Demand Personal Responsibility Over Entitlement


While serving as President, Harry Truman became known for the sign on his desk that read, “The Buck Stops Here.” Truman’s sign was the ultimate expression of personal responsibility. It told the world that he took responsibility for the actions of the United States government regardless of whether these actions had the desired effect or failed miserably. But Harry Truman is no longer president and America is no longer the country it was when he served. Instead, America has devolved into a nation of finger pointers and blame givers, a country in which people no longer expect to be held accountable for their actions. Worse yet, we have become a nation of entitled Americans, people who, rather than taking personal responsibility for their lives, expect the government to take care of them.

In his book Liberty and Tyranny, Mark Levin says this about government entitlements: “If the Statist were to devise a scheme whereby a grandparent would be stealing future earnings from his own grandchild, would the grandparent consent to such immoral behavior? Yet entitlement programs tend to be intergenerational swindles that threaten the well-being of future generations with massive financial obligations incurred from benefits received by today’s generation.”

Levin has put his finger on the real problem with government bailouts, handouts, and entitlements. It is not just that they are crippling the American economy—which they are—but that they are crippling individual Americans by robbing them of any sense of self-reliance and personal responsibility—two key ingredients in the traditional American work ethic. People who come to depend on government entitlements are saying that it is acceptable to expect someone else to pay for their needs rather than taking personal responsibility for them. This is nothing more than legalized theft, and the government is the thief.

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  • Diana Morrison

    This is a crucial issue. We are turning into a nation of dependents. Fed up with being told that Christian charity requires supporting government welfare, I wrote this blog post, “God and Gimme.”

  • I have Bipolar Disorder. I cannot work full time. I have tried more than once since my diagnosis and have found it impossible. How do you suggest that I support myself, since accepting financial help from the government is unacceptable?

    • After you have earned what you can, you should ask for help from your family and charitable institutions. I had to work 40 hours a week to get the money to give to the government so they could give it to you. Also, those who have less, must learn to live more within their means, however depressing that might sound. But I can say that having been there. I’ve lived without television, without a car, without a phone. I’ve worked as a cook making minumum wage, a dishwasher, etc. That is not where I am now, because I chose to get off the government dole. Also, more than once is not enough if you still need money. And in many cases, bipolar gets milder with age, so you should always keep trying. Good luck.

      • I run a sole proprietorship fixing computers. I am married and my wife works full time. Before I was married, my family helped me with clothing on birthdays and Christmas. Food and shelter were up to me. I received a very small amount of help from charitable institutions for food, but you can only accept help from a food shelter twice. Absolutely no help came for housing. Medication? Um…

        I will be honest with you. I receive Social Security Disability. There was a long application process and I received help in appealing from a Catholic Charities social worker after being denied the first time that I applied.

        I could give you a long list of things that I’ve been able to do with various government-allocated funds, but I won’t. Family and charity got me basically nowhere. If I relied on them alone, I would not be here.

        • Concerned Citizen

          Ethan, while I am glad that you are doing well and seem to have a positive attitude and are continuing to try to be self sustaining, that is not the case with everyone who receives government assistance. Many people who receive government assistance don’t even need it. It’s just easier than working. Or they are lying and they do work and receive assistance to raise their standard of living because they “deserve” it. This is what upsets all the very hard working tax payers who don’t have a choice. This is the big problem that no one seems to be able to focus on or understand, at least not in the media… When someone gives from their own initiative, from their heart, to those who are in need it is a beautiful thing! There are relationships built, positive things shared on both sides. The giver can truly “help” someone, guide them, encourage them, and help them become self sufficient. Both sides win. It is much less likely that the individual giver will continue to enable someone to be needy. And I promise a self sufficient person is much happier even if they don’t have as much than the person who always needs help. But when the government makes that their job two bad things happen. The giver no longer has the personal gratification of helping someone, they just have a bitterness for being forced to give to the government so they can “help” people. Also the receiver doesn’t have any accountability to a person that they are receiving from so the incentive to “stop taking” is not there. If we are honest with ourselves we would agree…taking money from some big entity (i.e. big business, government, etc.) is easier that if you look someone in the face and know that you receiving that money from them means that they personally have less… And when the government forces people to “give” you will also see that personal giving goes down…because the bitterness starts to overtake the heart and caring that was there when they were giving directly themselves… So we are continually making this problem worse and worse the more we continue… That’s what frustrates the people giving.

          I am very sorry Ethan that you are struggling! I will pray that you and your wife are able to find a way to not only sustain yourselves but are able to give back someday because it truly is a blessing!

          • Nea

            So maybe we should change our hearts and happily pay our taxes AND give to charities…

    • Hi Ethan,

      You may disagree, but almost all conditions today are
      better understood and therefore being treated more successfully than at
      any time in the past. Medications, diet, and exercise can make a big
      difference in many cases and yours may be one.

      Since you asked, I
      would say your first goal would be to make sure your attitude is one of
      an underdog who is not willing to fail. In other words, don’t ever be a
      victim, be one who overcomes.

      At times can be tough, but find or build a
      support network who cares about you and work towards establishing relationships that will
      give you strength. Learn to recognize the onset of symptoms and take
      proactive measures to combat them. Be wary of people who try to make you give up or give in to your condition. You can beat this!

      Then, I notice you write very
      well. You have probably learned a great deal about your disorder. You may consider starting an online business whereby you become the expert at
      helping people over come this and similar disorders. Incredible amounts
      of money are being made online by very average people these days. You
      can work when you feel great and take care of your self when you don’t
      thereby avoiding the need to have a “regular job” altogether.

      You may find that in helping others, you enjoy it so much, you will have to monitor your activities so you don’t over work!

      Keep smiling

      • I am on medication. I eat as well as I can and have undertaken exercise programs in the past, but the depression aspect of Bipolar makes that challenging.

        As far as “beating” Bipolar Disorder, at this point, there is no cure. My medications help me maintain. I am in counseling weekly and have a very supportive wife.

        I do work when I can. I run a small business fixing computers and occasionally, designing and maintaining web pages. Before I started having symptoms, I worked full time for five years after earning a Bachelor’s Degree in computer-based mapping. I know what I’m diong and I enjoy it, but it’s not enough work to pay the bills by itself.

        The part that’s hard for me to admit is that I would not be where I’m at without government assistance, either in direct financial assistance through Social Security Disability or paying for other things like most of my treatment costs through Medicare. I would have never had money for rent and insufficient help for food and clothing without that help. I’ve received some help from family and charity over the years, but not enough to sustain me (I was diagnosed in 2001).

        I don’t like that this is the case. I don’t like not making my own way in life. Before I was married, I tried full time work twice and figuratively fell on my face. I couldn’t handle the workplace stress and scheduling restrictions.

        So, I’m doing what I can.

        • Ethan,

          Sounds like you are doing very well in coping with your challenges and it is wonderful that you have a supportive family. What a blessing.

          It is also a good thing that taking government entitlements makes you uncomfortable. Most recipients have no such concerns. Do you have a plan in place to turn off the spigot? If you would loose your SSI at some certain future date, say 6 in months, what would you do? What changes would you be forced to make?

          There are only two options. Make do with less or earn more through other sources. Perhaps you would do a combination if possible. We all face situations that are beyond our control. How we cope with them is varied and complex and we never know what we can do until we are pushed to the limit. Social welfare programs keep us from facing reality and therefore become habitual.

          Many abuse the “safety net” aspect of our social welfare system and turn it into a hammock. Just realize, your hardship is not unique (we all have them) and keep searching for ways to make it on your own.

    • Fred_K

      I believe there is medication for bipolar disorder. If you took your medicine you might be able to work. It is possible that you could do something on your own to generate income. If it is possible for you to make craft items, you might be able to receive income from them. People survived in the past with many disorders.

      Today, individuals with those disorders give up on helping themselves, because the government gives them the basics, and in doing so, destroy the initative of the individuals. In the past, the churches, and individual generosity supported those unable to take care of themselves. Currently, the government takes the money from the people who would have donated to those organizations, and gives it to many who are fully capable of earning their own way, depriving those who truly can not care for themselves.

      You can thank the government for the perception of many, that getting help is not acceptable. What is not acceptable is the government taking from one person to give to another. It is not the government’s responsibility to take care of people, it is the people’s personal responsibility to help others. In making it the personal responsibility of the individual, it removes the layer of government which depletes the amount available because of the bureaucacy of the government. The fraud would be greatly diminshed because the decisions on who gets help would be by individuals who know the person, and their situation directly. It would also not have a phlanx of lawyers to find loopholes for the deadbeats, who are completely able to work, trying to scam the government.

      • Fred, I’ve answered two other posts here, so I won’t repeat myself, but I will assure you that I take medication daily. Thank you.

    • Elleinad

      I don’t understand what it is about your disorder that makes it impossible for you to work. My husband has Bipolar Disorder and was diagnosed and treated for it in the military back in the 70s. Our youngest daughter also has this condition. They both work successfully albeit they have had to take measures over the years to stay regulated properly on medications. My husband is 55 and our daughter is 22.

    • Nea

      Ethan, kudos to you for publicly sharing this. Few people actually understand any psychological disorder and offer little support because they think you can just push through it, which is a ridiculous notion. I’ve read what youve posted and I think that I will gladly pay my taxes so that you and others like you can focus on your day ins and day outs, regardless of whether or not there are others who abuse the system. Don’t feel guilty. Bipolar disorder is such a nasty disorder and it plays with you even worse because there are plenty of times where it doesnt present itself. You’re not a burden to care for regardless of what you may hear.

    • There is medication for Bipolar Disorder. You don’t have to stay that way.

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