Personal Responsibility

This recent piece by Thomas Sowell discusses the Businessweek article on WalMart that I wrote about here. He makes a very good point about lifestyle choices and wages that is also relevant to the current strikes over healthcare benefits.

Journalists apparently want part of that kind of action as well. Hence the BusinessWeek writer's notion that Wal-Mart ought to pay its clerks enough to support a family of three. How many of these clerks actually have a family of three to support on one salary is not mentioned. Nor is any thought given to whether it makes sense that one person is supposed to make decisions — having children — and someone else is supposed to pay the costs entailed by their decision.

I don't understand when and how it was decided that people are no longer responsible for their actions, and that corporations or the government are supposed to give them what they need, even if they have made bad decisions. I'm all for taking care of those who can't take care of themselves, but I wonder – how many people could take care of themselves but haven't learned how because they don't ever accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions?

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I believe corporations do have some social responsibility, but it does not entail paying people according to "need." People should consider whether or not they can afford their lifestyle, and that includes having children. I have worked in many low wage jobs in high school and college, and most of the people who worked there and made lousy wages were lousy people. They were dolts who couldn't figure out how to cook a hamburger, had no ambition, were constantly negative, and made horrible decisions in their personal lives. Sure I worked with some sharp people too, but they usually moved up the ranks, or eventually found better jobs. Some of you may not agree with this, but I think 90% of people in this world get what they deserve. A few have really bad luck, and a few have a very easy road, but most of us get out of life what we have put into it.

(For those who think the really rich have it so great, I would say read more about the personal lives of some of these people. Most of them have serious happiness issues.)