No-Fault Society

Posted: February 21, 2012 in Conservatism, Economics

It began with no-fault insurance. Two cars collide. It’s an accident. It was nobody’s fault. That’s why they call it an “accident.” My insurance company covers the cost of my car repair. Yours covers you.

Then came no-fault divorce. Two people just drifted apart. No need for the messy identification of a guilty party here. The decision was mutual. “We just weren’t right for each other.” The two split. Nobody is to blame. Blame is so ugly!

But if I am the guy waiting for the light to turn green and get rear-ended by a distracted driver playing “Words with Friends,” I am going to feel that I don’t share the responsibility for the accident. It is Somebody’s fault. Namely, the dumb guy with the smart phone. If I am the wife whose husband was caught cheating with the office bimbo, I am not going to feel I share in the responsibility for the marriage falling apart. It is Somebody’s fault. The husband who could not keep his marital vows is the culprit.

This no-fault attitude is permeating our society. It is killing us. We can no longer claim anything is really wrong. We must understand the situation. It is killing us morally, economically and intellectually.

A young girl needs an abortion because she had an accident. Accident? Abortion is our “no-fault” answer for dispatching such accidents. The accident is not that she allowed herself to be seduced by her lover. It is that she failed to use a contraceptive. Of course we can’t expect kids with raging hormones to actually repress them. Why, that would be repressive.

A man “finds himself” unemployed. To be fair, this is often not his fault. (It often is.) So he goes on Unemployment. He gets so much money for not working. We have constructed this safety net to help families when such a crisis occurs as the loss of a job. It was not intended to last forever. Now we extend unemployment benefits, it seems, indefinitely. Most self-respecting people will try to get back into the work force as quickly as they are able. Unfortunately, our no-fault society has created a class of people who have no such self-respect. And, honestly, many will operate on the very reasonable economic equation that unless they find a job making substantially more than they receive in unemployment benefits, it makes little sense to flip hamburgers or houses. Why take that job in the factory with the cross boss, long hours and hard work when you can do nothing and get paid for it? It is interesting to note that once unemployment benefits run out, people find jobs much faster than when they could still receive them. I wonder if there is any connection there. As Alan Reynolds noted (http://tinyurl.com/yjlvvx5), “When the government pays people 50 to 60 percent of their previous wage to stay home for a year or more, many of them do just that.”

The upshot of all this non-judgmental, no-fault attitude and the concomitant public policy, where real crime goes unpunished, where sloth is often rewarded while industry is punished, where immorality is at least as acceptable as morality, where drug-abusing celebrities in Hollywood and sports are lauded, we all pay. When the perpetrator is vindicated, the victim pays. When the abused wife must share custody of her children with the abuser, she pays the price. When millions live off the government dole, we all pay. We pay, not only in higher costs of government in the form of higher taxes, we pay in the overall collapse of what used to be known as the “social contract.” When crime goes unpunished, we get more crime. When immorality is winked at, it flourishes. When sloth is rewarded, we have more people relying on government hand-outs. When those who work hard and play by the rules are punished with higher taxes, then told they are not “paying their fair share”, we will find fewer such people–people who have been made to feel like saps in a society that has tilted against them.

Atlas will soon shrug.

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