As a creative, openly queer person ‘of a certain age‘ (57 as of a few months ago) I am all too well aware of how excessive rules and policies can be used, have been used, are being used, to control, demean and belittle people. At the same time I have seen what total disregard for truth, personal responsibility and the preservation of the basic social fabric necessary for ‘the common good‘ has done.
The term personal responsibility has too often been used to mean find a job or starve, you lazy welfare queen. It presumes that the only reason most people accept government assistance is laziness. Or else it is used to mean “self-interest above all“. It does not mean being responsible only for your personal wealth and health. It does mean accepting full responsibility for how you conduct yourself, and how you take your place in society.
“Everyone else does it“
If you decide that cheating the government, businesses or other humans so that you can make a buck is acceptable behaviour, than accept responsibility for your personal decision. Be prepared to be punished if found out; whether through a formal court of law or the, often more harsh, court of public opinion. Sadly there are many people who profess membership and belief in one or other of the world’s ‘major religions’ yet spend most of their time ignoring the teachings (or following only a select few) thereof.
To quote the opening paragraph of a post from five years ago;
This nation was founded in a fight against an establishment based on birthright, religious orthodoxy and “knowing one’s place“. The Founding Fathers wanted to throw off the yoke of tyranny – by blending religious freedom and freedom of conscience with a commitment to care for the general welfare. And so the time has come for we, the people to fight the forces that wish to conserve and protect the status quo; the obscenely wealthy and heartless (and those who aspire to the same) who lie, cheat and steal what/who they can not buy.
“I built this company all by myself“
Perhaps the greatest confusion over ‘democratic socialism‘ is that it calls for collective action based on personal responsibility. Neo-cons like to claim that wealthy and successful (as they define it) people ‘do it all themselves’ while ignoring the socialist basis of society; individuals paying taxes and fees that collectively fund schools and public works (roads, sewers, etc) that we all use. Accepting personal responsibility means contributing towards a better collective future, not just the specific things you want for yourself.