Thursday, October 25, 2007

In-DUH-vidual Responsibility

Buy Your Own Damn Band-Aids

      When I was growing up, my mamma made sure I learned the meaning of individual responsibility, i.e. each person is resoponsible for, aomong other things, taking care of themselves. Most of the time she taught me using words, but when that didn't work she never hesitated to teach it to my behind using whatever suitable impliment was handy at that particular moment. I only mention this as background to explain why I felt so . . . disturbed upon hearing a certain bit of news early this morning. According to a recently released Bloomberg/LA Times opinion poll (.pdf file), nearly three-quarters of Americans believe that it is someone else's responsibility to pay for their personal healthcare. The poll numbers break down as follows:
  • 29% say it's the government's responsibility to cover its citizens

  • 23% say it's an employer's responsibility to cover their employees

  • 24% say it's the individual's responsibility to cover themselves

  • 19% say the responsibility is shared (whatever the hell that means)

To be frank (no, my name's not Frank), this disgusts me. I'm entirely serious; I find this attitude disgusting. It disgusts me that more than half of all Americans are apparently of the opinion that they bear no responsibility whatsoever to take care of themselves. It disgusts me all those people, who likely claim to be adults, can believe that they should be cared for like so many children. And it disgusts me that they apparently feel no shame in making themselves, and everyone else, a burden upon society. Unless you are a direct blood-relative, I am not responsible for your physical well-being; my responsibility ends where my immediate family does. It is not your employer's responsibility, either, and I defy you to make a case otherwise. Nor is it the government's responsibility; the preamble to the Constitution states that "We The People" formed a central government for the purpose of promoting the general welfare, not to provide for it. If you believe otherwise, you need to grow up and act like an adult.

Meanwile, Back at the Factory . . .

      That being said, the thing that really prompted me to write this was a following and related news item:
DETROIT (Reuters) - Three Chrysler LLC plants in the Detroit area on Wednesday voted to approve a proposed four-year contract for workers represented by the United Auto Workers union, boosting the chance that the contested labor pact will be ratified this week.
That's right, while most of America can only be bothered to bitch about healthcare, the UAW is actually doing something about it, and they're doing something smart. Personally, I'm not much for any sort of socialist institution, but if unions are going to exist in America, then this is the sort of thing they ought to be doing, and not simply demanding that employers give employees ever-expanding benefits packages. For those of you just tuning in, the proposed contract stipulates that in exchange for increased job security, the UAW will take over responsibility for the billions of dollars in retiree health-care obligations with which GM, Ford, and Chrysler have long been saddled. GM workers have already approved a similar contract, and the UAW's next obvious target is Ford. As I stated above, this is the sort of thing unions should be doing: providing for their membership's well-being. Unlike the US Constitution, Article Two, Section One of the UAW costitution states explicitly that it is the union's objective to ". . . create a uniform system of . . . health-care and pensions" for the workers under the union's jurisdiction, and what better way than having the union provide such benifits directly? At first take this may not sound like individual responsibility per se, but since the membership votes upon such things then this is indeed individuals taking responsibility, albeit in a corporate sense. And I'm all for that.