down. Our mortgages are held by…who the hell knows. For those of us who have insurance, we are lucky if the insurance company will approve of the treatment needed for our doctor to treat us. For those of us that don’t, we’re lucky if we don’t go bankrupt from an illness. Or worse yet, we’re lucky if we don’t die. We bank with faceless corporations who charge us to use our own money while raking in record profits. We invest in 401ks and money market funds, mixing good investments with bad. If we have jobs, it’s likely our employers are struggling because there aren’t enough customers. If we do get laid off through no fault of our own, jobs are a rare commodity. Starbucks won’t hire someone who was making $60k a year. Some companies refuse to hire the unemployed…period.
I want personal responsibility. I want to be an entrepreneur. I want to be a job creator. Despite continuing education and a 70+ hour a week work ethic, my dream could fail, simply because I need health insurance. I take personal responsibility for my health. I eat a healthy diet. I exercise. I don’t take pharmaceuticals (sorry big pharma). I pay my bills. I don’t go into debt (sorry Wall Street).
So, okay, it is time for me to take personal responsibility…starting here:
- I take personal responsibility for the fact that I didn’t work hard enough to keep corporate money out of our elections.
- I take personal responsibility for the fact that I did not work hard enough to maintain a Democratic majority in 2010.
- I take personal responsibility for the fact that I did not stand up to Wall Street sooner.
- I take personal responsibility for the fact that I have ever purchased any non-American made products.
- I take personal responsibility for the fact that I have ever purchased any non-union made products.
- I take personal responsibility for the fact that I have ever shopped or invested with a multinational corporation.
- I take personal responsibility for the fact that I have ever banked with a non-local bank.
- I take personal responsibility for any of my own inaction due to cynicism or apathy.
- I take personal responsibility for not educating myself about politicians and issues.
- I take personal responsibility for not educating myself in the electoral tactics of the corporations I honor with my business.