The difference between being responsible and taking responsibility

Responsibility1I know someone who is a very responsible person.  She holds a job, pays her bills on time, drives safely, and otherwise lives life according to the standards Americans have come to expect from their middle class.  As I said, she is a very responsible person.

However, it’s no contradiction if I add that she never takes responsibility for anything.  The things I’ve described above are things she does for her own benefit.  Her job gives her money and standing in her community, paying her bills protects her from late fees and the reputation as a dead-beat, driving safely keeps her alive, etc.  However, when anything in her life goes wrong, or when people ask something of her that doesn’t redound to her immediate benefit, she is nowhere to be found.  Well, that’s not quite true.  If you see an accusing finger pointing at you, or someone else, and placing the blame as far away as possible from this gal, I can guarantee you that she’s the one pointing that finger.

Just in case you’re wonder, I haven’t just described someone I know very well, I’ve described a Leftist.  And it’s not just that the gal I know is a Progressive Democrat; it’s that the entire ideology functions in the same way she does.  For 50 years, Democrats have owned Baltimore.  They’ve gotten the perks of government, in the form of power and glory.  They have been responsible people insofar as they sat in the mayor’s chair or held other government positions and they’ve done their job while holding those positions.

But now that something’s gone badly wrong in Baltimore, do they have ownership for those problems despite fifty years of “responsible” behavior?  Of course, not.  They are responsible, but they will never take responsibility for anything.  And the worse things are on their “responsible” watch, the more they frantically seek to cast blame elsewhere, totally disassociating themselves from the fruits of the oh-so-responsible labors.

It’s interesting how often the micro presages the macro.  Look at the pathologies of a Progressive you know, expand it outwards and — boom! — you’ve got the whole party.