What if people had to be more responsible?

We believe that one of the major dividing lines in our society revolves around the questions: Do people have a right to do dumb things, and should they – or someone else – be responsible for the consequences?

There are many things people decide to do that can be bad for their health, or bad for their futures. They can eat too many greasy burgers, smoke or drink too much alcohol. They can drop out of high school. Or fail to get post-secondary training of some kind. Or become teen moms and dads. You get the picture.

Since we live in a democracy, some citizens have pushed for – over decades and decades – relief, help and subsidies for other citizens who have, in many cases, made poor choices. So we have state or federal health care programs that coddle long-time smokers. Or we offer heavy subsidies to young, unwed mothers that other young women surely notice and exploit.

Some of these things may seem foreign to us in rural Minnesota, but they do exist here. And more seem to be coming. Now, in Madelia, there is state money being spent to get people to stop drinking so many sugary beverages, which are cited as having ties to diabetes, obesity and cancer. This is the new public health craze that seemed to begin in New York City, with its crazy mayor’s desire to limit the size of sodas. Proponents feel encouraged in their efforts with each step the United States takes toward socialized medicine, which apparently makes everyone responsible for everyone else’s choices.

But the question must be asked: Is the “solution” to hound every citizen in some neurotic desire to make everyone “healthy,” or is the fundamental problem the institution of socialized medicine?