What is one major difference between capitalism and socialism regarding the individual? Personal responsibility. Many Millennials (and people on the left in general) have developed an allergic reaction to those two words. Personal responsibility means we are accountable for our decisions, and being accountable for our decisions means recognizing that our lives are the cumulative result of our voluntary actions. In short, if your life isn’t what you want it to be, that’s on you.
What makes a free market society successful is its center around freedom and individual liberty. Hard work, meritocracy, and ownership of the rewards of your labor are at the epicenter. No law or system is holding you back or keeping you down (except maybe some government overreach in regulating business). Capitalism is simply an environment of consenting transactions that bring about a benefit to both participating parties. This system of voluntary dealings forces us to accept that life truly is what we make of it.
However, since free market capitalism revolves around the idea that “life is what you make of it”, we must take responsibility for the shortcomings in our lives. This is where society has drawn the line. Loan forgiveness, free healthcare, free college, a bigger welfare state, and creating a core centralized federal power that dictates the market are now mainstream democrat talking points. We look at our individual situations to determine how we view capitalism. If we have a great job and are happy with our lives, we love capitalism. If we are struggling to make ends meet and have loan debt, we hate capitalism. It doesn’t matter that we’re seeing record low unemployment, have experienced GDP growth in virtually every quarter of our adult lives, and have a life more well off than any generation in human history. We don’t care. We look at our personal situation and if that doesn’t match what we want our lives to be we blame the system, not ourselves.
Many of you have read the Brookings Institution’s study that found if you follow three simple rules you will virtually be guaranteed to never be permanently poor. These are: keep a full-time job, graduate high school, and don’t have children until you’re married. What are all of these? They are choices. Choices matter. In fact, they’re everything. Yet, we have an entire party telling us it’s not our fault, and the decisions we make have nothing to do with how our lives will turn out. If you have failed, fallen short, or haven’t seen the success you expected, then something is inherently wrong with the system. This mentality drives up ego, breaks down personal responsibility, and moves us in the direction of government reliance. Life is no longer “what you make of it,” but rather “life is what government can make for you.”
The lack of responsibility is correlated with the excessive value we put on our self-esteem and feelings. We can’t stand to be wrong, to take a hit to our ego, or to accept that something we did resulted in our current situation. This is especially evident in the student loan crisis. Students are taking out loans to go to expensive liberal arts colleges to get a degree in communications or creative writing and end up graduating with thousands in debt and moving in with their parents because they can’t establish a career. This begs the question, who put the gun to your head and forced you to take out a $45k loan and go to UC-Berkley to get a degree in philosophy? Don’t blame societal pressures and don’t blame the system. The blame, whether you believe it or not, solely lies with you. Life is full of options, not binary choices. No one, not capitalism and not the government, forces you to make the decisions you do. That’s called socialism. Socialism is the system that eliminates personal choice and individual liberty. Socialism is the system that forces you to act, it is merely immoral action to create a false sense of morality.
When I write, I trust readers will use discretion and apply nuance where needed. I am not saying all young people think the same, I am not saying there aren’t outlying circumstances, and I am not saying some people aren’t more disadvantaged than others. There will always be exceptions to the rule, but that doesn’t mean we change the rule. We all live in the same reality but we don’t all accept reality. In a nation built on free market capitalism we must acknowledge that we are the masters of our decisions. Thus, we are the masters of our lives. We should find comfort knowing we live in a country where the only thing separating us from success and failure is ourselves. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we find out that we don’t need a government controlled life. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we find out we don’t want what the democrat platform is selling.
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