Chores and Taxes – Thoughts on Individual Responsibility vs. Collective Responsibility

President Obama’s State of the Union address this week has stirred up a lot of debate by the political pundits about the questions of individual responsibility verses collective responsibility.  It’s a philosophical argument that has been tossed around for centuries and inevitably gets regurgitated by every generation.

Is it really the responsibility of the collective to see to it that those that don’t meet their individual responsibilities are still cared for?  Is it really the responsibility of the nation as a whole that a lot of people took out mortgages they couldn’t afford?  Is our tax money used appropriately when it’s used to bail out a company that made bad decisions?  Is it really my problem that Joe Blow down the street is unemployed or “under”-employed?

Is it really rich people’s fault that there are poor people?  What is everyone’s “fair share” anyway?  What is the minimum and maximum each person should pay to make it “fair”?  The rhetoric on both sides of this argument gets ridiculous.

All this has me thinking about my own household.

People in this house do not take care of their own crap.  Individual responsibility is lacking in my house and it leads to a collective pain in the rear.  When things get too chaotic, we do “15 minute clean-ups” where we set a timer and each person cleans a designated area as much as they can in 15 minutes.

It works but, every time, I hear things like, “Why should I have to pick up his toys?”, and, “She needs to pick up her own shoes”.  In fact, many times, I have heard kid “A” complaining about picking up kid “B’s” stuff while I’m in another room picking up kid “A’s” stuff.

Is this fair for one kid to have to pick up another kid’s toys?  Obviously the 18 month old can’t take care of his stuff by himself.  He needs help and someone has to help him.  But, he eventually can learn to do it for himself.

So is it unfair?  If we all took care of our own crap, no one would have to take care of it for us.  If kid “A” picked up his stuff, kid “B” would never have to pick it up for them.

So, maybe we need to start our 15-minute clean-ups with a few minutes of just picking up our own stuff.

Of course, there are always going to be people who are in our collective responsibility.  But, a lot of people today think they should be taken care of by the collective when, really, they just need to get off the couch and get a damn job.

I do understand that people get laid off due to no fault of their own.  But, should we really keep extending unemployment benefits indefinitely?  If I always pick up the kids toys, they will never even try to pick them up for themselves.

You can argue all you want about unemployment and “under” employment.  But anyone that really wants a job in this country can have one if they want it bad enough.  If you can’t find one, you’re not looking hard enough or you think your “too good” to do some things.  If my 18-year-old can find a job, so can you.  If you have a $2000 mortgage payment to make and have to take a job at McDonald’s, it’s not really anyone else’s problem or responsibility that you chose to buy a house you now can’t afford.  If you are going to have a $2000 mortgage, you probably should have had a heftier emergency fund.

So, pick up your own dang shoes so I don’t have to pick them up for you.  Because, if we all do our best to take care of our individual responsibilities, there’s a lot less work that has to be done to take care of everyone’s collective rear-ends.

1 Comment

  1. jessica bond

    Love it!

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