Responsibility and Externalization of Costs
Once again we are seeing Republican politicians claiming that they speak for individual responsibility. This claim was not addressed adequately the last time that it was made, and it's time that it be addressed now.
The fact is, most Republicans do not practice individual responsibility; what they practice is externalization of costs. They drive their Hummers and SUVs, people die elsewhere in the world as a result of it. They start wars for corporate interest, people die. They pollute the air, people die. They beat their wives, medical costs rise. They tear down other people, the other people become down and out. And further along the same line.
Another argument that has not been frequently made is that many activities that benefit the economy - and yes, the country - are not immediately quantifiable. A good teacher can be the difference between someone thriving and someone becoming a criminal; but that does not get reflected in the teacher's salary payment. A good invention, or pioneering scientific research, can add billions of dollars to the economy; but that likewise does not get computed, nor is the credit for this economic benefit given to the inventor or the scientist. A government infrastructural project such as the Interstate and the Internet can achieve economic benefit to the tune of trillions of dollars; but there is no computation of this.
One major figure to whom the economy owes greatly is the innovator. And anyone who's familiar with the subject of innovation knows that many ideas take time to mature. This is as much the case with work done in physics and engineering as it is the case with work done in psychology or education or economics. The innovator creates prosperity for many other people; but he is himself frequently not adequately compensated for his work.
That the economy also owes a lot to the worker, everybody knows. And yet there are many working people who lose their employment through no fault of their own, such as when the company that employs them relocates overseas. Are these people irresponsible? Absolutely not. They just can't compete against someone who can do the same job for $600 a year.
So when Romney starts claiming that 47% of American people aren't practicing responsibility, we know that we are dealing with a liar. Not only does America have a vast retiree population as a result of the baby boom generation retiring, but it also has had a sluggish economy that made it impossible for many people who are perfectly willing to work to get paid employment. There was much less of this happening under Clinton, when the American economy worked. And until the economy again starts to work and to generate jobs, the people who are out of work cannot be claimed to be responsible for being at the receiving end of an economic downturn.
Whenever Republicans make goading, attacking statements of the sort, one needs to recognize that what they are practicing is externalization of responsibility. It was their own Bush government that ladened America with unneeded debt and caused this economic crisis. Not the person who is retired, not the person who is in college, not the person whose job went abroad, is responsible for this problem; they are. It is time that those people who claim to speak for responsibility be themselves held responsible. The Republican policies have created this problem, and the responsibility for this problem lies squarely with the Republicans.