We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
On the collective scale, choice is nearly irrelevant. Only people with power have choices. The idea that the man waiting in the alley with a knife has a choice is a heresy because he is not a man with a knife, he is a collection of social statistics which assign him an automatic level of responsibility based on his race, gender, socioeconomic status and all the other variables. Whether or not he stabs someone with a knife, is not up to him, it's up to how society treats him.
Similarly financial troubles are not personal, they are social. Whether you can pay your bills has nothing to do with you, but with your race and class. If you succeed when the statistics say that you should fail, then you are an outlier. A rogue exception that only goes to prove the rule. Likewise if you fail when the statistics say that you should succeed. Individual actions can never disprove the collective snapshot of how society is.
If every person is wired into society like a giant bank of servers, then every individual malfunction is actually a social malfunction. If a man kills, then it's because his connection with society was bad. To understand why it was bad, the left examines the nature of the connection. If it was a privileged connection, then he was warped by his excessive access to the innate racism, sexism, classism and all the other bad "isms" of the society. If it was an underprivileged connection, then he was warped by his lack of access to the benefits that society had to offer him and being marginalized, he went off the reservation.
Blame-shifting is always fun, isn't it? Maggie's has been hot on this topic recently. "It's the hippies' fault." It's Bush's fault." It's my genes' fault." "It's my husband's fault." "It's society's fault." "It's my parents' fault." "It's my boss' fault."
But if things go well, it's to my credit, right?
While people make their decisions, plans, and choices for all sorts of reasons, it is a necessary premise in a free society that an individual is responsible for every one of his actions. In some cases, perhaps, a necessary fiction.
The bar mitzvah (a modern innovation, as I just learned) has it: "Today I am a man" and thus responsible for all of my actions.
The delicious pleasures of blame-shifting have never been permitted in the Bliss household.
I enjoyed listening to Governor Christie's press conference today. He repeatedly stressed the fact that his decision not to run for president was his own, no matter how the reporters tried to press him for explanations about how other people or events might account for it. He strikes me as a real "buck stops here" kind of guy. He understands that leadership means knowing how to make decisions, and know that they're your own.