In practice, many adults abdicate responsibility. To a greater or lesser degree, many possibly never even realise they could or should be responsible for their actions.
Throughout this series on fixing the economy I hold the government responsible for decisions that will affect us all. Their decisions will affect whether our taxes rise or fall, whether as a country we pay off our debt or continue hemorrhaging money in interest payments. But fixing the economy will be impossible if we as adults in society are unable to accept responsibility for our actions.
[Movie spoilers will follow!]
This week I finally watched the movie: Lucy (A). Ever since I saw the trailer I've been looking forward to it as it seemed to echo one of my all time favourite movies: Limitless (B). A film that also proposes that we as humans are capable of far more than we realise, if only we could untap all our brains are capable of.
Visually, Lucy as a film is extremely beautiful. Mixing views of cell division with galaxy formation and animals hunting each other alongside a visual representation of what it might look like if someone could manipulate matter and energy.
Growing up is hard to do. As Lucy states, she can remember the feeling of her bones growing: the pain it caused. But physical pain is not the only cost of growing up.
I made a decision to take on a new career in 2004. By 2008 I was frustrated with the slow progress I was making. I'd bought into the idea that if I worked for a company that my skills and experience would be recognised and rewarded and that promotion was the logical conclusion.
My skills and experience were rewarded but not at the pace I wanted. I had a difficult discussion with my then boss where I was faced with the fact that if I wanted to progress my career, I had to make it happen. No-one was going to do it for me.
It took me some months to fully come to terms with the reality, but once I did, I was liberated. If I am not dependent on someone else to improve my life, if I am responsible for improving my life - then I can act to improve my life.
And I did.
That and similar experiences inspired me to set a series of goals, to challenge myself to achieve, to improve, to better myself.
My worldview has changed over the last decade. I used to believe that government existed to provide for people. That a safety net existed including benefits, the NHS and ultimately a government backed pension.
I believed this in spite of of early experiences which challenged this worldview: the theft of my work pension when I was a teenager; discussions around saving for a pension which opened my eyes to the costs and the reality I may never be able to afford a personal pension.
I will take what is offered to me. As a family we benefit from Child Benefit. We used to receive Tax Credits. If someone is offering me something that will benefit us, I'll consider it. But I no longer think such support is guaranteed.
Worldview is vital when talking about responsibility. Arguments I've used up till now and ones I'm yet to make all rest on a worldview that we as adults are responsible for our actions. That there will be consequences for our actions and that if we want to avoid those consequences, we need to change our actions before it is too late.
More than this though, my worldview is that I should not seek to depend on the government to support me.
There is a generally accepted view that many of the things we do, or don't do, all contribute to our health. Exercise, eating habits, what we drink, drugs we take... All these things and more contribute to our health or to our ill health.
Obesity, liver and kidney failure, scurvy... These and many other problems that eat up NHS spending are all preventable. It is possible that many health problems could be prevented - saving us billions - if only we all took responsibility more seriously.
This morning the BBC reported on a University of Cambridge study where 'researchers said about 676,000 deaths each year were down to inactivity, compared with 337,000 from carrying too much weight.' (C) The recommendation? That we all need at least '20 minutes of brisk walking a day.' Is that too much responsibility for each of us to bear?
We cannot all afford to set aside the hundreds of pounds a month that would be required to save for a healthy retirement fund but many of us are not saving anything, despite having disposable income.
Saving just £10 a week from the ages of 20 to 60 can leave you with a £40,000 retirement fund. (assuming you can get a 3% return) If you were to increase the weekly amount saved by one pound each year you more than double your saving to £100,000!
If every taxpayer in the UK was to save in this way we would have a combined pension pot of over £3 Trillion... (D) Compare that to our pensions black hole (E) or combined National (F) and Personal Debt (G) of just under £3 Trillion...
Of course, many tax payers have no disposable income which is why we need full employment (H) and a Living Wage. (I) It's also worth noting that inflation is likely to reduce the value of any retirement fund you manage to save...
Quite early on in her personal evolution, Lucy realises she doesn't know what to do with her increasing knowledge. A challenge is set, will she accept responsibility for the gift she has been given?
Each of us has a similar challenge. Our circumstances do not need to define us. Limitations we face can be overcome. Will we have or will we be?
By accepting responsibility for our health, for our savings, for our lives, we could radically transform our economy and our lives.
Do post your own crazy ideas or feedback on mine in the comments below and sign up to my mailing list below to be notified of future posts.
Why should my crazy ideas have any relevance to the economy? I'm the author of The Great Scottish Land Grab, a novel that imagines a fairer future for Scotland where the poor are empowered to change their destiny. I'm director of my own limited company: Goal 31 Ltd and I've over seven years experience working for government and financial organisations. Also, just like you, I'm a taxpayer and for some crazy reason I think that entitles us to have an opinion and for that opinion to be acted on by the government.
As I wrote at the start, I am making my 100 crazy ideas freely available. It seems unjust to propose ideas to fix the economy and then prevent people from freely reading those ideas. 100 Crazy Ideas to Fix the Economy will be published once the craziness is complete.
I can be found on Twitter: @my100goals or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/my100goals. There's a short bio here.
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(A; IMDB; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2872732/?ref_=nv_sr_1)
(B; IMDB; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1219289/?ref_=nv_sr_1)
(C; BBC; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-30812439)
(D; GOV.UK; https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/number-of-individual-income-taxpayers-by-marginal-rate-gender-and-age)
(E; This Is Money; http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/pensions/article-2055579/Government-officials-mull-plans-plug-1-3trillion-public-pensions-black-hole-new-fund.html)
(F; My 100 Goals; http://my100goals.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/crazy-idea-1-be-honest-about-amount-of.html)
(G; My 100 Goals; http://my100goals.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/crazy-idea-28-cut-up-your-credit-cards.html)
(H; My 100 Goals; http://my100goals.blogspot.com/2014/12/crazy-idea-16-create-full-employment.html)
(I; My 100 Goals; http://my100goals.blogspot.com/2014/12/crazy-idea-17-legislate-to-bring-about.html)