Personal responsibility

We are so lucky at the moment, that there are so many things to write about. Unfortunately Comrade Drury nicks all the banker bashing, politician abuse and other fun stuff, so I am left with the rest. He hasn’t gotten into the people on Question Time yet, but I am sure he will get there. There is a reason he gets so many opportunities and that is the lack of personal responsibility today.

Since about the 70s we have developed a world with lots of rules and regulations to protect us all, which is great. Where would we be without say seatbelts in cars or warnings on knives which say ‘careful, sharp, if handled incorrectly you may cut yourself’? Obviously the seatbelts are a great benefit and equally I am not so sure of the warning labels on knives. My concern is that all this has removed our taking personal responsibility and this may be having some unintended consequences.

The first of the unintended consequences is our blame culture. If something happens in the world we do not like, we immediately look to blame someone else. In 1992 a lady was awarded $2.9 million from McDonalds when she spilled hot coffee in her lap, whilst sitting in the passenger seat of her grandson’s car.

Now this case may be absurd but is it any more absurd than having parliamentary questions or investigations or whatever they spend our hard earned tax pounds on every time something happens? I am not going to list any examples, as we all have our pet ones and I could offend some people, but we must be spending hundreds of millions in investigations to ensure we find someone or something to blame.

A second unintended consequence is that it leads us to ignore our corporate or public service responsibilities. Our MPs are convinced they have some rights – the rights to have a second home if they have to commute over an hour, the right to get £60,000 when they lose their seat in parliament – and they appear to forget they have responsibilities first and foremost. The responsibility to set a good example, to act responsibly and not to stretch some simple guidelines as far as they possibly can.

Our bankers, once a respected bread (l left banking in 1985 and personally I do not believe it has ever been the same) have the right to take massive amounts of money off us for gambling. This is a right they feel they have and, just like the MPs, even after all the public outcry, they are still very clear: they have the right to be rewarded for the risks they take with your money.

In Enterprise Britain it works slightly differently. Yes I am aware of people taking large sums of money out of their companies and yes some companies fail and we find in a few cases the entrepreneur is not quite as poor as his or her company has become. But in general, Enterprise Britain has to work silly hours and has to bear the consequences of success or failure personally. No fee of £60,000 as a reward for failure plus a pension.

We need to return to taking personal responsibility for our actions and that of our companies or government agencies. We need to recognise that success brings responsibilities, as well as rewards.

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