By Tim Dunkin
One of the unfortunate things that has come to characterize modern America is the immaturity of so many of our people. I've written before about the infantilization of large segments of the American population by a variety of means – most of them at the behest of their own government. Every year, more and more Americans are reduced to a state where they "need" the government to do everything for them. This, I believe, is not an accidental state of affairs, but instead forms a part of the long-term plan of the Left to gain total and unchallenged power in this country.
Politically speaking, the Left has a vested interest in reducing as many of the American people as possible to a state where they cannot think, act, or fend for themselves. When brought into such a state of dependency, people are then under the control of the "benefactors" who "provide for their needs." Instead of being self-supporting citizens who contribute to both society and their own benefit by applying their unique abilities and strengths, they become net drains on both the economy and on society at large. This is exactly where the Left wants them. People in such a state are extremely unlikely to vote against the hand that feeds them. They can always count on a large body of readily-available manpower to mobilize where they need them – to the polls, to the protest, to the riot.
Specifically speaking, what are the characteristics of this infantilization? There are several inter-related attributes that we can identify that are rendering increasing numbers of people in our nation incapable of operating under the republican, liberty-oriented system envisioned and set up by our Founders.
To begin with, we see that many of our people find the concept of personal responsibility to be completely foreign. That somebody might have to account for or be responsible to bear the consequences of their own behavior is becoming a lost art. In a similar vein, self-government – that willingness on the part of the individual to restrain their own behavior to within reasonable and acceptable bounds so that they do not infringe upon the rights of others – is increasingly rare. Many Americans show neither the ability nor the willingness to provide for themselves by earning their own way through like. Concurrently, most of these same Americans expect everyone else (i.e. you and I and the rest of the taxpaying, productive citizens of the country) to do everything for them and provide everything to them, whether it be the basic necessities of life or the superfluous luxuries.
The ur-example of this is, of course, the welfare system as it exists in America – a tangled mess of overlapping, redundant programs whose rules are such as to often discourage any sort of upward mobility, and seem designed to keep the participants in a place of permanent recipiency. It's is a crying shame – and I mean that literally – to see what two generations of welfare dependency have done to the bulk of our urban populations, as well as an increasingly large portion of even rural, supposedly individualistic and traditional areas. There are millions in America who not only don't want to find a job, but who would not take one, even if it were handed to them on a silver platter. This results from the peculiar rules attached to many welfare programs. For instance, if a recipient does find a job, but it pays above a certain level (very close to minimum wage), then the welfare is cut off. The problem is that typically, most welfare programs actually pay more than the jobs that cause the welfare "benefits" to be cut off. Therefore, from a strictly materialistic perspective, it is to the advantage of the recipient to simply stay on the dole and not look for a job – an incentivization that feeds into the natural human tendency toward laziness and "something for nothing."
Couple this with the fact that the rules discourage marriage, but encourage large families with extra payments per child, and you see a recipe for the total destruction of the nuclear family, which is the bedrock of stable, non-government-reliant society. For millions of American women, government has replaced a stable husband bringing home the bacon, and we are reaping the whirlwind from the positive encouragement to throw off the constraints of personal responsibility and self-government.
And let's be blunt – this welfare mentality applies as well to those who want the government cut and spending curtailed, except for when it's their particular program from which they benefit. If you're a Tea Partier who rails about the government, but then loudly warns the politicians that they better not touch your Medicare, you're part of the problem.
Another related area where we see the attack on personal responsibility is in the area of public housing. Simply put, when taxpayers are footing the bill for somebody's accommodations rather than that person his or herself, many people will treat the housing like it is nothing. You know how people will often drive rental cars into the ground or will treat hotel rooms carelessly? The situation with public housing is many times worse. I've heard of brand new apartment complexes that have to be completely gutted and renovated a mere five years later because the inhabitants just tore the places to pieces – punched holes in walls, busted out windows, stripped them of their copper piping, and so forth. This is what happens when people whose character has already been infantilized by handouts are given a place to live that they have absolutely no investment in themselves. The wise homeowner keeps their property up, maintains it, fixes things that break, because he or she has a stake in it. The home is theirs, and its value is directly dependent on how they treat it. With public housing, this incentive to responsibility does not exist – and it shows. Instead of being grateful for the provision made by the taxpaying productive members of society, too many times the residents of public housing simply tear their dwelling up, and then arrogantly expect another one to be given to them to replace it, so they can tear it up too. There is no sense of responsibility, no incentive to show the character to be conscientious, or even thankful, only a presumptuous expectancy of what is "owed" them.
So it is with the health care "reform" that we saw forced off onto an unwilling majority in this country. I think most everyone would agree that there are problems with our health care system in this country. However, the solutions to these are not found in the "reform" that was passed in ObamaCare. Indeed, by not pursuing a reduction in the involvement of government in the system and a return to a truly free-market system (anyone who thinks the current system is an example of "free market health care" needs to think again), all this "reform" will do in the long run, besides impoverish the country and destroy the quality of medical care, is to further infantilize the American people. Which is likely the point.
After all, now getting medical treatment will not be your choice. It will be the government's. Instead of you and your doctor being able to sit down like adults and decide which treatment options are best for you, a government panel will now decide for you – or they may decide against you, if they don't think you merit the expenditure of Uncle Sam's limited resources. Nevertheless, for the young, "free" health care will take on the same aspects of free housing – since the government pays for it, might as well use up as much of it as you can, regardless of whether you really need it, or whether the country can afford it. We already see this presently, in the way many lower income folks will use hospital emergency rooms like they were their personal clinics – people with serious injuries and illnesses have to wait hours because some kids with sniffles are in line ahead of them. And of course, the cost gets passed on to you and I via Medicaid, or by simply stiffing the hospital so that the rest of us have to pay for $5 tablets of aspirin to make it up.
Since government-run health care means government-run lifestyles, the infantilization of the American people will continue apace under ObamaCare because, to try to control costs, the government will have to step in and other-govern you in your personal life. We can't have you eating all that fatty food anymore, since we're going to pay for fixing you after your heart attack. Think not? It already happens in Britain, where overweight people can be denied health care until they slim down, since they're more likely to be a drain on resources. So yes, the government will continue – and with greater "moral" authority – to be able to tell you how to live, what to do, what to eat. Just ask the four-year old in Hoke County, North Carolina, who had her packed lunch taken away from her and replaced by some processed garbage provided by the school, because her packed lunch didn't include the government-approved mix of food groups, and therefore was deemed "unhealthy." No longer will adults be able to make choices for themselves and their families – those choices will be made for you, and this can do nothing but inure people to a mindset of being told what to do for their own good – the mindset of a serf. Which is exactly what the Left wants.
Even the recent debate about the government mandating that private, and even religious, insurance providers give access to free contraception highlights this move towards infantilization. Even aside from the obvious religious liberty problems involved, the simple fact of the matter remains that this is just another government-subsidized lifestyle program that pays for what people could, and ought, to be paying for themselves. In a free country, if you wanted to obtain birth control, you would do so by paying for it out of your own pocket, rather than forcing everyone else to give it to you for "free." And here's the surprise for all those on the Left who think it's absolutely great, and is a repudiation of all that uptight religious mumbo-jumbo, to make religious institutions and others pay for their condoms and pill: if the government gives it to you, it can also tell you what to do with it, how much, when and when not. You had these deluded, irrational nightmares about the "Religious Right" coming into your bedroom and telling you what to do? Under the contraception mandate in ObamaCare, it will become a reality – but it will be your own leftist government that does it to you.
And since we're on the social issues for a second, let's note the fact that in the vast, vast majority of cases, abortion is the example par excellence of complete and utter personal irresponsibility. What could be more selfish, childish, and lacking in self-control than to seek to avoid the responsibilities of your own actions by killing someone else? Abortion exists because of a lack of self-control in one's personal life, or because of a lack of willingness to bear the consequences of one's own actions. It is unsurprising that the legalization and continued rabid political protection of abortion as an institution has gone hand in hand with the downward spiral of responsibility and self-government in this country since the 1970s.
Yet another area where the childishness of modern America can be seen is in the attitudes and response of many Americans to firearms and firearm ownership. Responsible gun ownership is an adult activity. By possessing and often carrying a gun, you are dealing with an object that has the capacity to be used, accidentally or purposefully, to kill another human being. This is an awesome responsibility, and one which millions of Americans successfully bear every year without any problems whatsoever. This is because the responsible gun owner knows that if the gun kills somebody, the owner – not the object – is the cause and responsibility-bearer for it. However, many on the Left seem to think that guns are magical objects that either kill entirely on their own, or exert some sort of mind-controlling influence on the carrier to make them violent and potentially likely to start firing off random shots willy-nilly at any moment. This attitude bespeaks a childish mindset on the part of the leftists themselves – they obviously cannot conceive of the idea of responsible behavior, that our actions would not be controlled by some mere object. Leftists approach this issue from the unspoken assumption that the individual necessarily has no control, and no responsibility, for his or her own actions, but that some outside force is responsible – much the same as they seem to think that criminals are not responsible for their own actions, but that "society" or "their past" forced them to murder ten people with an axe. The more people fear inanimate objects and want the government to protect them from these object, and the poor mindless robots who are controlled by them, the closer the Left comes to its dreams of disarming the American people.
Lastly, at least for the examples and discussion I wish to provide here, is the fact of how litigious our society has become. Everybody, it seems, wants to sue everybody else for the least little infraction. The motive for this, ultimately, traces back to the "something for nothing" mentality that likewise characterizes the career welfare recipient. There are many people who hope and pray that they can fall down an icy stairwell and hurt themselves just enough that they can convince a jury to grant them a multi-million dollar award – for nothing other than being clumsy. Who needs to be personally responsible, or take care for their own actions, when big bags full of other peoples' money await the careless and irresponsible? The fact that this ends up hurting us all – it drives up the cost of medical malpractice insurance, making our doctor's visits more expensive; it increases the cost of manufactured goods because of self-imposed preemptive steps for protection against every conceivable source of product liability, and so forth – means nothing to the ones who hope to score big. The Left loves this, because it helps further their efforts at hectoring and regulating private businesses out of existence.
This is all aided and abetted by the Left-leaning news media, which exist not to inform, but to direct. Millions of Americans basically cannot think for themselves anymore, but need the talking heads on ABCNNBCBS to fill them in on the daily DNC talking points, so that they will know what to believe, and who to vilify. Most of the time, when you meet a leftist, it will become obvious within just a few moments that they are simply repeating the bullet points they heard on the nightly news, NPR, or Pacifica Radio the previous evening.
So, what can we do? Well, in one sense, I honestly don't know. I sense that our nation is almost over the tipping point where there are more people who lack the character to be responsible for themselves, who lack the ability or desire to fend for themselves in this big, scary adult world, who even have enough consideration to control themselves enough to not be a burden and a bother to their fellow citizens than there are people who will do these things. I'd like to say "elect the right people into office," but we're at the point where this may not even be possible anymore. Perhaps the answer is to "go Galt," to just drop out and stop playing the game, period. Yet, this seems to me like a response that lacks responsibility as well – it seems too much like giving up, like taking the ball and going home, itself a childish response. Ultimately, it rests upon those of us who are responsible, who do self-govern, who do take the time to do things right and to own up to our errors to lead by example, and to do whatever we can to force our fellow Americans to return back to the path of personal responsibility and adult behavior. Elect who we can get into office, use whatever influence we have in our personal spheres, educate and enlighten our fellow citizens – these are the tasks that we must shoulder if the Republic is to be rescued.