The Reason Why Some of Us Talk about Personal Responsibility

by Chris McGinty

I’m starting to come to the realization that there is a strange politicization of something that I think a majority of people actually agree with, personal responsibility. I don’t think that even the most leftist of the leftists really believe that people shouldn’t get out and earn a living and manage their finances reasonably. You might find someone who’s flirting with anarchy a little bit who might claim they could care less about people being responsible for themselves, but deep down where society plants our core values even they know that there is some amount of personal responsibility to be had.

What then is the actual problem? Why does it feel to the right like left leaning folks just don’t want anything to do with being personally responsible? Why does it feel to the left like the right uses personal responsibility like deflection arguing to avoid the real issues at hand? Largely, I believe it’s the same old culprit. The representative voices on the left and the right are too busy arguing as foes that they fail to see where they agree. Do you think that deep down the conservatives of the world are happy that Amazon is acting in such a way that unionization seems the only move? It reflects poorly on the idea that businesses will operate with moral restraint when unregulated. But they have to argue as though they are on the opposite end of every argument, which means that they still have to argue for deregulation and anti-unionization.

What about the general argument about personal responsibility? Last year, when we wanted everybody to stay home so that we wouldn’t spread COVID-19 and kill over half a million people, for some reason people were still arguing against a temporary increase in unemployment payments because people wouldn’t want to work… which by the way we didn’t want them doing, because we wanted everybody to stay home so that we wouldn’t spread COVID-19 and kill over half a million people. It was the same tired personal responsibility argument that giving the poor any sort of a rise would just destroy our entire society because people are inherently lazy and would rather not work. It muddies the real message when idiots talk that way.

When I talk about personal responsibility my reason is a lot more simplistic. The government will never save you from the 1%, and even if they tried to without personal responsibility you wouldn’t be saved. I like to explain these figures to people: if 100 million workers in the US saved $10 next month that they wouldn’t have normally saved it would shift $1 billion in wealth; if 100 million workers in the US saved a $1,000 starter emergency fund that they wouldn’t have normally saved it would shift $100 billion in wealth; if 100 million workers in the US saved $100,000 for a full emergency fund that they wouldn’t have normally saved it would shift $10 trillion in wealth; and you know what? It wouldn’t change anything. The top 1% would still control around 90% of the wealth.

Where personal responsibility comes in is being willing to keep some of the money you bring in. What is happening is that the top 1% is shifting trillions a year through salaries and wages to the working class, but when you live paycheck to paycheck, you’re giving it all back. It’s in exchange for a place to live, food to eat, and some of the basic comforts of living in a developed country, but you’re giving it back.

What if the government “came to our rescue” tomorrow and gave us all $100,000? Would everyone have a fully funded emergency fund from that moment forward? We all know the true answer is no. Some people might be more responsible with it than others and maybe buy a house, or pay off the house they have, but most people would be broke by the end of the year.

When I talk about personal responsibility, my first point is always that the government is not really going to save us. They barely even helped us during an international health crisis.

“Notebook with $1.200 Stimulus Check text” by is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I’m just glad to know that notebook belongs to Bill.

Even if they did try to save us, we’re not really very well trained as a society to take care of ourselves first. They would convince us to use the gift money to buy a new car, a new house, and a new education. You have to stimulate the economy, after all. Then we would no longer have money ready for an emergency. I’m not talking about nonsense like pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. I’m saying don’t let them kick you back down every time that you try to get up.

Try for a while to always have $1,000 in the bank for emergencies if you don’t already have that or more in there. It’ll get swallowed up by an emergency a few times before it sticks, but eventually you’ll feel uncomfortable if you slip down below $1,000 in the bank. It’ll create a whole new reality for you where you don’t give it all back every time. And while some people will have more trouble than others doing that, it’s something that most people can do. If you know you’re one of the people who legitimately can, then get to it.

Chris McGinty is a blogger who worked so much during the alleged quarantine that by the time he got any of the stimulus money he just held onto the checks to pay his car insurance for the year. Sure, that still fits the description of giving it all back, but the point is that I was in a position from not being in the habit of giving it all back that I didn’t have to immediately catch up with my bills with it. I was able to use it to save a little on my car insurance. Liberty, Liberty, Liberty. I don’t go through Liberty. I was just counting my Duran Duran collection.

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