Individual rights, individual responsibilities | NevadaAppeal.com

Individual rights, individual responsibilities

Karl Neathammer

I see where our board of supervisors, in an effort to come to grips with our gang problem, approved the necessary funds for Carson City’s Mentoring Program. It didn’t really come as any big surprise to me.

In this era of “therapy, rehabilitation and social services” as answers to crime and aberrant behavior, arguing against any program that has the words “children at risk” in its mission statement is much like arguing against Christmas and Santa Claus! As long as the taxpayer is available as the primary source of revenue for these experiments in social engineering, what the hell, let’s spend the money and see what happens! Welcome to Nevada, where government is the answer!

There was a time in this country when the individual was responsible for his own life and future, and parents (including single parents) were responsible for their children. It was also a time when family, friends, churches and private philanthropy gave a hand to those who had fallen on hard times, or were having “family problems.” People assumed responsibility for themselves and, in return, enjoyed a level of freedom unknown by today’s citizenry.

What has changed is our concept of justice and personal responsibility. Where the “rule of law” and responsibility once meant respect for the rights of each other, it now means regulation of peoples’ lives and the redistribution of wealth in the collective and driven attempt to make everyone responsible for the actions of gang members, miscreants, psychotics and the other scum that violate us.

Americans have been successful at changing the definition of “equality” from equal respect and protection of everyone’s rights, to legislated special privileges, imposed sacrifices and the invasion into peoples’ lives to such an extent that guaranteed specific outcomes predetermined by government will prevail.

The definition of “responsibility” has also been changed from individual responsibility motivated by self-interest, to mandatory social obligations, in effect, self-sacrifice for the benefit of others. In practice, these changes mean that respect for people has been replaced by the notion that people must live subservient to a “collective-mentality” and the needs of the new “collective-community” with a proscribed set of goals that take precedent over the rights of the individual.

Imposed social obligations means in practice, subjugation to the needs, demands, and will of the “collective community.” Living by such an absurd code of hyperactive altruistic ethics, problems of the non-productive elements of our society become your personal problems!

Mandatory sacrifice to fund a government controlled social engineering program is not a morality that motivates individual success. To the contrary, it makes personal success seem suspect, self-esteem analogous to guilt, pride and happiness regarded as some type of immoral behavior.

Individual rights, in contrast, are a rational code of conduct that promote personal achievement with respect for the rights of others. Coupled with personal responsibility, individual rights suggest that we provide for our own welfare and respect the right of others to act in their own best interest. It is freedom and rational ethics that are being destroyed if we continue to allow the social engineers of our society to redefine justice, equality and individual responsibility.

Today, armed with “federal grants and a program that will help our community,” promoters of these thinly disguised governmental programs will open up peoples’ private lives and their norms of behavior to legal scrutiny and interpretation.

Government now manages our lives, instead of protecting us. The criminal justice system, along with the social services industry, have become behavior modification and rehabilitation institutions of last resort and negligible results.

The justice system, in particular, finds itself in the position of being burdened with the task of correcting behavior problems caused by the failure to expect, reward and teach individual responsibility. Today, a normal mentally competent person who has harmed nobody but acts in a way that may be politically incorrect or utters an insensitive remark, is quickly sanctioned by some governmental agency. Yet the criminal is offered therapy.

In America, being outspoken, independent, hard working, rich or successful should not be behaviors subject to governmental or legal rehabilitation.

Yet why shouldn’t some people take advantage of the taxpayers’ money when the government has unilaterally assumed the responsibility of correcting their behavior? In today’s society, people soon learn that obedience and dependency, not respect and independence, have become the accepted norm. Government provides for all their needs.

If people are subject to extensive governmental regulation and intrusion, people are going to learn to live by relying on deception, false obedience and the acceptance of dependency, and the end result is that they will indulge in abusive and parasitic behavior.

A healthy society does not require its members to behave in a politically prescribed way. It protects the rights of each individual to be left alone, as long as he does not hurt his fellow man.

For me, independent judgment, and the pursuit of happiness, are inalienable rights and a virtue, not a vice. The rule of law should be the foundation of personal liberty and security. Justice and personal responsibility are about holding ourselves and our fellow citizens accountable for their actions, not about political indoctrination and sponsoring programs whose results remain to be seen.

Karl Neathammer is a former lay judge and the chairman of The Burke Consortium, a conservative political action committee. He can be reached at 883-3654.