When I was a child, my brother and I were thrilled at the idea that our mom and dad would go out and leave us at home without a babysitter. “We’ll be okay,” we would say, “We can take care of ourselves.” Part of the maturing process is a desire for independence, a chance to grow, stretch, and show what we can accomplish when given a chance.
As a parent, I remember doing everything possible to teach my daughter to be independent, to grow and take measured risks. Today, she is one of the most mature and independent young individuals I know. While she works well with others, she is also willing to step up, take the lead and be responsible for the outcome.
As we approach a very important election, it’s interesting to watch politicians and constituents wrestle with the “What are you going to do for me?” mentality. At a time when federal government spending and the national debt have grown far beyond sustainability, it seems the American people are beginning to realize that spending cuts are inevitable. They are absolutely necessary for survival. The challenge is deciding what to cut.
A dependent class
Over the decades, many have become dependent on the government to take care of them. As a result, there seems to be an inability (or unwillingness) to make even the most basic decisions without first consulting the government (law) to determine how or if something can or can’t be done. We’ve become a paralyzed and dependent class.
I recently saw a news story about an experiment that was conducted to see how people would react to an injured person in a public place. A man pretended to be injured in a railroad station, stretched out lifelessly on the platform to see how other passengers would react. Countless people walked by, looked at him, and then walked away. No one offered help. Why?
When they were asked why they did nothing, several reasons were cited. First, most people thought the railroad officials would call for help. Next, they thought it was a police issue – none of their business. Many were afraid of the liability if their actions were wrong. Finally, a few said they just didn’t have the time. The point is that we’ve become a dependent class, afraid of taking even the most basic responsibility to help ourselves or others. We expect someone else to handle just about everything.
The times, they are a changin’
Today, with a lingering recession and a federal debt that has spiraled out of control, even the dependent class has begun demanding that the federal government go on a diet. They’re saying it’s time for them to back off and stop spending money we don’t have. For the first time since the 1920’s, Americans are demanding that the federal budget be reduced, dramatically. The difficult part though, is that we’ll need to take more personal responsibility. For example, we’ll need to be smart enough to get a flu shot and cover our mouths when we cough without waiting to hear a government funded ad telling us to do so. Duh!
Just as many families, due to a job loss, have had to learn to live without restaurant dining, vacations, expanded cable television service and other luxuries, our bloated federal government is being told by voters that it, too, will have to cut back.
How will we survive?
Like an addict who struggles to break an addiction to alcohol or drugs, it is the same with Americans are indicating that they are ready to break the addiction to government. I’ve been amazed to see people do whatever it takes to pay the bills, reduce their debt, and provide for themselves and their families. They’re showing that they can survive without government dependency.
Having started several businesses over my career, I’ve learned that when left alone, businesses will grow, thrive, expand, and hire. We often hear about all of the money that is sitting on the sidelines, just waiting on a sign that the economy is improving. I believe, and I think most business owners would agree, that investors and employers are waiting to see which direction our elected officials will take the country. Will they raise taxes and expand government or will they cut spending and taxes and trust the American people to jump start the economy of the greatest job producing engine ever seen on the face of the planet? Personally, if I had to choose between government babysitters or the ingenuity and work ethic of the American, people, I’d choose the latter.
Just as we did when we were children, people are saying, “We’re big boys and girls. We don’t need a babysitter. Just get out of our way.”