Monday, April 8, 2013

Somebody to Blame

Last week I mentioned America’s apparent preoccupation with playing the victim and finding someone else to blame for every mishap.  Not only does this behavior reduce the inclination to be self-sufficient, but it also provides handy excuses for people who do not want to take responsibility for their problems.  If we refuse to deal with our own problems, they either persist or the government steps in, taking away some of our freedom, in an attempt to “help” us overcome them.  Recently New York City’s mayor is becoming famous for doing just that.

Here is another example of failings in the dimension of responsibility.  This article explains how a city in northern Indiana is taking steps to avoid lawsuits that may result from the various festivals held there.  The motivation to do so came after “two people filed tort claims against the city last year for injuries they suffered during the Circus City Festival.”  In one case a person tripped over a water line installed for a festival vendor.  In the other a person tripped while stepping off a sidewalk.  The city wants festival organizers to “put a clause in their insurance policy to waive the city from liability.”

Although no lawsuits have been filed, the claimants have two years to do so and the city wants to take no chances.  This seems like a small deal, but the city is using time to deal with this issue, time that could be spent on other business.  In addition, this blaming of someone else and filing claims or lawsuits, detracts from everyone else's ability to enjoy more leisure activities and typically raises the price of everything we do.  When people take the stance that their tripping over a curb or a water line was not their fault but rather the fault of whoever put it there, it affects us all.  Risk increases for every business we deal with, whether it’s a large department store, a corner pharmacy or your local youth soccer league.  They must protect themselves from these people who constantly look for someone else to blame.  It also increases our premiums for homeowners and auto insurance. 

The ramifications of lack of responsible behavior are far-reaching.  It hurts the individuals by making them victims, leading them to feel less powerful and less capable.  It keeps them from addressing their own problems by putting the blame on others.  It hurts society by wasting valuable time and driving up prices to pay for non value-added services, especially otherwise unnecessary legal fees and insurance.  It threatens our freedom by encouraging those who want to protect us from ourselves to institute rules and restrictions.  More responsible behavior is vital to turning America around.

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