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So what should we do about people who won’t take responsibility for their own actions? I believe the answer is simple:

Set them free.

Give them the freedom to make their own decisions, to face the consequences of their own acts, to see for themselves what their actions do to others and how others respond to them.

Only free people have an incentive to be virtuous. Only people who bear the consequences of their own acts will care about those consequences and try to learn from their mistakes.

A free society rewards virtue and punishes irresponsibility. Government does just the opposite – subsidizing irresponsibility while taxing work and responsibility.

What do we do about people who might not plan for their own retirement?

Set them free.

Let each person know that his future depends largely on his own actions. If younger people see older people who haven’t planned ahead and have to rely on charity, the young will be more likely to provide for the future. Today when someone plans poorly, the only consequence people see is a demand for more government.

What do we do about people who are insensitive to other people?

Set them free.

Let other people shun them or respect them for what they do. Let each person bear the results of being civil or uncivil.

Freedom and responsibility

It’s often said that freedom and responsibility are two sides of the same coin – that if you want freedom, you must first accept the responsibility that goes with it.

The truth is simpler. Freedom and responsibility aren’t interconnected things. They are the same thing.

Freedom is responsibility. Responsibility is experiencing the consequences of your own acts – not the consequences of others’ acts or making others pay for what you do.

And that’s what freedom is. Without government to force others to pay for your pleasures or mistakes, and without forcing you to pay for what others do, you are a free, responsible human being.

Freedom and responsibility are inseparably linked – not because they should be, but because they are. Responsibility accompanies freedom, whether or not you want it to.

So the only way to induce people to be more responsible is to set them free…”

(SOURCE: How to make people more responsible Posted: February 21, 2002

By Harry Browne, © 2008

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