I’d like to talk about personal responsibility, which can cover anything I have ever talked about in this blog! Personal responsibility relates to how I take care of pigs and how I treat the people I work with. It includes what I choose to eat, as well as my actions and behaviors.

Let’s bring it back to what I love to do for a living and that’s taking care of pigs. Rather than doing chores daily as I have for more than 50 years, my new job has me taking care of pigs by taking care of the facilities where pigs are raised.

“We care every day” is the theme in our livestock vote_button_largeoperation. I take pride and ownership in what I do; doing anything less wouldn’t be right. Does this mean I get everything done perfectly and on time? Of course not! I admit that I try to do too much. I see such a need to volunteer that I stretch myself much too thin. I’ve given up many jobs I am still passionate about: volunteering with hospice, speaking for the National Pork Board and grilling pork burgers in Franklin County. These volunteer opportunities were all very important, but trying to do all at a high level was taking a toll.

Why do some people see a need to help others while others look for ways to help only themselves? I believe the American culture is changing, and personal responsibility is being taken away from us. Government entitlement programs are building a class of citizens that has no sense of responsibility.

Some people have learned they can make a better living off the government than they can by earning a living. This is why I have a problem with the minimum wage and food stamps (SNAP). The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cost almost $80 billion in 2012 – twice the amount it cost just five years prior!

Making Americans dependent on social programs and using taxpayer money to advertise welfare programs won’t lead to government efficiency or to a more productive society. Socially equality reduces the will to work. I can see the point of such government programs like minimum wage for entry-level jobs, whether by a young person or by someone getting back on their feet. When a job turns in to a career, however, a person should be paid what he or she is worth to that business!

How can we teach work ethic and empathy when today’s kids receive ribbons and awards just because they participate? Does giving them an award for “showing up” teach them to try their very best, or does America’s trophy culture teach kids that working hard doesn’t matter because everyone gets treated equally?

Today’s kids must develop critical thinking skills. 4-H and FFA have been fantastic training grounds, and these programs are not only for kids who grow up on farms! Learning the process of setting goals, planning, executing, and finishing a project are lessons that will serve these kids all their lives.

Government regulations have gotten to the point where everything Americans do is regulated. We have so many rules that 37 cents of every dollar we spend pays for those regulations! If Americans would accept personal responsibility to understand what foods are good and which aren’t, would we need all the extra health care regulations and added expenses? If people researched what they’re buying, would we need so much regulation? If parents held kids responsible for their actions, would we have the problems we have in schools?

I read an article Sunday in The Des Moines Register about a lady who is having trouble getting a job due to a felony on her record. She admitted to making some bad decisions in the past that are now keeping her from getting the job she wants. Do you think employers should not hold her personally responsible? She may very well be the best person for the job, but how does the HR department know that? There was even talk that that type of question shouldn’t be on the employment form. Is that really being responsible?

Our founding fathers developed a system of government that would give opportunity to everyone without guaranteeing everyone would be treated equally. The U.S. government was created to be a representative democracy, not a communist government in which all members of that society are treated equally.

Life is not fair, people! Rather than taking everything so personally, Americans must take personal responsibility. Part of accepting responsibility, in my opinion, is exercising your right to vote. Today is Election Tuesday. Remember, whom we elect makes a difference!