Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Something for Nothing – the Give-me Syndrome

The easy life. People rarely perform to their true potential when they subscribe to any form of the principle that purports an entitlement that exceeds effort: Something for Nothing.

Simply: whenever people accept the “something for nothing” concept as their guiding principle, their performance will suffer – they will not meet their potential.

Frankly, parents are to blame. The something-for-nothing mindset gains a foothold at infancy. Crying babies expect and generally receive attention. When people mature, this is a principle that must be abandoned – it sometimes takes the rest of mortality to let go of this strong sense of entitlement. Instead of moving away from it, many embrace their sense of entitlement with greater and greater dedication. Eventually, the infant is an old man living on social security and medicare. It is the politician responding to his incessant and earsplitting cries.

The greatest enabler of the something-for-nothing mindset is the government. Politicians replace complacent parents. The entitled realize the louder they call for handouts, the more readily the politician will give them out. The entitled do not ever realize that something-for-nothing does not really exist. Someone always has to pay. The responsibility is forced upon someone else. Someone always picks up the tab.

Just as the infant must grow up and become free to act, eventually the adult should learn acting independently requires taking on responsibility for self.


If you could put the word “responsibility” into four letters – four letters everyone understands more fully – it would read “work”. Most people are predisposed to avoid work. Most people find responsibility debilitating and try to avoid it.

In order to remain the receiver of something for nothing, the entitled will learn to beg. They will learn to work the system. They will learn to manipulate others in anyway they can to avoid responsibility.


I listened to the stump speeches yesterday with a sincere sadness. Promises from both candidates suppose a certain amount of pandering to the something-for-nothing crowd. Appealing to the basest of human traits, neither candidate has trumpeted a need for personal responsibility as the way to help the economy emerge from its sad and fallen state. Corporations and their purveyors hold their hands out for more while the taxpayers, too, seek “relief” in the form of a something-for-nothing gift.

The candidates make promises on the backs of generations yet unborn. People who earn wages in the lower 40% of the nation do not pay income taxes. Certain proposed policies will grant these people a something-for-nothing handout. Although they will not pay taxes, they will be the recipients of a “tax refund”. How can you be refunded that which was never paid in the first place?


Government policies, though made with the best of intentions, can be the subjugators of the people. If you make things too easy for the people, the people will not learn to do it alone, on their own. The policies of government should be about making people stronger and able to live independently and responsibly.

Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac were established in a good faith effort to provide housing to those who could not afford housing otherwise. The unintended consequences of these good intentions have come to fruition. Wall Street took this concept another step forward by seeking large profits from a shaky foundation of mortgage securities that were founded on the insecure loans, established a scheme hidden by smoke and mirrors creating many short term fortunes.

The mindset of something-for-nothing fueled the concept that the value of the home people inhabited and the loan used to purchase it were somehow tied together. Since home values dropped, a certain number of the loan recipients found it difficult to continue paying their payments. The dominoes began to fall.


Now, since the people feel entitled and the government supports that entitlement, blame is being thrown about, fingers are pointing and the financial markets are feeling the crunch. Some suggest we’re on the verge of another great depression. Serious questions about how solid the foundation of our economic system really is have surfaced.

When John McCain proclaimed the fundamentals of our economy are sound, the media and the more liberal politicians had a field day. Isn’t “the fundamentals” of our economy capitalism? Isn’t “the fundamentals” of our economy still as valid today as they were 200 years ago? Seriously, it isn’t the fundamentals of our economy that are leaving us wanting. It isn’t the fundamentals of our economy that are leading us to the brink of financial disaster.

The financial disaster can be traced to a lack of personal responsibility. The homeowner who stops paying his mortgage, the mortgage broker generating “creative mortgages”, the Wall Street executive establishing securities that aren’t secure. These are the foundation of the problems Wall Street faces. These are the foundation – the fissure ridden foundation of our current financial crisis.


Yep, once people realize there is no such thing as something for nothing – once a majority understands this principle, things will improve.

So, here is a list of rules that will help protect you from something for nothing.
• There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
• There is no tooth fairy.
• There is no Santa Claus.
• There is no cheap secret formula that works.
• The government is not here to help you.

Essentially, we all need to grow up and realize that anything worth having is worth the work. Responsibility breeds happiness. The pursuit of happiness is guaranteed in the constitution but happiness is not. Happiness cannot be endowed or gifted but is only going to be available to those who are willing to work and accept responsibility.
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