You Break It, You Buy It

How any times did you hear that as a child, or say it to your kids? Probably more than a few, and the total will certainly rise as we enter the prime shopping season and tote the tots into the malls of America.

But have you really stopped and considered the simple lesson in the phrase? You are responsible for your actions (not me); you must pay for your own mistakes.

Children, of course, need to be reminded of this, as they learn how to be members of society and learn to be careful. But actions being louder than words, what do they see all around them? Do they see consistent evidence of personal responsibility… or passing the buck? Are they seeing the adults around them act like kids?

As an example, take the most primary thing we all “own,” ourselves. If you break  you, it is your responsibility, not society’s. The diabetes level in the overall population is nearing 10%, and is almost a third for seniors. In Oklahoma, it was announced that there was a tripling of diabetes since 1995. But should society be responsible for obesity-related diseases such as diabetes? Of course not. You break it, you buy it. And no, we don’t need to pass any laws to protect you from you and your lack of personal responsibility. Nobody is forcing you to order the quart-size caramel whipped cream mocha latte each afternoon as a treat. And as long as cigarettes are legal, feel free to smoke; just don’t pretend you aren’t aware of what they can do.

How about the mortgage crisis? It is not our responsibility to repay your upside-down home loan. If you can’t afford the debt or the possibility of a (severe) market downturn, don’t buy a house, and for God’s sake don’t take out the equity as a line of credit. Take responsibility and make good on your obligations. Now some may subvert this by suggesting the government or the banking system did the breaking and should do the buying — in most cases that is just an attempt to place blame.  While there is plenty of evidence that government policy encourages irresponsible behavior with regard to home buying (with debt), encouragement is far from a mandate.

Of course, this is all linked to freedom, especially as the knee-jerk reaction of the nanny state is to regulate and legislate away liberty to protect us from ourselves — a ridiculous notion in a free country. Society must demand individuals own up to their own mistakes, and stop allowing the government to come beyond like some giant pooper scooper and let people carry on without any accountability.

So when you are out shopping and you say or hear “you break it you buy it,” take a second and think about it — if you walk it like you talk it, maybe your kids will believe you.