Thursday, April 28, 2011

Post No. 164: Can One Be Responsible and Irresponsible at the Same Time?



© 2011, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

(Pssshh. This post is about Katie Kouric.)

Earlier today, one of our loyal followers (the Independent Cuss) inquired as to our next topic. Although we suspected that our readers had enough of the subject, we weren’t quite through whipping the dead horse of freedom of political expression (or the Koran burning Rev. Jerry Jones). Therefore we provided some other nuance of the subject to piss off some additional people.

(This post is about Katie Kouric.)

In reality, over the past week we missed our regular viewing of Tom and Jerry cartoons, and AMC did not air enough Three Stooges movie shorts to provide us with a global, historical appreciation of the world and its contents. Consequently, we were at a loss for scintillating, adult-oriented subject matter.

However, the Weather Channel came to the rescue and filled the intellectual void. When one considers that they regularly feature, “How Weather Changed History,” it makes one realize that this underdog channel deserves more of our attention.

(This post is about Katie Kouric.)

A few months back, we generated a piece entitled, As is the Case with the Truth, Personal Responsibility is Rarely Plain, and It’s Never Simple. During many of the comment threads flowing from our posts, it occurred to us that Personal Responsibility means different things to different people.

Some feel that Personal Responsibility is personal to the actor, while others feel that some standard or reference point is established through the collective eyes of a group or through the mouths of the most vocal members of a group. For some others, such as religious sorts, the concept is defined by some higher authority or power. For the liquor manufacturers, it’s about drinking just enough short of embarrassing yourself in some form or fashion.

(Yep, this post is about Katie Kouric.)

When the Institute was based in Los Angeles, on our trips back east people would frequently suggest that they could not live anywhere near the San Andreas Fault. They were concerned that the “Big One” might occur, kill them, and destroy all for which they had worked. We always responded that the “Big One” would probably be only once in a lifetime.

But as we watched the Weather Channel’s coverage of the recent string of storms which swept the southern region of the US, we asked ourselves, "How often does a threat need to appear before a region decides that the risk level is too high to live there on a continuing basis?"

We Baby Boomers can readily recall instances during our youth when residents in purported Third World countries were devastated by various natural forces, and the media always asked how they could return and rebuild year after year following natural devastation. It was a testament to human … something.

(Some have even suggested that we are rapidly approaching our goal of becoming a Third World nation, since we previously attained the status of a “Developed Nation,” and appear to be going in the other direction.)

We here in America historically felt that we were smarter than Nature and that our engineers could figure out a way to win the match. After all, we placed a man on the Moon….
That is until Hurricane Katrina delivered a wallop to the Gulf Coast, and made us look like a bunch of mere mortals. Some suggested that the “responsible thing to do” would be to abandon New Orleans and similarly affected areas.

As we watched the Weather Channel’s coverage of this week’s devastation, particularly in Alabama, it occurred to us: At what point do people, society, and government (oops, and the private sector) decide to shift their efforts to other pursuits and abandon their prior ventures?

How much time should anyone spend pursuing any goal before it becomes the “irresponsible” thing to do? If one does not invest “enough” time or effort, is that person a “quitter?” Do the times dictate or suggest how long anyone should devote their time and energy to any venture? Who decides?

There are only 2 things about which we are absolutely certain in life:

1) Many of our readers have a clear cut, black and white line in their minds as to what is “responsible” and what is “irresponsible;” and

2) This post is about Katie Kouric.

Well, maybe not.

On second thought, this post is about Bill Gates of Microsoft fame, who quit Harvard to go out and pursue his PC dream.

73 comments:

  1. The greatest example of personal responsibiltiy was demonstrated by our founding fathers in their support of the Declaration of Independence where with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, they mutually pledged to each other their LIVES, their FORTUNES and their SACRED HONOR.

    It doesn't get any more personal that that.

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  2. Oh, by the way I thought the only two things certain in life were:

    Death and

    Taxes.

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  3. Welcome back Coop; it's been a while.

    Out of curiosity, are the leaders of the various rebel groups in the Middle Eastern countries currently experiencing turmoil or unrest demonstrating "personal responsibility?"

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  4. Coop"

    We heard that lots of people feel that the only two things that are certain in life are death and taxes, but we're not lots, or most people. Plus taxes occur during one's life, while death occurs at the end of one's life, although admittedly the certainty exists throughout.

    Hmm....But then again some would argue that with the right accountant and lawyers on your staff, one can eliminate the certainty of taxes.

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  5. We can't all be friends of Government officials - sort of like GE. I guess if we don't make much money, we won't have to pay much in taxes! Print more money!!

    As to the Middle East - They are seeking the opportunity to decide their own destiny, rather than relying on their King for what ever he decides they should have. This is ultimately why dictators and Statists ultimately fail.

    Wonder why we didn't support the folks in Iran when they tried to upset the apple cart there?

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  6. I have been reading your blog for the past couple of years, and you are right about one thing. A lot of your readers have rigid, black and white views of the world, and they are not willing to reconsider their positions, nor acknowledge the merits of the positions of those who they disagree with.

    In fact, unfortunately, that's what blogs have become. A vehicle for people with rigid views to mouth off, and that's too bad.

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  7. Was there an agreement or disagreement with the positions I proposed or are you just into personal attacks. Perhaps the rigid view is that Annonymous is always right and anyone who disagrees with his position is a "mouth off" or just too stupid. That's what is too bad, no debate just attack.

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  8. This is why I haven't been here in a while and probably won't be back. There is no debate. Just bloviating.

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  9. Coop,

    Please reconsider. I find Anon's commentary style to be the exception rather than the norm here on TVFOMTW; please read the 'Spector's previous post and its 85 comments (85!) and note that there is none of that "personal attack" nonsense taking place therein. In fact, I even made that observation (by way of a “Thank You” note) in one of my own posts near the end.


    'Spector,

    Our home is rife with personal responsibility; whenever something goes wrong, wife advises me that I am personally responsible!

    Seriously, I am quite under-qualified to speak to the topic at hand. This is because I am the polar opposite of the typical A-type personality, therefore I all-too-often find myself saying "I've invested too much time in this (fill in description of quixotic pursuit here). It is far too much trouble; I simply don't have the energy to continue." By that yardstick, I must be the world's most responsible individual.

    But wait: carried to the extreme, the "I surrender" attitude is a consummately irresponsible philosophy. When one no longer sufficiently cares about one’s own self-reliance and dignity to the extent that one descends into homelessness and/or parasitism, is that not the antithesis of personal responsibility?

    Interesting. That dichotomy may somehow actually be at the root of your query's answer . . . but further contemplation of that relationship is simply too much trouble to take at this time.

    Independent Cuss

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  10. Anonymous? Are you the same Anon I was rude to a short while back? I hope so. You say you have been reading the Inspector's excellent blog for two years - very good, but were you the SAME person each time you left a comment?

    People with the good manners to put a name to their comments so that they can be distinguished from others, are surely entitled to be occasionally certain of views they express, and this implies that they do not highly regard the merit of opposing views on these occasions. This is inevitable don't you think?

    Perpetual 'in my opinion's and similar can interrupt the flow of debate, and don't add to the knowledge offered for consideration.

    So yes, blogs are a vehicle for people to say what they think, mouth off, rant, and so on - with the occasional link to intelligent and well-researched content from the web, (along with the rubbish)

    So don't be cross with Anon. CC, whoever he/she/they are - come and share what you think.

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  11. This is my third attempt to post a comment. The first one Blogger glitched and failed to post. The second one, Blogger failed to show the entire text hi-lighted and then zapped it into oblivion.

    Two things:

    1. Steven Jobs is obviously engaged in a plot to destroy Google through Blogger.

    2. The weather channel is wrong. You cannot change history. I've tried. It's impossible. The only time I was successful, we got Jimmy Carter for president. But you think that was just the way it was, don't you?

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  12. Douglas, I never type anything into this box without copying it into the clipboard or even a 'word' file as well. This form of conversation is very inferior to other forms out there in my opinion. Strings become so long visitors are put off for sure.

    The commentors name plus a few words capable of expansion is the way to do it i think.

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  13. Many of our readers have a clear cut, black and white line in their minds as to what is “responsible” and what is “irresponsible;”

    And many don't.

    Taken together what do these two statements add to the sum total of common sense? And yet is either statement TRUER than the other?

    Responsible means, on one level 'I done it' On another level it means 'I knew what i was doing and (in my opinion) should take the consequences'

    But in the context 'he is a responsible person' it carries the meaning that he generally tries to act in a way that leads to 'good' consequences. But this is an opinion of this person, NOT a statement of fact or truth.

    So a responsible person cares about the consequences? And the other one doesn't?

    That sounds fair, but how do we know (as in KNOW) what another person cares about?

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  14. BTW, before we respond to the comments posted thus far, does anyone have any thoughts about whether Katie Kouric stayed in her job long enough, the mindset of people in areas which repeatedly suffer natural disasters, and the pros and cons of quitting college (Bill Gates).

    Independent Cuss addressed the "prudent cessation of effort" versus "quitting" issue.

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  15. Sorry, Inspector, I forgot to mention (the very perky) Katie Couric, didn't I?

    I really don't know much about her. I never watched any of her network news shows. I gave up on network news years ago. And I was never a fan of those morning TV talk fests.

    So, basically, I don't care.

    Corfubob, you are right. Prudence would dictate I make sure I capture everything before attempting to post. But I am, after all, a creature of habit and I love to get angry and I love to blame Apple. It's just my nature.

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  16. How in the world did Coop's Comments ever get the idea that my comment was directed toward him and was a personal attack?

    Inspector, I am a member of one of the groups you mentioned who chose not to reveal their name. I am forced by the nature of my chosen profession, politics, to not use my real name. Expressing one's true views is the direct opposite of being a good politician. I also have to represent a wide range of constituents with views across the political and ideological spectrum.

    The issue of prudent abandonment versus continuing to fight applies to me and many of my political colleagues, who lost campaigns before ultimately being elected.

    As for Katie Kouric, she did not stay in the job long enough. But that is frequently a problem with women at work. They like to come and go as they please, have babies, take time out with their children, work part-time and on and on. I am not guilty of sexual discrimination, I am just honest and direct.

    It's just become politically incorrect to talk about it.

    Examine the tenures of every other male anchor on every other network and you will finds years of dedication and the honing of their skills for their profession. You will not find them quitting after just a couple of years.

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  17. I forgot to mention that one can be viewed as responsible and irresponsible at the same time. It happens quite frequently in Congress. A Republican or a Democrat will view a person, a bill, a government program, or the amount of money spent for a particular purpose in entirely different ways, one claiming responsibility, and the other irresponsibility, while referring to the same person or thing.

    It is part of what makes the discussion of personal responsibility difficult during these times.

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  18. We just visited our FaceBook page, where we also receive comments to our posts. A long-time friend of the Institute provided the following in response to the question, "Can One Be Responsible and Irresponsible at the Same Time?"

    "It is my responsibility to admit that I am both every day.

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  19. My quarrel with the name Anonymous is not that people don't know what human being is behind comments, it is that, as i said before, readers cannot relate different comments to individual sources. Or perhaps nobody else is allowed to sign in as Anonymous, is that the case IC?

    Naturally a politician cannot admit openly to any but the positions s\he is paid to express.

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  20. Anonymous, this is just my opinion but I would prefer an honest politician rather then one who hides his identity in order to not reveal who he really is. I understand that you view it differently. I understand your reasons. I just don't agree with them. I just wonder if there will ever be a brave enough pol who will speak honestly about who he or she is and what they believe they can do and what their true position is. But I won't hold my breath.

    Inspector, you ask an interesting question and the Facebook commenter had a good answer. I am not so sure any of us can be both responsible and irresponsible at the same moment. But I am sure that any of us can be one or the other at any specific moment in time or in any situation. I have been both but not at the same time. I also can be, and have been, responsible for my irresponsibility. Also, irresponsible with my responsibilities.

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  21. Sorry for the typo... "rather then" should be "rather than"

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  22. I thought that was the case IC re.anon posting. But anyone can get a profile without having a blog i think.

    I felt almost sorry for our Anon after your refreshing and direct comment Douglas, but in defence of a1, as i hereby christen him/her, no politician can survive the bile and anger of your average voter or opponant who could not cope with honesty if it gave them a blow-job.

    I hereby apologise to the anon accused of being 'disagreeable' (playing with his 'disagreement' with IC),and would like to ask him if he could fix a short Blogger i/d so we can link his valued comments to a single person.

    As regards to the current theme, I have no further comment, nor the faintest idea who Katie Kouric is.

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  23. Nope CorfuBob, one can not distinguish between one Anon on Blogger, and another. It is a standard, generic option available to commenters posting their comments. It would be nice to have Anon1, Anon2, Anon3, etc.

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  24. Inspector, all names can be false on the internet. One does not need to use "anonymous" at all. As Corfubob said, "But anyone can get a profile without having a blog i think." It is not difficult, it takes only a moment. One could be a "general" or an "Inspector" or even a politician. One could be "John Smith" (the name I habitually write on motel registrations).

    We can be anything we want on the internet, can't we?

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  25. I am one of the other people, not the politician, who comments anonymously. Why? Because I have no interest in having a Google account, and permitting this corporate behemoth to use my personal information for its purposes. Most people just accept the rules and guidelines when signing up for an account without appreciating the use their private information will be used for. I do not want my information distributed to other corporation for their marketing purposes.

    The question asked in the title of this article is whether a person can be simultaneously responsible and irresponsible at the same time.

    I was just channel surfing on my TV this morning and found tons of religious programming. While I find the methods used by ministers, clergy, rabbis, priests and the lots to be deceptive, dishonest, and therefore irresponsible, it appears that lots of people think that they and their leaders are responsible.

    There's the simple answer to the question.

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  26. Of COURSE priests are resposible Anon. Responsible for the lies, cruelty, bigotry, and false hopes they spread throughout the world.

    Here's an idea - you could stick a name after your next comment - Jon, for instance. Google would never know but we would. (providing you remember it)

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  27. Here in the US, we continue to survey the horrendous damage done by Mother Nature to the Southern region of the country.

    Query: Should the US govt (or ANY government for that matter) “bail out” the residents and businesses in the storm devastated Southern states?

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  28. Those storms were horrendous. I wouldn't say "bail out" but the usual extremely low interest loans, assistance on clean-up, and logistics support should be made available. To be fair, the damage cost is a drop in the bucket of the national budget. The problem is that each drop is now making a difference. How do we "pay" for the bailouts? Whenever a tax cut is proposed, that's the question. Perhaps we should ask it about all expenditures, too.

    A footnote: as we were driving back across north Florida (I-10) from Biloxi, we saw a few convoys of power company trucks heading for Alabama; Progress Energy and Florida Power and Light. But they will need more, heavy equipment (bulldozers and cranes) as well as trash trucks and the manpower for all of them.

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  29. IC your last question is hitting the crux of the issue. ("Should the US govt (or ANY government for that matter) “bail out” the residents and businesses in the storm devastated Southern states?") We are fortunate to live in the most giving nation in the world. Personal & corporate contributions to private organizations to help those in need far outpace what government can or should do. This is the "personal responsibility" each of us has to help our fellow citizens. It is only when we lose this personal responsibility and grow dependent of government that things get out of control (like Katrina). So I guess the question is: Are we replacing "personal responsibility" with a "collective responsibility" that is only manageable by some government bureaucrat?

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  30. Coop:

    Very nice articulation of one of the issues which we hoped to explore through this post. Thank you.

    Over the past couple of years, we posed this question in numerous forms. There is a segment of society which feels that those receiving various benefits or entitlements are not carrying their fair load. However, should we as a society revisit whether there should be ANY beneficiaries of governmental largesse? Is there a possibility that there are long range negative ramifications which flow from the transfer of responsibility from the individual level to the collective level, beyond the obvious financial ones?

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  31. The question, Inspector, is this:

    "Do we encourage dependence when we provide government support?"

    Certainly, there are times where we seemingly must help and the federal government appears to be the proper agency to supply that help.

    How do we discourage dependence, and encourage independence, while still providing that "safety net" we all seem to think is necessary?

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  32. Whoa.... Douglas.

    Now we're talking! Back to back, unlike our elected officials, you and Coop go right at the issues at hand.

    Douglas wrote:

    "The question, Inspector, is this:

    "'Do we encourage dependence when we provide government support?'"

    Absolutely Douglas. It's the nature of living organisms. Think about evolutionary adjustments.


    Douglas continued to write:

    "Certainly, there are times where we seemingly must help and the federal government appears to be the proper agency to supply that help."

    Why SHOULD we help Douglas? Why shouldn't every single individual, with the possible exception of children from 1 day to 18, be responsible for their own...?

    Douglas wrote:

    "How do we discourage dependence, and encourage independence, while still providing that 'safety net' we all seem to think is necessary?"

    Do all of us think so? Some might theoretically argue that there are so many varying justifications for helping this one and the next that there really is no standard. Shouldn't every one be treated exactly or equally the same?

    Do the exceptions essentially swallow up the rule and create disrespect for the effort to assist because the application is so perverted? Why do we have hard working people complaining about other hard working people receiving government largesse?

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  33. One man's responsibility is another man's irresponsibility. Responsibility is learned and some people are brought up or even conditioned to be irresponsible. That needs to change. So if responsibility is not taught in the home it should be taught in schools. Our politicians would do well to set examples. Unfortunately that is not always the case. Our plagiarizing former defense minister is a good example. I see nothing wrong with government support, but don't simply hand it out! Make people pay back a portion or all of it. If they are jobless let them work for it. There are plenty of people in each of our countries that are willing to work, but can't find work. Why not have them do volunteer work??? Hardworking honest people will love the idea of being able to work even without pay. It will give them a sense of worth.
    In Germany we made the mistake of changing our former separate welfare and unemployment systems to Harz4. Now hardworking people who've lost their jobs are treated the same as people who do not want to work. That is wrong in my view. My government has never thought of penalizing those unwilling to work. Instead, they receive handouts. In terms of creating jobs, they came up with some good ideas (reducing work hours and 1 Euro jobs) but that was and still is used by our Corporations and "Sleeping Giants" to make some additional money. Some long- term unemployed do have the opportunity to go to school to learn another profession, sounds good right? However, that only means that they fall off the unemployment statistics for 3 years and afterwards are right back on, as they are being trained on jobs that are not needed. We do have similar programs for school drop outs. It's not very encouraging for a youth to know that you are being trained to be a gas station attendant if you know that our service stations are self -serve!
    So in a nutshell, in order to have more responsible citizens some things that need to change are the current Education, Wellfare, Unemplyment Systems. While we're at it, why not change our criminal justice system?? Instead of just giving a jail sentence to someone that commits robbery or fraud for example (including white collar criminals) we could also have them work to repay the damage they've done after they are released from jail.

    To Anonymus, who wrote: "Expressing one's true views is the direct opposite of being a good politician". I'm with Douglas on this one. I'm getting the impression that your view of a good politician is shared by lots of politicians worldwide. Whatever happened to be true to yourself?

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  34. I forgot to mention that in my view we're both responsible and irresponsible at times.Some more, some less! Nothing wrong with it as long as we're accountable for our irresponsibility's and don't blame them on others!

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  35. Coop said 'We are fortunate to live in the most giving nation in the world. Personal & corporate contributions to private organizations to help those in need far outpace what government can or should do.

    There are profound errors buried in this comment and in IC's questions.

    Is it not a profound mistake to make so much distinction between Corporation and Government. Both are run by people. Both 'govern' our lives. Both employ greedy megalomaniac psychopaths. Both want to put aside capital for later. (profit/tax) Both ration what the populace can have to live on.

    Corporations profit from healthy and contented workers/managers, but they need unemployment to hold wages down, and in turn to be competitive in the market. How can competing corporations possibly judge these levels correctly?

    Government (currently) needs to maintain a minimum income for those who both cannot and who do not want to work. If it knew how to distinguish between them it would do so!

    Some people are simply nasty and no employer wants them in the work-place. Who can blame them, but nasty people have to live, and not FORCED into crime by natural exclusion.

    If corporations are more capable of running things it's because they are allowed to pay more to the managers, NOT because the problems of management are intrinsically greater. Can anyone disagree with that?

    Profits are ultimately limited by resources available to which value can be added.

    In the meantime some of you may be tempted to believe that enterprise should not be limited, but it will have to be, and BEFORE important resources become too expensive for the things ordinary people need.

    Your amazing society can produce the real brains needed to set up corporations that can govern Americans fairly. The top men and women will and must be rich enough, whether they produce or share out the wealth from shared offices.

    Do you support the fight between Enterprise and Government my friends?

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  36. The top men and women will and must be rich enough, whether they produce or share out the wealth from shared offices. Sorry, too compact.

    I meant to say that the people who create the wealth and the people who employ profits to enhance the markets with schools, hospitals, roads support for the un-employed and un-employable etc. could work together. The top people would deserve to be rich, but what need do you see for the degree of enmity that exists between enterprise and government now?

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  37. "Why SHOULD we help Douglas? Why shouldn't every single individual, with the possible exception of children from 1 day to 18, be responsible for their own...?"
    IC? the'possible' exception of young children? (I paraphrase) YOU would not ask that question Inspector, Was it worth asking? Some of these 'individuals' are not capable of being responsible for themselves or anyone else. Some don't have friends or family.

    Human nature exists in a continuum, there are no lines dividing 'types', and the types are not clearly defined.

    But the important fact is that modern society can afford to support the weak, and by doing so (without allowing the very greedy to set the rules), will produce an even more productive society. Look at Scandinavia and the Netherlands.

    The very ambitious and greedy will NOT support the weak - they will also avoid contact with very poor people. They won't set rules which benefit the less able.

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  38. It appears that this topic has more legs than originally thought.

    Welcome back wSteffie and thanks for your contributions.

    CorfuBob, you brought out some interesting points.

    We're deferring responding to both of your contributions until some of our other readers have an opportunity to do so.

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  39. Very interesting. This does give me some food for thought.

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  40. Thank you Jamwes for paying us a visit. Our primary goal is to provide some food for thought. All views are welcome.

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  41. Bob, I agree that some corporations are akin to governments in many ways except with the major difference being they are spending their earned money not someone else's.
    I think the term Government is used indiscriminately. I believe that if it is the responsibility of a government entity, then that responsible government entity should be as local to the issue as possible and of the size best able to handle the problem. Local, then State, then Federal. We are fast approaching the point where those in well run states will be paying for the bailouts of those states that have badly managed themselves.
    Natural disasters might be a good example of this point: Katrina affected several states and stretched the capabilities of all involved so looking to Federal assistance was appropriate. Recently, the Federal government told Texas that the fires they experienced would have to be handled by the state. Floods along the Missouri river a few years ago were for the most part the burden of the states involved, etc. Recent southern states affected by massive damage due to the tornados will receive help from NGOs, States and Federal programs.
    If this same thought process could be applied to individual aid programs it might help. When it comes to taking care of those in need, I think it is equally important to determine those best to handle the issue.
    First – should it be private sector or government, if government, what level. It is too easy to just say the Feds should handle all issues. There is a huge burden implicitly accepted if all things become Federal. I think ultimately, this places too much power and the potential for corruption in the hands of Federal bureaucrats and elected officials.
    Private entities also look to see the effectiveness of their programs and make adjustments as necessary; it seems that our governments don’t. As a result, they continue doing the same things at our expense that don’t solve the problem. But that is probably getting off the subject of responsibility.

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  42. What the problems actually are is not always clear, but some entity has to try finding out and applying solutions. It is not always possible to quantify in cash terms the benefit (profit) to society of solving problems, and therefore no way to invite investment.

    the difference between income 'earned' and tax collected is not always so clear as you seem to claim Coop. The cost falls on people - who else is there to pay? Do heroin producers for example, EARN their enormous profits? Heroin costs less to produce that sugar. Companies are responsible to shareholders, they can resist paying for things that do not create profit for their own shareholders - the law is on their side.

    In other words there is no profit in many things that communities need building, services that they need providing. There is no 'market' in essential things poor people need. But there is plenty of market for things that are entirely damaging to people and at the same time create a cost to society. Corruption is not the monopoly of bureaucrats/officials, but enterprise can pay for the best brains, BEFORE what's left is taxed. Can you dispute these points Coop?

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  43. wsteffie wrote:

    "One man's responsibility is another man's irresponsibility. Responsibility is learned and some people are brought up or even conditioned to be irresponsible. That needs to change. So if responsibility is not taught in the home it should be taught in schools."

    The first sentence of your comment succinctly sums up the essence of this blog post.

    We found it interesting that some considered the title of our piece, "Can One Be Responsible and Irresponsible at the Same Time," to be somehow inappropriate, impossible, or a frivolous effort on our part to examine the complexities of human conduct.

    We really had to think about this criticism of the posing of the question, since we consider all forms of criticism to be constructive and potentially accurate.

    Shouldn't we, as members of society, question every single thing we do (as individuals, groups, states, etc.) on a regular basis? Shouldn't we view the human condition from every imaginable perspective theoretically possible?

    What makes one person's or one group's view of anything the one which merits our expenditure of time and effort, and the others not?

    Wsteffie also mentioned that if responsibility is not taught in the home, it should be taught in the schools.

    It reminded us of a news piece we heard on NPR a few years ago.

    The newly elected Prime Minister of either New Zealand or Australia, shortly after taking office, apologized for the government's involvement in a project designed to assist a certain group of children. The apology turned out to be a controversial move, since many felt that no apology was necessary. (We tried to locate some account of this event but could not do so in the short time which we devoted. If someone is able to locate a newspaper or other account of this, it would be appreciated. Since we could not locate the actual facts, we have to be careful about how we describe the governmental effort.)

    It appears that the government identified a certain segment of society which had historically been disadvantaged as a result of governmental and societal treatment. The thought was that a high percentage of the children of this group would continue to disadvantaged.

    In order to stop this cycle, the government took the children of some of the parents of the group, and provided the children with many "advantages" of life, typically available to members of higher socio-economic classes - better education, better food, better healthcare, etc.

    The mothers of the children complained for years about this policy. The newly elected Prime Minister apologized upon taking office. Should he or she have done so?

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  44. I don’t disagree with some of your points, but I think we have a philosophical disagreement regarding the source of funds for corporations vs. government. True corporations answer to shareholders and some government officials answer to taxpayers/voters.

    The incentives however are different. Corporations must produce and sell to consumers. If they aren’t competitive or the quality isn’t there, then the corporation loses revenue and could even go out of business.

    Government simply taxes producers, individual or corporations. In many cases the taxes are levied without regard of the “profit” realized. Gasoline, food, sales taxes etc.

    I agree that ultimately the individual pays all the freight. But we have a choice when it comes to private enterprise and we don’t have a choice when it comes to government funding.

    Using your example of the heroin dealer: His profit is high because the cost of the product is low, but there are other “costs” that the drug dealer incurs that are additive to the cost of the product. If you looked at a “risk adjusted” profit, his/her take may not be so out of line with industry profit expectations. Demand/Supply and competition also significantly affect the cost.

    Services provided by government can all be evaluated on a cost/return basis. Corporations employ this type of analysis to every product or service delivered to a customer. There is no reason government can’t do the same.

    Delivery of services and food/shelter to the poor can be evaluated on a cost per basis. This can be compared to the cost of government delivering the service or an NGO providing the same service at x amount, then as taxpayers we decide which delivery method is best.

    My point is that there may be instances where government is the best provider and others where they are not competitive. If we forced our government to play by the same “competitive” rules applied to corporations we would probably significantly increase services and lower cost due to this efficiency model.

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  45. IC, I think you are referring to the old practice in Australia of taking Aboriginal children from their parents and giving them to "adopted" parent of means in order to break the cycle. This was, I believe done in the Late 1800's and early 1900's up until the 2nd world war.

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  46. Interestingly, we had to re-visit our own post to try to remember what the original subject was, since our commenters took the conversation to other places. We noted this occurrence on many occasions in the past, which has prompted some of our readers to complain.

    However, we view it as a good thing since it reflects the interconnectedness of all decisions we make regarding ourselves and those with whom we interact.

    When you originally generated the piece, our thoughts were about how long someone should pursue a goal or be involved in some effort or project before they decide that it is not cost-effective or desirable for them to continue. (That's why we stated at the beginning that the post was about Katie Kouric, the CBS Evening News anchor who left after an unusually short period of time.)

    We felt that in the eyes of some, leaving at Point A would be irresponsible; in the eyes of others that would be Point B; and still in the case of others, Point C. On the other hand, many could regard the same points as responsible points to leave.

    Each individual in society makes choices and decisions affecting themselves and others. Some individuals become leaders of families, local groups, non-profits, for-profit corporations, and governments. Consequently, how we view decisions on an individual level are relevant to the decisions made by larger entities consisting of a few or many individuals.

    Many times it may be difficult or even downright inaccurate (in the eyes of those with opposing views) to label an act or some conduct as "responsible" or "irresponsible."

    It depends on where one stands, and where one has been.

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  47. I thought the post was about Katie Couric?

    Enough jest. I think we have images that interfere with our logic and rationality. I saw mention of the unemployed as both "unfortunate" and as "lazy". It is true that both collect unemployment and, perhaps, welfare but the problem I thought I was bringing up was how do we tell the difference and, assuming we could, how might we treat them differently?

    I don't think the welfare and unemployment rolls are filled with ugly people who smell bad and, therefore, cannot get a job. Though I am fairly sure that is the reason that some (a very small number) to be in need.

    You can be ugly and get a job. Happens all the time. I have worked with plenty of ugly people.

    If you are dirty, have bad habits that you do not hide, and a poor attitude, you can wash regularly, learn to hid those habits and suppress the attitude. But will you? What's your incentive?

    That's where the problem with the government helping lies. Let me try an analogy (or is it a metaphor?):

    When I was young, my mother would try to get me to clean my room. But she would always clean it if I didn't. So I didn't. Later, my father told my mother not to clean my room, to leave it to me. I still didn't clean it. Because there was no adverse consequence. My room, dirty and slovenly, was ignored.

    Clearly, neither doing for me (bailout, welfare) helped nor did ignoring the problem (because I learned to live in squalor).

    I think the problem is unsolvable but I think that politicians get a lot of votes playing the game.

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  48. CorfuBob and Coop engaged in a very enlightening discussion about the roles of private enterprise and government in the lives of citizens in western-industrialized nations, and the extent to which they perform responsible or irresponsible acts.

    CorfuBob wrote:

    "Is it not a profound mistake to make so much distinction between Corporation and Government. Both are run by people. Both 'govern' our lives. Both employ greedy megalomaniac psychopaths. Both want to put aside capital for later. (profit/tax) Both ration what the populace can have to live on."

    CorfuBob, permit us this license since we can't resist. Although we rarely suggest that anyone has "erred," in their thinking, let us borrow a line from one of your comments in response to Coop:

    "There are profound errors buried in this comment and in [your] questions."

    We're just being silly; however, on a serious note, there are profound differences, both positive and negative, between corporations (which we will call the private sector) and governments.

    Although this consists of many generalizations, here is a list of differences between the private sector and the government sector as set forth by one of our loyal readers some time ago. We do not support or endorse any of the positions taken here, but provide them merely as a springboard for discussion.

    On the private side:

    1. Some people are willing to work 100 hours per week.

    2. There is not much in the way of planning for the long-term, since short-term profits are the key.

    3. The quality of the products produced and services rendered is higher.

    4. They attract higher quality people with better credentials.

    5. The bottom line is making more money.

    6. When they run out of money, although they may borrow some for a while, their days of existence are generally few.

    7. They learn to run lean and mean.

    8. They try to look after the interests of a very limited group consisting of themselves and their shareholders.

    As for governmental entities:

    1. Rarely are their employees willing to long hours, and generally try to reduce their hourly input / load.

    2. Since they stay in the same place and position longer, government folks are more likely to engage in long-term planning.

    3. Government generates poorer quality products and services, because they can not fire people are quickly or easily, and people are not as highly motivated to excel.

    4. Government attracts people with poorer credentials.

    5. The goal in government is to provide minimal services, keep a significant number of constituents from getting pissed off, and ensuring the re-election of the elected leaders.

    6. Government takes money from working people and private sector contributions.

    7. Government employees have far more job security and can go on performing poorly long-term.

    8. Governments rarely run lean and mean. Just take a look at the number of street repair workers standing around anytime you pass by one of their holes.

    9. Government tries to look after the interests of everyone and generally does a poor job of taking care of anyone.

    Repeat, this is not our list, and we can quarrel about some of the characterizations; however, it highlights significant differences between the two types of entities.

    We generated a piece some months ago, Why Dumping on BP is a Bunch of BS. It fascinates us that society is frequently pissed off at the selfishness of an entity whose primary goal is to make money for itself and its shareholders.

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  49. CorfuBob wrote:

    "[T]he people who create the wealth and the people who employ profits to enhance the markets with schools, hospitals, roads support for the un-employed and un-employable etc. could work together. The top people would deserve to be rich, but what need do you see for the degree of enmity that exists between enterprise and government now? "

    Imagine two dogs. Dog 1 goes out every day and hunts up food to bring back to the camp, finds materials to make the camp more comfortable, and is constant search for an even better camp in which to live.

    Dog 2 sits back at home, dictates to Dog 1 how he or she should conduct him or herself on a daily basis, takes a portion of the food without asking, and complains about the quality of the quarters found by Dog 1.

    Arguably, isn't Dog 2 just a "taker," who contributes little to the pack?

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  50. Thanks Coop for your comment about the Aboriginal children in Australia. We thought that it might have been Aboriginals and Australia, but could not quickly find a reference source. However, it also thought that the practice was much more recent, perhaps in the 1960s. Now our curiosity is piqued, and we must investigate this further.

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  53. In January 2008, newly elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made an apology to the Aboriginal people. Here's the link to the reason for the apology and the controversy which ensured.

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  54. CorfuBob wrote:

    "But the important fact is that modern society can afford to support the weak, and by doing so (without allowing the very greedy to set the rules), will produce an even more productive society. Look at Scandinavia and the Netherlands."

    While an argument can be made that support should be provided by some source to the truly weak (such as people in wheelchairs), why should those who choose to run 100 mph to generate income and wealth in society have to take care of those who only choose to run 5 mph? (We should note that we frequently encounter people with various physical disabilities who are more independent and capable than those without disabilities.)

    BTW, some years ago "The Today Show" on NBC did a program on the Scandinavian countries and interviewed some citizens. We will never forget seeing the interview of a middle class citizen who had a university education, good health care, and adequate food to place on his family's plates.

    His most significant disappointment or complaint? Not having made any decisions in life to achieve or acquire what he had. He wished that he really knew his own personal capabilities and whether he was capable of making good choices.

    We're not saying that everyone feels that way, but it is an interesting perspective which might not readily come to mind.

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  55. CorfuBob wrote:

    "Human nature exists in a continuum, there are no lines dividing 'types', and the types are not clearly defined."

    We are in 100% absolute agreement with you Bob. You won't get an argument from us on this subject.

    However, we seriously doubt that the majority of people in the Universe have this view. Additionally, on a pragmatic level, there is only so much time in a day to assess and evaluate others. Consequently, people are far more likely to "categorize" and "pigeonhole" others for efficiency purposes. It's the nature of animals.

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  56. Coop? "Services provided by government can all be evaluated on a cost/return basis." I appreciate your response but I beg leave to be abrupt in respect of the above quote. Such a statement will pass many reading this as reasonable, even intelligent, I fear. Sadly it is neither, and I don't propose this as an opinion.

    The 'cost' of services to society can NOT be 'evaluated' because their value has to be measured both over time, and also in non-cash terms. The 'return' cannot be evaluated for the same reasons. Coop, how would you evaluate the value of taxes on tobacco after evaluating just the cash costs of medicine and loss of labour directly caused by smoking. Leave out the pleasure of smoking and the pain of disease. Western governments have waged a long and hard campaign against tobacco, and reduced its incidence and all kinds of costs as a result. Let's argue that this has been of great benefit to society. Did private enterprise spring to invest in the campaign at the time?

    I happen to believe that the US can be proud of the range of services provided by private enterprise, but when short-term profit can beat human needs to the resources available - INCLUDING skilled and humane management - what will happen to society? Are we beginning to see in recent US events?

    IC I happen to know both these dogs, and the one with one eye, three legs and a loud bark is a qualified guard dog. The other is hyper-active and heading for a second mental breakdown. How could you forget to mention these facts eh?

    You know that dogs - sorry, people come in all shapes and sizes, and society can produce enough wealth to allow everyone to feel human and wanted PROVIDING those with the highest levels of energy, intelligence, and financial ability are not drawn excessively into the sector that produces the wealth, leaving the equally important sector that distributes this wealth fairly (NOT equally, I did not say equally,) without sufficient resources to maintain a healthy and productive society. I happen to believe that private enterprise could run most organisations without producing this growing sub-class of disadvantaged that blight your great culture. Production is not everything is it? Individualism is not everything, strength is not everything.

    Enterprise needs governing.

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  57. Coop, you provided a very well thought out analysis of the potential roles which local, state, and the federal government could play in the environment as we currently know it.

    However, why do we even need government at all, except perhaps for military purposes? Do we really need national level coordination, cooperation, and regulation?

    Why not allow the individual states to pursue life as they desire, and let people choose where to live based on the policies and priorities of that state.

    Some might argue that if we left the choice to individual states as to how they might best handle their local concerns, we would still have slavery, or at least Jim Crow. Obviously, America, as a whole was not ready for integration in the late 1950s and 1960s, and as some have long argued, desegregation was "forced" on America through efforts of a very small activist group, outside of the affected states, and the Warren Supreme Court rulings.

    Should Jim Crow laws been continued to this day since the individual local states wanted to continue them?

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  58. Ah hah... CorfuBob wrote:

    "What the problems actually are is not always clear, but some entity has to try finding out and applying solutions. It is not always possible to quantify in cash terms the benefit (profit) to society of solving problems, and therefore no way to invite investment."

    Hmmm. "some entity." Sweet CorfuBob, sweet. Hmmm....

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  59. Coop wrote:

    "Services provided by government can all be evaluated on a cost/return basis. Corporations employ this type of analysis to every product or service delivered to a customer. There is no reason government can’t do the same. "

    Coop, there is arguably a simple reason why governments can not function in the same manner as corporations - they are not sufficiently motivated.

    At best, the electorate will vote out the elected leader with whom it is dissatisfied. The remaining infrastructure of the government continues to exist year after year, after year.

    When a corporate fails to deliver, it goes out of business. Government don't, and the vast majority of the employees continue to be employed. How can anything really change when changes only occur at the top when governments fail to deliver?

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  60. On an episode of The Hills:

    Man: I don't ever want to have kids.

    Woman: Yes, you do. You just don't know me yet.

    Responsible parenting decisions or irresponsible?

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  61. Douglas wrote:

    "I think the problem is unsolvable but I think that politicians get a lot of votes playing the game. "

    We love the saying that if there is no solution to the problem, there is no problem.

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  62. CorfuBob wrote:

    "Production is not everything is it? Individualism is not everything, strength is not everything."

    Some would argue that competition is... everything, and the driving force behind evolution.

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  63. Our recollection was that the removal of the Aboriginal children was relatively recent in Australian history. According to the "Stolen Generations" article, the removals took place from 1869 until 1969, although some may have taken place in some local areas in 1970.

    It reminded us of Coop's comments about having government responsible for certain things on the local level. Should the local jurisdiction, which continued the removals into 1970, been allowed to do so since that's what the local folks thought best?

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  64. Douglas wrote:

    "I think the problem is unsolvable but I think that politicians get a lot of votes playing the game. "

    We love the saying that if there is no solution to the problem, there is no problem.

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  65. On an episode of The Hills:

    Man: I don't ever want to have kids.

    Woman: Yes, you do. You just don't know me yet.

    Responsible parenting decisions or irresponsible?

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  66. What the problems actually are is not always clear, but some entity has to try finding out and applying solutions. It is not always possible to quantify in cash terms the benefit (profit) to society of solving problems, and therefore no way to invite investment.

    the difference between income 'earned' and tax collected is not always so clear as you seem to claim Coop. The cost falls on people - who else is there to pay? Do heroin producers for example, EARN their enormous profits? Heroin costs less to produce that sugar. Companies are responsible to shareholders, they can resist paying for things that do not create profit for their own shareholders - the law is on their side.

    In other words there is no profit in many things that communities need building, services that they need providing. There is no 'market' in essential things poor people need. But there is plenty of market for things that are entirely damaging to people and at the same time create a cost to society. Corruption is not the monopoly of bureaucrats/officials, but enterprise can pay for the best brains, BEFORE what's left is taxed. Can you dispute these points Coop?

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  67. Very interesting. This does give me some food for thought.

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  68. IC your last question is hitting the crux of the issue. ("Should the US govt (or ANY government for that matter) “bail out” the residents and businesses in the storm devastated Southern states?") We are fortunate to live in the most giving nation in the world. Personal & corporate contributions to private organizations to help those in need far outpace what government can or should do. This is the "personal responsibility" each of us has to help our fellow citizens. It is only when we lose this personal responsibility and grow dependent of government that things get out of control (like Katrina). So I guess the question is: Are we replacing "personal responsibility" with a "collective responsibility" that is only manageable by some government bureaucrat?

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  69. Sorry for the typo... "rather then" should be "rather than"

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  70. Oh, by the way I thought the only two things certain in life were:

    Death and

    Taxes.

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