Friday, February 4, 2011

On Character, Goverment Spending and Personal Responsibility

Lawrence W. Reed, economist, historian, and president of the Foundation for Economic Education, wrote a thought-provoking article which was just posted in the Christian Science Monitor:

The deficit Americans should think about most: personal character
Our huge public debt ultimately reflects our lack of individual restraint. But we can do better.

Highly recommended reading. By connecting the personal character of the citizens with the nation's troubling debt, he hits a home run.

The article reflects my granddad's attitude toward government spending (he'd lived throug
h the Great Depression). I can recall him saying, thirty years ago, when he could have let the government pay for some item, "The government can't afford to do that." Then, he'd pay for it himself.

Grand mom and granddad weren't wealthy. They lived in a small house in Hawkinsville, Georgia. At times, he struggled with work and alcoholism. He certainly could have justified getting some government assistance. But to him, expecting the government to pull him out of his personal problems was something he couldn't lower himself to do. For him, it was a moral issue. It was an issue of doing his part to keep America fiscally strong.

Now I'm not saying that all government assistance is wrong. I'm just saying that I seldom see people today with granddad's attitude. Who do you hear saying, "the government can't afford to pay for that," as they refuse a government handout? Even if we object to huge government spending, most of us are glad to take the handouts.

America needs more people like granddad. I hope it doesn't take a "Greater Depression" to instill his attitude in a new generation.