Personal Responsibility

Let’s have a brief discussion about personal responsibility. Now, before you get mad at me, I know that is a taboo subject in today’s world, but let’s think about it – please humor me.

When I was a kid, as I can remember, there was only one kind of credit card that was in common use and that was a gas company credit card. Since I was too young to have one I can only assume that the debt that was incurred had to be paid. I know that is a silly concept today but, as I said, bear with me. If I recall correctly, Sears and Roebuck had a “revolving credit” account. That meant that if you charged a washer on the account in January, and then paid it down to within a few dollars, then charged a drier on the account and then paid it down to within a few dollars, then charged a refrigerator on the account and then half way down the payment schedule you defaulted on the account they could come pick up all three appliances.

Was this unfair? Maybe or maybe not, but the point is that this is the way the account was structured and you understood the consequences of not paying. That is what I call enforced responsibility; consequences for your decisions and/or actions.

Every day I hear advertisements on the radio or TV saying something like “Do you owe the IRS $10,000 or more? Now you can negotiate that down to pennies on the dollar,” or “Do you have over $10,000 in credit card debt? Now you can be forgiven most if not all of it.” When and how did we get to the point where we expect to incur debts and not have to make good on them? Friends, there is a very simple word for this concept, THEFT. When a person makes a commitment, they follow through with it. If they don’t, they are a liar and a thief. Strong words? Maybe so, but that is the way I feel about it.

But wait, I am being completely insensitive and politically incorrect about this situation. After all, our president the OWH advocates making this attitude public policy. In his State of the Union blather he said:
To make college more affordable, this bill (speaking about an education bill) will finally end the unwarranted taxpayer-subsidies that go to banks for student loans. Instead, let’s take that money and give families a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college and increase Pell Grants. And let’s tell another one million students that when they graduate, they will be required to pay only ten percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after twenty years – and forgiven after ten years if they choose a career in public service. Because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college. And it’s time for colleges and universities to get serious about cutting their own costs – because they too have a responsibility to help solve this problem.

There are two very blatant things wrong here. The first goes along with the theme of this Discourse and that is personal responsibility. As a public policy we are going to tell college students that after 10 or 20 years they will have their debt completely forgiven. Well, I’m one of the folks loaning them that money and I have a vote on that public policy. I VOTE NO! These people assume a debt and I vote that they pay their assumed debt.

The second thing that is wrong with that quote is that the OWH is intentionally encouraging the growth of government in the hiring of college students who will be able to work in one bureaucracy or another for 10 years and be free of the student loans THAT I LOANED THEM.

The OWH has said and done a lot of stupid things in the last year, but this one is right up there with the best. He has absolutely no idea how to solve our economic or social problems. As I have stated in these Discourses in the past, when you are out of money, stop spending. As Newt has said, when you can’t afford to buy a house, don’t buy it. If you can’t afford to go to college, work your way through it.

The only way I can see to get this country back on its collective economic feet is to get rid of the myriad of non-constitutional departments and bureaus and give those functions back to the states and the people where they belong. In that way, billions of dollars that we are hemorrhaging into bureaucracies could go to our debtors and put us back into the black ink territory. A result of these cuts would be massive cuts in social programs. You say that we can’t do that because so many people depend on them? How about making people depend on themselves? That is what the “Greatest Generation” did. They weren’t great just because they won the war against Fascism; they also persevered against the economic crisis brought on by failed government policies.

Friends we are headed there again. These bureaucrats and incompetents in Washington are doing what we used to call “featherbedding.” It is past time we put a stop to it.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and discussions.

The Tenth Amendment


There is currently a movement fostered by the Coalition for a Conservative Majority, Colorado Springs to encourage the Colorado Legislature and governor to tell the federal government that we are going to uphold the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution and expect the same from them. I don’t have to tell you what prompted this movement. At this point I think we should review the Tenth Amendment:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

That seems pretty simple to me. That tells me that the powers granted to the federal government are specifically enumerated in the Constitution and no other powers are to be assumed by that government. It also says that if a power is not specifically granted to the federal government, it is reserved for the individual states or passed directly to the people.

This is a good place to discuss the purpose of the Bill of Rights. The first nine Amendments were drafted specifically to enumerate and ensure those rights that the founders believed the citizens possessed by virtue of being citizens. The Bill of Rights was drafted to set restrictions on government. It could be cogently argued that each individual Amendment of the first ten is more important than the others. However, I would argue that the first nine Amendments equally detail the rights of all citizens of the United States and the Tenth Amendment sets the boundaries for the federal government with respect to those rights.

While I am not a constitutional scholar, I have read it many times and have yet to find where the federal government has the authority to hold such massive control over the states. All of that control has been legislated since 1791. This points out two problems; first is that Congress and successive presidents have taken it upon themselves to exert that control and second that the states and citizens allow them to do it.

I see two ways to view the power of the federal government. The first is that the feds give the states, communities, and individuals money for various purposes under various programs. In exchange for these monies they demand certain “paybacks.” The overwhelming tendency today is to give the federal government what it wants because states, communities, and individuals want the money. The second way to look at it is to question why are we so willing to accede to their wishes, especially considering that it is our money that they are giving us? The US government has a very poor track record when it comes to living up to its self-proclaimed obligations. Congress just changes those obligations at will, not bothering to consult with the people most affected.

One concept to “encourage” the feds to live up to their obligations is to put all monies slated to go to them into a “sequester fund” until such time that they live up to their stated obligations. The problem with this concept is that we would be admitting that they have the authority to enact and carry out the many programs that come out of Washington. I would argue that they do not have that authority as stipulated in the Tenth Amendment.

I would urge all state legislatures to pass binding resolutions to disassociate themselves from the mandates of the federal government except those specifically set down by the Constitution. Why should we in Colorado pay for the housing of someone who cannot or will not work in Detroit? That is a city and/or state issue and not within the mandate of the federal government. It is time for us to take our rights back!

Find out just what the people will submit to and you will have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
Frederick Douglass, August 4, 1857

For more on this subject refer to my Political Discourse of 10 June 2008 entitled Constitutional Authority on this blogsite.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and discussion.