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The 'No Responsibility' Generation

by Liz Flaherty

Dont you think its the least bit odd that gas prices have gone through the ceiling but no ones making any more money? It kind of reminds me of the medical field you know, the one where no one can afford to be sick and even if they are, their insurance company decrees just how sick they can be and how much and what kind of medication they can take for their illness. No one makes any money there, either.

So whos responsible? Whose fault is it that the cost of medical care can wreck an entire family with one illness? Whose fault is it that were paying almost two bucks a gallon (as of this writing) for gas? If wages had gone up proportionately to the hike in gas prices, we could afford medical care.

It gets old, doesnt it? It seems every generation earns a name: the Baby Boomers, Generation X, the Tom-Brokaw-coined Greatest Generation, and so on. So now we have the generation of No Responsibility. Only thing is, its not really generational at all.

I was waiting in the 12-items-or-less lane at the grocery store one day after work. Id already spent eight hours on my feet and was having serious thoughts about the couch. The gentleman ahead of me, who was in his seventies, had 19 items (yeah, I counted) and wrote a check. When the lady checking him out reminded him politely that it was the express lane and he might want to watch that in the future, he blew up at her and said hed been waiting all his life and everybody else could wait now. She told him there was no reason to be rude and he said he wasnt being rude, but that she was for suggesting he follow the rules. Apparently, while hes been waiting all his life, he hasnt learned to take responsibility for his own actions.

There is great outcry when kids do some of the same old crap theyve been doing since the days of tipping over outhouses: vandalism. The outcry is louder because the vandalism is much more expensive than it was then, of course, but the principles the same. Its a bunch of young people being destructive. Where are the parents when this is going on, people want to know. What are teachers teaching if these hooligans dont know any better than this? Well, chances are the parents and the teachers did the best they could. To tell the truth and this seems to be a secret those hooligans do know better. They do know right from wrong. That they choose to do wrong is their fault. If you dont believe parents and teachers do their best, just try watching a kid 24 hours a day and see how long you last before you fall asleep and the kid goes out and tears something up even though you told him to finish his homework and go to bed.

Government is a fine example of non-responsibility. When things are going well, both congress and the presidency take the credit, but when things are going badly, each points the finger at the other. I understand that this procedure is necessary during election years, to ensure that we have no idea who did what, but its disgusting.

It is often said nowadays that some criminals are not to blame for their crimes because they had lousy childhoods. Children of movie stars, guests on Ricki Lake, and numerous professional athletes also had lousy childhoods which have enabled them to publish poor-me books, air their dirty laundry on television, and behave badly while being paid millions of dollars. And all without ever taking responsibility for anything.

So what does all this have to do with the price of gas? Not a lot, to tell the truth, except that Id like politics better if once in a while someone said a nonpartisan Good job. And Id have more respect for the people with bad childhoods if they said, So what if I had a bad childhood? I screwed up on my own.

And if whoever is getting all the extra money were spending on gas would just have the guts to say, Hey, were getting rich off you dumb suckers, at least wed know who was being nefarious (I looked it up; it means wicked) and greedy. Wed know who was responsible.

Maybe we could send them our medical bills.

Married for thirty-some years to Duane, her own personal hero, and mother of three and grandmother of six, Liz Flaherty has written a column from her Window Over the Sink off and on for over ten years.  She hopes you enjoy her essays.  You can email her at

©2003 Liz Flaherty for SeniorwomenWeb
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