Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Individual Responsibility

The NYTimes runs a couple of pieces today that highlight a continuing cultural shift away from individual responsibility.

One reports on "pay-day lenders," which are a common sight outside of any military installation.

I've never borrowed from one of these establishments, but I have seen the effects of financial irresponsibility on the lives of Soldiers. An example that comes to mind is a Soldier in my wife's platoon, who was paying upwards of $300 a month to rent rims for his car, along with other ridiculous expenditures. When my wife found out about this Soldier's financial problems, she went through his monthly costs with him and pointed out what had to go.

The article points out that these businesses do indeed seem to congregate outside the gates and prey on young, fiscally naïve Soldiers, and here (in short) is the Times' assessment of the problem:

The military, for its part, has done little to deny these lenders access to the troops, relying instead on consumer education.

Peer pressure is very high in the military community, especially among Soldiers in the barracks. Kids just out of high school who are on their own with a paycheck for the first time are going to make bad decisions, but what they need is leaders that care about getting them on the right track, not Army regulations (or federal laws) against certain businesses.

Moving on to the op-ed page, Paul Krugman writes on why the federal government should maintain control of Social Security. I'll cut right to his last paragraph:

For Social Security is a government program that works, a demonstration that a modest amount of taxing and spending can make people's lives better and more secure. And that's why the right wants to destroy it.

I take from this statement that he believes that "the right" wants to destroy anything that makes people's lives better and more secure . . . am I off base here? I consider myself a member of "the right," but looking across the political spectrum I don't think that members of "the left" are out to make people's lives worse; the methods they seek to employ will have that effect, but I do not believe that is their intention.

Anyway, that's a minor point . . . my main concern is that I do not want or need the government to take care of me when I retire. Doubtlessly, some people will be unable to meet their own needs as they reach retirement age. Either they do not retire, their family takes care of them, or they go on welfare. I'll even pay a small amount into a government fund to take care of them, but don't force me to pay into a fund that will give me no control over my own money, with much worse returns than I would get on my own.

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