What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Yesterday I wrote about government intervention and personal responsibility.  Now we have corporate America looking for government protection from themselves and from their responsibilities.  Here’s the money quote, from Joe Sullivan, Chief Security Officer at Facebook, who was speaking at a recent cyber security panel discussion (a link is in the above The Daily Caller article):

We’re going to be making crazy products in 10 years and you guys [the government] are going to have the responsibility for protecting people using those products.

Meanwhile, financial leaders of the G-20 (read: leading politicians of the G-20) are still trying to find ways to bail out bankrupt countries and to inure private investors against the outcomes of their decisions to continue investing in these countries’ junk sovereign debt.

If we still believe in the truths identified in our American social compact’s principles statement

  • all men are created equal
  • they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights
  • among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness
  • to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men
  • whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People—it is their duty—to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government

then we cannot accept either of these sets of behaviors.  Government can help, but it’s Facebook’s responsibility (to take the particular case) to build in capability to use their products safely, and it’s our—us individual users’—responsibility to use Facebook’s products safely and securely.  Government can certainly help in this—as a follow-up to corporate efforts and our own, or as a last resort.  However, government has no obligation, can have no obligation, under our social compact to come in a priori to protect us from ourselves.  Or to regulate their product or our use of it.

If the birth place of John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, early articulators of the concepts of rights inherent in the existence of individuals and of those rights’ associated individual responsibilities, at all accepts those principles, then Europe cannot continue its efforts to bail out failure and thereby relieve those who’ve failed of their responsibility for the results of their actions.

To relieve investors—or consumers—of our responsibility for our own decisions and shift that responsibility onto government is to destroy all sense of our personal responsibility.  Greece is exactly the result we get when government takes responsibility away from its citizens.  Greece is what we get when there is no (short term—i.e., within a single generation) result accruing to the individual for his own poor decision—indeed, when poor decisions are not even possible because government will fill in any shortfall from that decision.

Bobby Seale shouted “Power to the People!”  But he was a piker.  Thomas Paine had been shouting “Power to the People!  Responsibility to the People!” 200 years prior.  Mr. Zuckerberg seems to have forgotten that whole second half of our civic duty (Europe may never have learned it).  The Reverend Jesse Jackson used to challenge people to chant, “I am somebody!”  Apparently, today’s chant is “Government, make me somebody!”

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