I want to see a "Personal Responsibility" constitutional amendment

Saturday, 6 December 2008 09:42 by The Lunatic


All my life, I've seen these crazy news reports about people suing someone else, often times getting huge sums of money, for something that was partially - or mostly - their own fault.  We all cringe when we hear these stories, but it's a real issue that goes deep into our pockets. Our whole society has a warped mentality that someone else should be responsible for ... your own bad decisions, your health problems, your physical handicap, your depression, your failed investments, your smoking/drug habit, or the fact that your kid can't swim yet she snuck down and found an open door and decided to try a few laps in the hotel pool at midnight (yes, the hotel had to pay).

That "someone else" usually is your employer, your government, your doctor, your neighbor, or the store that sold you the gun which your wife used to shoot your brother (yes, the store owner had to pay).

The cost to society for all this overhead is astonishing.  It's disgusting. I'm not talking just about the money that people win in ludicrous lawsuits, it's the cost of writing all the laws that try to keep it from happening again, enforcing all the new laws, court costs, costs to run our overcrowded jails, increased insurance premiums for everyone, higher taxes, and higher prices for just about everything we buy.

It also limits the freedoms of everyone else.  How many times have you been told: "you can't do that here, last year we were sued by someone who did that and they hurt themselves."

Here's the latest outrage: There was an article in yesterday's news outlining a new law in Canada (which, the article stated, is being considered in the U.S. as well) that says a that a disabled person who is not able to fly alone can get a free ticket for an assistant. Presumably, this applies even if the "disability" is obesity, caused by the passenger's own inability to stay away from quarter pounders with cheese at McDonalds!  In any case, no matter what the disability is, why is it the AIRLINE'S responsibility to provide a free companion ticket?

This is just ripe for abuse! Don't get me wrong, I am truly sympathetic to those with disabilities - but if this law comes to the U.S. you will immediately get every family with an ADHD kid saying "Whoopee, let's go to Disneyland - Parents fly free!"

Currently, some U.S. airlines charge people for two seats if a passenger is too obese to fit into one seat. I think that's fair - if you use the resources for two people, that's what you should pay. Even if the "free companion ticket" law doesn't come to pass, I'm sure that someone will eventually object to the policy of charging for two seats (if it hasn't already happened) ... there will be a lawsuit, hundreds of thousands of dollars of court costs will be spent on both sides, this one lucky passenger will hit the jackpot and get a whopping settlement, more money will be spent writing and enforcing new laws, the airlines will be forced to provide double-wide seats, and ticket prices will go up for everyone else.

Healthcare is an area where we have an outstanding array of problems.  Doctors and hospitals are so afraid of getting sued, that our society has forced the healthcare industry to pile on every possible safeguard. Billions and billions and billions of dollars are being spent (wasted, in my opinion) on needless overhead, insurance premiums, legal fees.  And then we wonder why healthcare is so expensive.

Admittedly, there is often a fine line between what is your own fault and what is someone else's. I see the need for consumer protection laws, but they've really gotten out of hand - making it very expensive for companies to do business, which stifles the economy.  I really think we need to draw a line in the sand - make some definitions of what parts of your life are your own responsibility, which you can't blame someone else for. If YOU buy a product and YOU use it inappropriately, don't blame someone else if, for example, there wasn't a warning on your lawnmower saying "don't pick up your lawnmower and use it to trim hedges" (yes, this warning was really on a lawnmower).

This is pervasive to our whole society.  And our response, so far, has been a form of socialism at its worst - our court system has supported the notion that "everyone else" should pay. And yes, fixing it would take a major re-write of our entire legal system - possibly even an amendment to the constitution.  Seriously!  Would you support a legal system that promotes "Personal Responsibility", which says that you own your own life and you are responsible for it? I know I would!

Or is this just too "Libertarian" for our democratic sensibilities? 


Categories:   Social Issues
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Comments (13) -

December 7. 2008 04:26

Amen.... but it won't happen, our culture has fallen prey to the "blame someone else" syndrome.
personal responsibility? Where is that these days?
Look at this whole MEW situation, why was I so "dumb" to pt down a big percentage on my house and think about actually paying it off?
I am now trying to find a way to extract money and walk away, like the thousands of others that have done this.
This is a sad state of affairs to me and why, in part, that this recession will last longer than any of the Obama optimists think it will.
Literally every person I have spoken with has told me that we have more layoffs coming, my wife works at Expo and they have gone to a 38 hour work week, the national avg now is 33 hours. If you add the partially employed to the un-employed you get a better picture of the mess we are in and, I am sorry to say, that President Obama can only do so much.
I am telling my son to go into banking or automotive or medicine as these industries are protected, not high-tech.

Mike Galli

December 7. 2008 06:45

My friend Randy Cassingham (author of the e-newsletter about odd news stories and stupid peolple called This Is True) put out a book called the True Stella Awards about the state of law suits in America.  He also has an occasional newsletter about it - http://www.stellaawards.com/ - that is full of interesting examples of what you're talking about.  You should check it (and him) out.  If you write him, drop my name... Smile


Geoff Hoff

December 8. 2008 02:28

You are singing my song! I believe you are the sanest lunatic around. Let me know if you decide to run for office, I'll vote for you!

Lesbian Baby

November 26. 2009 15:45

The both of us really enjoyed your article. It appears that you have put a good amount of effort into your article and we need more of these on the web these days. I don't have much to say in retort, I only wanted to add this comment to reply excellent job.

Oklahoma City Marriage Records

December 26. 2011 05:09

The question of fault becomes very difficult to define. And even when people think they have clearly defined it it often becomes difficult to decide what to do about it. Suppose a person who is very fat goes to a doctor's office. Suppose the Dr. has no armless chairs and the person cannot fit into the armed chairs that are there. Should the doctor provide armless chairs or should the Fed patient be made to sit in pain or else go to another physician? Suppose a person who cannot walk goes to the hospital. If they were paralyzed from the waist down because they were hit by a drunk driver should they be allowed to use the wheel chairs for free. If they were paralyzed because they were driving drunk and therefore it is their fault should they be charged more for the use of wheelchairs or perhaps completely denied the use of the hospital wheelchairs.

How about a veteran? If a veteran is injured during combat should they be allowed to get free medical care? Suppose the veteran is injured because they got drunk and fell down a flight of stairs? Certainly that is their own fault. Should they be made to pay for their medical care?

Russell Williams

December 26. 2011 13:32

While I agree with most of what you write I do disagree with your liberal use of obesity as something that everyone has total control over.  "Presumably, this applies even if the "disability" is obesity, caused by the passenger's own inability to stay away from quarter pounders with cheese at McDonalds!"  I really take exception to this childish, short-sighted, immature comment.  While I agree there are way too many people whose weight problem is self-induced, there are numerous people who have legitimate health issues that result in a lot of weight gain.  These people don't dine every day at fast food establishments as you like to imply.  

Yes our society's answer to everything is to sue someone usually just for financial gain but not every lawsuit is about a nonsensical incident.

And by the way, I'm 5'5" 140 pounds so I'm not taking exception to your stupid, idiotic remark because it "hit too close to home".


December 27. 2011 04:01

I did not discuss the issue of why various people are fat. I felt it might degenerate into a side argument while ignoring the main point I was driving at. I have stated my feelings about  size discrimination in greater detail in the writings I've included below. PS when Jefferson wrote it he used the word unalienable instead of inalienable.

Declaration of Fat Independence.

JULY 4th 1776, Philadelphia. "We hold these truths to be self
evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their
Creator with certain unalienable Rights and that among these are
Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

With these brave words men set out to make a new country and to
establish a new social order:  A social order that eventually had
as it's goal equality of opportunity for all citizens. Eleven
years after the American Declaration of Independence was sighed
the Constitution was written and soon after the Bill of Rights
was added. At first only white, landholding, Christian, men were
fully protected by the nation's legal system as they strove for
life, liberty, and to be all that they could be; but, very
slowly, the Constitution, Congress, and the courts began to
protect the rights of other groups. Slavery was ended and black
men were theoretically allowed to vote. Later women, Indians,
and finally southern blacks  were given the actual right to vote.

But people came to realize that there was more to full freedom of
opportunity then voting and the Bill of Rights. It became obvious
that true freedom consists of more then allowing people to
complain that their children are uneducated,  starving, sick, and
discriminated against. For a child to have life and to have a
full rewarding one, to have the liberty of many life choices, and
for that child to be free in it's adult life to pursue happiness;
the child must be properly housed, fed, educated, and, in
adulthood, given employment opportunities solely on the basis of
competency factors.

It has taken 200 years, but now the three ideals set forth in
revolution that hot July 4th in Philadelphia are pursued by our
society for all of its citizens.  We now believe that all people
have the right to life, even if the medical treatment is more
then they can afford. Our society believes that all people have
the right to liberty, and so buildings and public accommodations
are being made accessible to the handicapped. Our society knows
that it is stronger if all its citizens are educated and free to
strive for excellence. Thus, there is universal compulsory public
education and it has become illegal to discriminate against
various social groups on any basis other then competency.  Now,
ideally, no citizen need hang their head in shame because they
are not white, male, Protestant, landowners. Our society tells
all its citizens that regardless of their circumstances of birth
or their genetic differences they can call on the help of the
Federal Government when anyone attempts to deprive them of their
revolutionary and constitutional right to life, liberty and
pursuit of happiness. Americans are proud of this elimination of
second class citizen ship.

Yet second class citizenship still exists.  We the fat are still
denied the rights proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence
and which have slowly been extended by the Constitution,
Congress, and the Courts to other groups.

We the fat are denied our right to life, and thousands of our
lives have been  sacrificed needlessly on the American altar of
thinness. Many doctors still demand that we be thin before they
extend to us our unalienable right to the protection of the
greatest medical system in the world.

We the fat are denied our right to liberty. We are considered
proper objects for ridicule as we travel on public
accommodations. Those on crutches, in casts, and in wheel chairs
are not resented because they take up extra space in public. We
are. A handicapped person facing a turnstile they can not
negotiate does not feel ashamed. The paraplegic does not hang
their head and go quietly away rather then ask for a way through.
We the fat do. We alone feel guilty about asserting our
unalienable right to the liberty of freedom of public movement.

We the fat are denied our unalienable right to the pursuit of
happiness. We are not free to be all that we can be. We fat
citizens can be discriminated against on the basis of factors
other then competency. The blind are not told that their
variation from the physical average renders them morally
inferior. The paraplegics are not belittled for their failure to
walk. Blacks are not refused employment because insurance tables
suggest reduced life expectancy, yet all these things happen to
us because we do not meet the socially established standard
of body fat.

Now it is time for the revolution of the American fat. Now it is
time for our declaration of independence. Let the world know that
we the fat have the right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness,
and that we will challenge all those who would deny us the rights
that have been extended to other social groups.

The next time someone, by word or deed, tries to deny you life
giving and enriching medical treatment, or the right to travel
about this land of ours, or the education or jobs that you are
competent to undertake and which you feel will help you achieve
happiness, do not hang your head in shame. Confront those who
deny your humanity and demand your unalienable human rights.

                    Russell F Williams
                    June 1986

Russell Williams

December 27. 2011 07:19

Russell, I work with a guy that was in the navy and broke his ankle while playing his sons skateboard. He is now and has been for the last 20 years or so been getting $800 a month of taxpayer money for a "Service Connected Disability".


December 27. 2011 22:06

Thanks for the comments, Russell and Jeri. I have written a few articles specifically about the obesity issue in America, and it's certainly not something I take lightly. In addition, I was the Executive Producer of the independant movie "Muffin Man", which I'm sure would offend you horribly. This is a serious issue, and very costly to our society - in fact, it's one of the many reasons why medical care is so expensive for everyone. There are no easy answers.

The Lunatic

December 29. 2011 06:35

I have never met a person who was "happy" about being overweight. In fact I have met and worked with (I teach tennis, part time) people who have become much happier as they lost weight.

If you wish to vent your anger then I would suggest starting with our wonderful government as what they have done to our food is borderline criminal. At the very least it is inhumane. As I learned more about this, the more upset I became with the very government that is trying to preserve your rights.

David is right on to characterize obesity as a problem and if you do not see that then I would say that you are living in a dream world, good luck with that.
Another "lunatic"


December 29. 2011 16:56

The declaration is not about whether or not fat people are happy the declarations about to what extent should fat people be allowed to participate in American society. Should fat people be allowed to sit down in doctors offices? Should fat people in wheelchairs or thin people in wheelchairs or veterans in wheelchairs be allowed to enter public facilities? Should fat people, or people in wheelchairs, or people with deformities, be allowed to go about it in public without being ridiculed? I have never taken a poll of paraplegics and quadriplegics to find out whether or not they are happy with their situation, nor have I ever taken a poll to find out whether or not they believe that they should be seen in public and to travel about in public without ridicule.

I did once a public meeting about 15 years ago pose the following question to the speaker, "You have talked about the expense to our society of the medical problems of fat people. I am fat, suppose in the next five years I get sick, wind up in a nursing home, and then die before the five-years are up. Now suppose I get thin and live for another 40 years and then get sick, wind up in a nursing home, and then die. In both instances the deaths will be attended by certain expenses. But here's the difference. If I live to be 95, between pension and Social Security I will collect about $1 million. Why is it cheaper for me to live to age 95 and collect the million dollars and then die then it would be for me to die before I have ever collected a cent of pension or Social Security."

The speaker kind of fumbled around and didn't give me any clear answer.

Russell Williams

June 1. 2012 13:17

How do you feel about fluoridation of our water supply?  Just wondering...

WADR, this is so much blather.  Show me the stats demonstrating the costs we feel "deep in our pockets," or the "billions and billions" added to our health care bill. I could be wrong but you sound like one of the tort reform folks.

Socialism? Not in my dictionary, this.

Oh, and a constitutional amendment...??!!  Get serious.  How many "billions and billions" would that cost?  And the appeals.  And the challenges.  Ad infinitum.

Lunatic?  I don't know.  Half-baked?  Yep.

Tom Welsh

June 2. 2012 00:51

Tom - yes, I am a HUGE proponent of tort reform, especially in the area of healthcare. See my other article on healthcare for more on this subject: www.halfbakedlunatic.com/.../...lthcare-Issue.aspx

The Lunatic

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