Inordinate dependence creates weakness

By Kevin Avram
web posted November 8, 1999

An inappropriate dependence on another makes a person weak.

An over-dependence on government has the same effect. It can, and does make specific industries sick, and sometimes a whole society. In extreme cases it will incapacitate people. The 20th century is full of examples, including the merger of East and West Germany. After two generations of communism in East Germany, petty jealousies, reliance on government, and a tendency to complain had become the mindset of most workers. That's why after unification many West German companies were very slow to hire East German workers.

One situation where depending on one another can be healthy is within a wholesome family unit, or marriage. There's a cooperative give and take in a good marriage that leaves both people better off. In a lousy marriage that isn't so. In many lousy marriages there is one giver and one taker, and it can be hell on earth for the one who is constantly doing the giving.

There are parallels between a society that depends too much on government and a dysfunctional marriage where one person does all the giving. For starters, the government has nothing to give. It only takes. Oh, it calls itself a giver. And there isn't anything most cabinet ministers like better than calling a press conference to cock-a-doodle-do about passing out money. But in truth, it's all baloney. The government doesn't have any money, or resources of any other kind, it doesn't first take from the very people it claims to be helping.

In Canada today, there are many senior political people, bureaucrats, and even a good chunk of the mainstream media, who coddle the idea that government is a benefactor. Their presumption is that cabinet ministers and politicians are the political equivalent of social workers with bulging wallets - able to spend their way out of virtually any problem that might arise.

The simple-minded of society love to depend on government. People who think like victims believe they are never responsible for anything. They foolishly believe that society -- or the government -- owes them things. That's what gives them the latitude to hit the coffee shops or local watering holes where they constantly spout their latest theory on exactly who is responsible for all that's wrong with the world.

The more astute and thoughtful among us realize that an inordinate dependence on government is an abdication of personal responsibility. It's an embracing of weakness, an abandonment of self-sufficiency. In the end it means the surrender of self-respect. Men and women who constantly rely on the government or some other person to do things for them, that they rightly should be doing for themselves, will have difficulty respecting themselves. That's because they eventually lose their sense of dignity. They might have a familiar kind of relationship with self-interest or selfishness, but that isn't what self-respect is. Where there is self-reliance there is also self-respect.

So the next time a politician promises to initiate a government program that's supposed to "help" everyone out, maybe we should keep in mind that when it comes to individual human lives and even specific industries, one who depends on another for his well-being always surrenders more than he gets. And the one who depends on another can never have the same level of self-respect as the one who is responsible for himself.

Kevin Avram is a former director of the Prairie Centre/Centre for Prairie Agriculture, Inc. and continues to sit as a member of the Prairie Centre's Advisory Board.

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