One of the hallmarks of people with the conservative/liberatarian bend is the concept of “personal responsibility”. But have you really thought what that truly means? In the concrete as well as the abstract?

Personal Responsibility – Two words: “Personal” meaning ‘of, pertaining to, or coming as from a particular person; individual; private’. “Responsibility” meaning ‘a particular burden of obligation upon one who is responsible’.

Note that responsibility, the assumption of a particular burden of obligation, is a volitional act.  Combined with the personal aspect, an interesting fact arises: You must volitionally assume responsibility. It can not be imposed from outside. It is a function of duty, honor, and a debt that you owe unto yourself.

It means that you, yourself, voluntarily assume the awesome responsibility for taking care of yourself, and of not imposing a burden on others. Because once a burden is imposed, it is no longer personal – it is a collective. Someone else conned you into assuming responsibility for something you are really not responsible for, or someone forced you to abdicate responsibility.

I call this “IMpersonal Responsibility” – the imposition of responsibility from outside one’s self.

Let’s take a look at one of the biggest impositions of impersonal responsibility in the history of the United States: the current heath care bill.

Currently, I am responsible for seeing to the health care needs of myself and my family. I MAY assume responsibility for others as well, should I choose to. It may be grandma and grandpa, or a drunk uncle, or even a friend who needs help. It’s my choice where to extend my personal responsibility. It is not imposed from without, but a duty from within.

Under the proposed bill, this responsibility would be removed from me, forcibly. Further, my health care choices would be limited over time to basically one option. So basically, my personal responsibility to care for myself and my family (and whoever else I chose to help) has been ripped away from me.

But, there’s a fly in the ointment. (Actually, it’s more the size of a small planetary body, but what’s a problem of scale between friends?) Once my responsibility has been removed, it must be relocated somewhere else. Someone else has to decide what is best for the Technomage family. The point is, it’s not me. I know better than almost anyone all the complex and sometimes contradictory needs of my family. I’ve borne the responsibility before, I understand the equations, I know the dynamics, I know the risk tolerances, and I know the people involved. I wonder if the person who has taken the responsibility does?

Well, the obvious answer is “No, they don’t” – they will be dealing with the very up close and personal issues of my family through the lens of statistical populations, a one-size-fits-all plan, NOT designed to give my family the best health care possible, but the best health care that fits the current cost/benefit ratios of the statistical population and the current capacity of the health care system.

Yes, you read that right – the Technomage family will be simply case number 170,223,296. And where there’s large numbers that apply to cases of people, there will be bureaucrats to make things go from difficult to damn near impossible to decypher. (Think about the DMV) Yes, they assumed the responsibility, but now it’s IMpersonal – I am a number, not a person. They will model my life and determine if the fact that I smoke and may be a few pounds overweight should put me further down the line for treatment.

Wait a dang minute here. Something smells ‘fishy’ here. Smoking and Overweight…. haven’t we been told that these are Personal Responsibility issues? In the middle of the vastly IMpersonal system? And since we are in the IMpersonal system now, if we want better care, we have to assume personal responsibility?

I already had assumed personal responsibility for my family’s health care, you take it away without my consent, then you start denying me speedy care because I didn’t take personal responsibility? THEN WHY DO THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Let’s look at that.

As long as daddy Technomage is engaged in providing heath care to the Techno clan, on his own dime, with the insurance company that offered a plan closest to what he needed, it’s the free market at work. I am not under the control of anyone – kid TM can overindulge in peanut butter sandwiches a bit and my insurance doesn’t blink. Of course, I think I would suggest he run a few laps on the track every day or so, or perhaps take up curling — but that’s beside the point. The point is the control loop is very tight. It’s between the Techno family and the insurance company and the docs.

With the currently proposed heath care reform system. I wouldn’t have to pay for the insurance any more (also a lie, my taxes will pay for it), but now… bureaucrats and statistical deviations and derivations determine that kid TM is ‘obese’ and pushes him further back in the treatment queue. Wait just a damn minute here! (I’m really getting tired of writing that, I need a “WAIT A MINUTE” key)

Control over my family’s lives is taken from my responsible hands and given to the government – and then they will penalize if we don’t conform to their standards of BEHAVIOR?

Ladies and gentlemen… that is IMpersonal responsibility at work. It is a control mechanism that will allow – no, not allow: demand – that the government force conformity to an arbitrarily defined ‘norm’ or you risk losing some benefit that was taken from you (by force) to begin with.

IMpersonal responsbility – And you thought the empire in Star Wars was bad.