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Katie van Schaijik

Personal responsibility or paternalism?

Apr. 10, 2010, at 11:02am

A Wall Street Journal article today delves into Mitt Romney’s campaign trail dilemma. On the one hand he stands with those calling for the repeal of Obamacare, and on the other he wants to defend the similar law that was a defining achievement of his term as governor of Massachusetts.

Mr. Romney also took pains to defend another element common to both plans—the mandate requiring nearly all people to buy coverage—that many conservative activists consider one of the most objectionable elements of the federal law. But he did so by adopting a more GOP-friendly vocabulary, declaring it a matter of “personal responsibility” for all people to buy into insurance pools so that “free riders” without insurance can’t stick taxpayers with their hospital bills.

“We are a party and a movement of personal responsibility,” he said at a book signing in Manchester. He invoked the same idea at the college, calling it a “conservative bedrock principle.”

I can think of only two possible explanations for this “vocabulary adoption”.

1. He has no idea what personal responsibility means.
2. He is being dishonest and manipulative.

A person is no more rendered responsible by government mandates than he is rendered generous by having his property seized.


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