A Tale of Personal Responsibility

What do the terms personal responsibilities or individual responsibilities mean? Throughout my lifetime I thought that these terms meant being accountable which entails receiving credit on occasion but most often taking the blame for something that happened or failed to happen when I had the authority to make the decisions.

Was or am I incorrect with my understanding?

In broad general terms how often are government welfare programs criticized with the argument that people need to accept responsibility? Why should “I” work to support someone unwilling to work?

Specific programs aside, I’ll argue that in a basic sense everyone needs some type of assistance at some point in their life. The nature and degree will differ, but that assistance made it possible to achieve something. Often we may not even be aware of that help because it may have occurred a long time ago. For example I believe that I am a more accomplished person today because of things I learned and observed from my Dad, Grandfather, teachers, and so many more from back when I had to use a ladder just to be knee high to a grasshopper.

If and when I fail at specific tasks, yesterday, today, or tomorrow, the fault is mine and not that of my Dad, Grandfather, teachers, and all those other people from back when I was a kid. They passed tools and knowledge to me and it is my responsibility to use those appropriately and develop or implement new techniques to meet the demands of my tasks. It’s not the fault of someone today. Admittedly often the most difficult thing for me today is to confess that I need help and then humble myself to accept that assistance to overcome a particular obstacle or to complete some job. Again, however, I am the one accountable for any failure when the task is my responsibility.

To paraphrase Vince Lombardi, personal responsibility isn’t a sometime thing, it’s an all the time thing.

There should not be double standards. Sadly though many people who argue that others are receiving something for nothing; that others fail to accept individual responsibility have no trouble “passing the buck” when things are not ideal to them.

I know next to nothing about Jonathan Gruber. I’ve heard the audio and seen the video clips of his statements concerning the passage of ACA, i.e. Obamacare, only in passing. Personally I believe that the law as written is a convoluted mess. Reality is that the health care industry was a convoluted mess before this law and little has changed in that respect. As I’ve written several times here, ACA in my opinion contains more positives than negatives. ACA is also a complex, high number, of individual aspects and not a single concept. When people talk of repeal or defund, my initial question is that I want to know which specific parts. My experience has been that the loudest critics often cannot identify the pieces that they want retracted, disabled, or destroyed.

I’m not arguing one way or another about Gruber, but what if the law was passed on the basis of deception? Who had the responsibility for making you or I learn “the truth?” Apparently it wasn’t you or I who had the personal responsibility, but it was Mr. Gruber and President Obama to tell us, every Member of Congress, and who knows who else that they desired to deceive us.

The same is true concerning immigration. The same is true concerning individuals on or coming to the United States illegally. Regardless of your or my personal opinion about what should be done, I feel it safe to say that we all agree that these issues about legal and illegal entry into the United States are not new. They may have grown in scope, but nothing started 10 minutes ago, last week, last month, or whatever your own date might be.

The reality is that both Chambers of Congress have failed to address the issues. We can play partisan rhetoric by arguing that the House has or hasn’t done this and the Senate has or hasn’t done that, but both Chambers have the responsibility of doing both this and that to come up with something both Chambers can accept. We the People should hold our elected representatives responsible for handling their duties.

Instead it seems like President Obama must make a decision. This offends some but arguments that the President should not implies that no issues exist in regard to immigration and being in this country illegally. If you or I am in the position to legally address these issues but fail or refuse to even try, what is rationale behind complaints that someone else needs to act? It makes less sense when we argue they lack the legal authority, but we still shirk our own responsibility.

Executive Orders or Executive Actions are not unique to President Obama. I’ve written in depth on the topic. Numbers issued by each President mean little to me because orders are not issued equally. You can review disposition tables here, and the most recent of orders can be viewed here.

Executive Orders are law. The Constitutional arguments for their legitimacy rest in Article II. Depending on the direction of the wind, everyone has supported and opposed Executive Orders at one point or another. Support or opposition results from different factors such as time and place. It’s complex and rarely do I encounter all or nothing arguments concerning every EO issued since George Washington.

The simple fact, however, is that Congress has the power to overturn an Executive Order by passing legislation in conflict with the Action signed by the President. That’s been true since the 1st Congress. This Congress, the 113th, simply decided to not accept responsibility to this point, and they want to recess before 11 December so does anyone have hope that they will now take responsibility? Blame the House or blame the Senate but we have to accept the fact that both Chambers are required to act regardless of the rhetoric or partisanship. Everyone seems capable of making excuses, but has either Chamber accepted responsibility to structure a workable agreement?

Nope!  What we are seeing is everyone shucking responsibility and relying on President Obama to make a decision. The result of this lack of responsibility is that we will most likely see one of two responses.

  • 1) Congress will attach riders to the funding bills required to keep our government operational. These riders will prevent funding for any policy implementations contained within any Executive Order issued by the President concerning immigration and illegal entry into the United States.
  • 2) Congress will rely upon the courts to declare the Executive Order null and void. A historical example is when the courts struck down Harry Truman’s Executive Order seizing the nation’s steel mills in an attempt to settle labor unrest.

Both scenarios lead to the same conclusion: a government shutdown. Actually another government shutdown wouldn’t be that bad if it did not have such a negative economic impact on everyone besides the Members of Congress. They can read Dr. Seuss, eat Green Eggs and Ham, see the integrity of the United States dwindle, and still live their lives according to the long since overturned legal concept of “separate but equal” established by SCOTUS in the 1890s which has been paraphrased into “separate and apart” from those I am charged with representing.

Partisan rhetoric will engulf of us with President Obama shut down the government with his veto. Now on the off chance that the President would not veto the legislation, we would be back in the same proverbial boat of waiting for Congress to accept responsibility.

I’ll agree with you in that the President should not be the individual making all of these policy decisions. Where we might disagree is that I’ll argue that someone with authority needs to accept responsibility and make these decisions. I believe that because I believe that we have real issues which need to be addressed. Congress complains, but both the House and Senate have elected to punt.

In this case the excuse of deception and lies is even more difficult to employ against the President.

Barack Obama has informed everyone that he has a pen and a phone.

Now since Congress could pass legislation to essentially dry all the ink in the pen up and cut that phone line, how is the President being dictatorial?

I view it as Congress needs to accept some personal responsibility and the American people accept some individual responsibility for not holding our elected representatives responsible. If we choose not to accept responsibility, the President will at least try to assist us from not harming ourselves any further.

Personally, I’m not humble enough or feel that I really should be in need or in want of that type of assistance from the President. His critics, however, seem to want to shirk personal responsibility and delegate all power to President Barack Obama and then whine and complain.