Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Responsibility - what does the cold snap tell us?

As the big freeze continues with no sign of a big thaw in sight I've been thinking about the coverage of salt shortages and related issues by the media and the response to the snow and ice by the public.

Helped by a piece by Iain Dale on clearing your own drive way I think that the past decade of Government intervention in everything has led to a lack of responsibility by society, and that our response to a bit of snow and ice is a clear manifestation of this.

All that we have heard is people complaining that the government, whether on a local or national level haven't done enough to clear the roads, the pavements and help us to get around. However where in all of this is our own personal responsibility? How many people have been willing to clear snow from the pavement outside their own house, or lay salt and grit in their own areas? How many have fitted their cars with winter tires or even snow chains? Pretty much no one, instead everyone has complained about how the council haven't done it and how it's not their responsibility to do it themselves.

David Cameron has been putting personal responsibility at the heart of his recent speeches and it is at the heart of modern conservatism. The challenge is how the state cancreate  an environment where  personal responsibility is encouraged but protection for the vulnerable included. However the biggest challenge is that of changing people's minds it's a difficult sell after 12 years of either directly or indirectly being told otherwise.

I think part of the reason is an issue with a tax and spend culture. The more you tax people whether it be national income taxes or local council tax, and the more you tell people you are doing it to provide them with more services the more they expect you to do everything. So the viscious circle begins, people then expect more and you must then tax more to provide more and so on and so forth until we reach the position we are in today.

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