114. Why Is Personal Responsibility Important to Liberty?

To live in a world that is truly free, we have to be able to take personal responsibility for our actions. If we don’t want to be ruled by a tyrannical government, we need to step up and show that we can take care of ourselves and our communities.

Quotes:

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
 

Connor: Hey, Brittany.

Brittany: Hey, Connor.

Connor: We’ve talked a lot about the importance of a free society and different ideas that come into play about what that looks like, but you know, one of the most important things that we can do to foster a truly free world, a society where we have peace and prosperity, is to practice personal responsibility. And so we asked recently what topics we should discuss on this show. In our Facebook group, we have a Tuttletwin’s Facebook group. And this is one theme that was requested actually a few times. So I thought it was important to have its own episode. You know, if we don’t want the government telling us what to do, we have to create a world where we take personal responsibility very seriously. So, you know, we’ve interviewed before Ron Paul, one of our favorite people, former congressman, and presidential candidate, and I really like this quote, from him. He says the number one responsibility for each of us is to change ourselves with hope that others will follow.

Brittany: You know, he said something else that was similar that I think is really important to this theme. Also, he said, the true patriot is motivated by a sense of responsibility and out of self-interest for himself, his family, and the future of his country to resist government abuse of power. He rejects the notion that patriotism means obedience to the state. So it’s not obedience to the state, right? You should be obedient to your own set of values, your own, you know, self-responsibility.

Connor: Yeah, that’s a good quote. It, you know, it might sound selfish when we use terms like self-interest, but, you know, by taking care of ourselves, we help build a world where we can self-govern, where we can be responsible, where we’re not dependent upon other people, right? Like, we don’t need taxpayers to support us. So if I’m self-interested, like I want to get a good job and get a nice house, and have a nice car and support a family, and all these things, I’m interested in my own affairs, but that means that I’m not a burden on other people. I mean, we did a whole episode, when we talked about Jordan Peterson. I know he’s, you’re a fan of.

Brittany: he’s my guy.

Connor: And, you know, getting ourselves together before we try and change the world, right? Like, if you wanna change the world, what does it make your bed or clean your room?

Brittany: Clean your room. Yep.

Connor: Clean your room, which I guess means also making your bed, right? Yeah. But how do we do this? Like, it’s easy to say practice personal responsibility, right? Like, what does that actually mean? And so we wanna take a little bit of time to talk about that today.

Brittany: Yeah. So when we have Larry Reid on the show, I really like that he talked about building good character, because I think this goes hand in hand with this concept. I think personal freedom and responsibility and having good character are kind of indivisible from each other. They’re inseparable from each other, and it helps you build that character. I have one Hayek quote, and we’ve talked about Hayek before that I wanna share. And then Connor, I’ll have you unpack it for our listeners. A free society will not function or maintain itself unless its members regard it as a right. That each individual occupy the position that results from his action and accept it as due to his own action. And I know that that sounds a little bit abstract, but, it’s about, you know, taking responsibility for yourself and for letting other people do the same. But what does that mean for you, Connor?

Connor: I, so what this really means, what Hayek is really saying, again, this is FA Hayek, he won the Nobel Prize. He was a student of Ludwig Von Mises, who we’ve also talked about. So these are free market economists. And what Hayek is talking about is that, is it is important to accept the consequences of our actions. I’ll give you a controversial example.

Brittany: Let’s hear it.

Connor: abortion.

Brittany: Oh, you went there.

Connor: Yeah. Like I say, controversial, this is not a fun topic for a lot of people to talk about. But what’s happening is there are a lot of people who want to go and, and live lifestyles and sleep around with people, right? And then when you have, you know, intimate relations with a member of the opposite sex, then what is likely or potentially going to happen? Well, a pregnancy. And so what happens with abortion, in many cases, certainly not all, but in many, many cases, there are individuals who want to engage in certain activity but not accept the consequences of that activity. They want to just abort the baby. They don’t want a baby, they don’t want, which, you know, has a lot of problems for a lot of reasons, which we won’t talk about. But, the point is that if we want freedom, if we want a, thriving society, we have to be willing to accept right? The consequences of our actions. If we run our business into the ground, if we take out a risky loan, I’ll use another example. Since we, mentioned Ron Paul, he would talk about this often because he represented a part of Texas that is kind of near the Gulf Coast. And so there were, often a lot of hurricanes, right? Destroying homes. And what he would talk about is a term he called, it’s not just his term. The term is called moral hazard. Yep. And so a moral hazard is when you make a decision for reasons because you know, you are kind of gonna be bailed out, in other words, like you’re not gonna feel the full effect. And so let me explain what I mean. There are people in his district and all over the country who will build homes on the edge of a cliff right next to crashing waves or down in a kind of a valley that when the water surges from the gulf, right? The water then follows gravity and fills in this little low-lying area. But these people build there because they know that the government will bail them out if and when anything bad happens, right? There will be aid packages and FEMA will come in and the government’s insurance, whatever, whatever, and they’ll rebuild your home and all this stuff. And so Ron Paul would talk about that, that’s a moral hazard because the government is there to, let people avoid taking responsibility, right? Then people are more willing to engage in risky behavior. I’ll go back to the controversial example, because people know that they can just abort babies, right? They’re more willing to engage in those intimate relationships than they otherwise would be. And so our actions get distorted, and we have less freedom if we’re not willing to abide by the consequences of our decision. So what Hayek is ultimately saying about it, he, again, he says, a free society will not function or maintain itself unless, and then he ends, you know, unless we’re able to accept, the consequences, the results of our own action. And so if we want freedom, we have to be willing to accept the consequences of, our decisions. Otherwise, what we’re asking for is socialism. And socialism in the sense that if I make all my neighbors pay for my fence, what I’m doing is I’m, socializing the cost. I’m putting the cost onto society, right? And so if we don’t want socialism, we have to take care of things ourselves. We need to focus on our own expenses. We need to cover the costs of our own things rather than expecting other people to pay them. Because if we socialize the costs, like, you know, hey everyone, have all the sugar you want, smoke all you want, like when you run into any health problems, you can go to the ER, emergency room, and the hospital, and the government is going to care for you and you’re gonna have Medicaid and we’re gonna pay for everything. Well, again, there’s the moral hazard. People are engaging in behaviors that are unwise, that are harmful because they know or, assume that at some future point when there’s a problem, they’re not gonna have to be the ones to pay for it. Someone else is gonna pay for it. And we won’t have a free society if we keep letting other people make mistakes and then we pay for those mistakes.

Brittany: I think it also goes both ways, cuz it also means we have to let other people make mistakes, right? But, assume that they’re not supposed to get bailed out. And I, think that’s something that big government lovers want to do, right? They’re always thinking, we need to save people from themselves. You know, we don’t want this person to, I’m trying to think of a good example, but there’s so many, let’s look at the war on drugs. You know, we don’t want this person to drugs, therefore let’s make it illegal. And instead of them ruining their lives with drugs, let’s ruin their life by throwing them in jail. There are natural consequences to every single action any of us do. I used to tell my students this all the time. So a lot of teachers will yell at kids to stop tipping their chair back. You remember when you were a kid and you tip your chair back? Oh, yeah. So I would never say not do my only thing was, you know, wait to see what happens if you don’t stop doing that. And there’d always be the kid that fell backwards, right? But, you know, he never did again, tipped his chair back, So I think a lot of this is also not only being self, that being self-responsible isn’t just about, you know, how to get your own life together. It’s also letting other people make mistakes and figuring out theirs without going to the government and saying, oh, this person isn’t being responsible. You know, we need to do this. Because when we do that, again, it does kind of lead to that big government and even socialism, especially when we ask the government to take care of us because we don’t want to do it because we’re neglecting our personal responsibility.

Connor: I like the example you share because it’s one thing to tell kids, Hey, don’t lean back on your chair. And then there’s just supposed to trust you that hey, at some future point, right, something bad might happen. But when, as you point out, right, he falls back, and then he doesn’t do it again. Like, sometimes failure is the greatest teacher. Yes. And if we bail people out, if we prevent them from feeling the full effects of their decisions, we are actually denying them a great learning experience that can lead to growth, that can lead to progress. We’re just saying, oh, we’re gonna enable you and your bad be. I mean, it’s like your, you know, crazy brother is addicted to horrible drugs, and instead of giving him treatment right, and taking him to a doctor and helping him overcome his addiction, you’re instead supplying him with the drugs. Yeah. like that is very irresponsible. No, good sibling or parent would want to encourage that bad behavior. You want to help them snap out of it. and yet when we don’t practice personal responsibility, when we have a society where it’s like, go make the mistakes you want, we’ll bail you out, we’ll take care of you. You know, we’re enabling them to continue making these bad decisions. And that’s why we don’t have freedom is because we’re forcing taxpayers to cover the costs of all of these mistakes that people should be paying for on their own. And probably that would not exist nearly as much if people knew that, you know, they would have to suffer the consequences if people knew that, oh, if I keep, you know, doing this, I’m gonna have to pay for this. If I eat so unhealthy, you know, I’m gonna have this massive medical bill and be in debt. People would be more wise with their decisions if they knew that they wouldn’t be bail or even, you know, the banks, banks wouldn’t engage in risky loans and things like that if they knew that the government wasn’t going to back them out, or that the Federal Reserve wasn’t just gonna save the day. And so we create all these problems when the government says, eh, don’t worry about personal responsibility. Right? You, do you. And then we’ll just come in and clean up after that. And that is just so opposite of a free society.

Brittany: You know? And I think a lot of this is learned in school, especially elementary school. one thing, and this is gonna sound cruel, but I promise it isn’t. Another thing that the school I worked at did is, so let’s say it’s cold outside and you went out at recess. If you did not bring your jacket, we didn’t let you back in to get it, because that was, you know, your time outside. And that sounded really weird. And it’s weird to me how many parents loved it actually because the kids never forgot their jacket again. So it is again, this learning by failure. But I think in a lot of public schools, we coddle kids so much that we don’t let them ever learn personal responsibility. Like, for example, it’s nuts to me that a kid has to ask permission to go to the bathroom. Like, think about how silly that is. You don’t even get to learn to self-regulate yourself. you know, my students were allowed to get up and go. Now, if they were going 15 times in 10 minutes, obviously I was like, all right, something’s going on here. But they didn’t because I gave them the freedom to make their own choices and to practice personal responsibility. They didn’t abuse that privilege. And so I think it’s really sad that a lot of these public schools kind of instill in kids that personal responsibility isn’t important because they’ll always be an authority figure telling you what to do.

Connor: So I have a personal anecdote. the first book that I wrote is called Latter Day Liberty. And this is for people who kind of share my faith, but it’s all about like liberty and limited government, right? And sold a bunch of books. There were a lot of people interested in that. Okay? So then I write the second book, and it was also for people of my faith. And it was kind of a sequel, and it was, called, so the first one was Latter Day Liberty, and this one was called Latter Day Responsibility. And this second book was all about personal responsibility. It was, Hey, look, in that first book we talked all about freedom and why it’s important and we should fight for it. Yeah. Like blah, blah, blah. And then the second book, it’s like, okay, but if we really want all that stuff, here are the things we all need to be doing. And I sold, oh man, maybe one 20th of the number of books as the first one, because liberty is sexy and people like learning about it. It’s awesome, we all want it, but are we willing to put in the work, right? Like, we all love having a clean house but do we really, you know, present company included and by Connor, not Brittany? You know, do we, do we really put in the work Yeah. To, you know, maintain that. And hopefully, my wife doesn’t listen to this podcast and say, ah, you do want a clean house? Go, go do your chore, So, but you know, that speaks to the problem, right? Like, do we really put in the work for the things that we want? And if we want freedom, if we really want a free society, are we going to be responsible or are we gonna shy away from it? Just like I could hardly sell any books about it. It’s not a fun topic. Hey, let me read a book that’s gonna tell me all the things I’m not doing a good job at. Like, looking back, I now realize, yeah, you were never gonna sell very many copies of a book like that, but it’s so important, it’s so essential, right? Like, we’re not gonna have freedom without it. Yep. And, so it’s critical that like, look, even if it’s hard to preach to other people and get them to agree with it, we still need to talk about it. We still need to work on.

Brittany: It. And it seems like it’s really easy to not have responsibility, right? It is so easy. Like, socialism has terrible results, but it’s really easy a be a socialist. Cause you don’t have to do anything. It is really hard to take personal action over your life. But, what is that? You know, no pain, no gain, or whatever those silly motivational quotes are. It is so rewarding when you do that. And you can take the personal responsibility and then you can look at your life and say, oh my goodness, look what I’ve done, and I am now fostering this, you know, freer society. So even though it’s hard work, it’s so rewarding.

Connor: I completely agree. And that’s a great note to end on. So as always, Brittany, thanks and we’ll talk to you next time.

Brittany: Talk to you next time.

 

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