All Commentary
Sunday, November 1, 1964

Authority Minus Responsibility

Mr. Raley is a free-lance author, speaker, philosopher from Gadsden, Alabama.

The ravaging action of a mob is by no means humorous, but the so-called big city race riots have produced some funny arguments. Among the reasons advanced as an excuse for the riots are the heat and humidity, boring reruns on TV, unemployment, poor hous­ing, illiteracy, lack of understand­ing by society, lack of opportunity, and lack of recreation. No one seems to have written or spoken a word to the end that any indi­vidual involved was responsible for his or her action.

Municipal, state, and Federal governments stand accused of fail­ure to provide their wards with acceptable houses, education, and employment. We are told over and over again that the taxpayers owe these people better housing, but scarcely anyone seems willing to suggest that any rioter who is un­happy with his present abode should make an effort to build himself a better one.

We are told that more tax col­lections absolutely must be allo­cated to educate the underprivi­leged mobs, but hardly a voice cries out for more individual application to study and less atten­tion to the ravishment of teachers as a possible remedy for illiteracy. Even the most severe critics of mob rule rarely suggest that there are opportunities in America other than an increase in welfare.

The riots have been, and will be, termed racial, to protect the illu­sion that America’s list toward so­cialism is beyond reproach; but the root of this matter is more psychic than racial. True, most of the rioters, to date, have been non­whites because the larger concen­trations of state wards are found among those groups in the big cities. These are the people who have been most successfully indoc­trinated with the theory that everyone has an inherent right to the fruits of any individual’s labor. From the cradle, in most cases, they have seen their govern­ment take from the producers and savers and give to the more so­phisticated bums. They have been taught to use their authority as citizens to vote themselves a raise—vote, at every election, for the candidate who promises the larg­est increase in “benefits.”

Not Surprising

With these facts before us, no one should be surprised when this breed—spawned by the “some­thing for nothing” theory rather than race—decides to take what they want and destroy personal property for kicks. Having never been obliged to earn the price of food or starve, provide shelter or freeze, they have no concept of the labor of love that begets pri­vate property and no sense or knowledge of individual responsi­bility.

Since the early 1930′s, when the United States government ignored the limits of its vested authority and accepted responsibility for the health and personal welfare of any citizen willing to become a ward of the state, this theory of irre­sponsible citizenship has grown. The theory holds that industrious, ambitious, responsible individuals should be penalized and that lazy, irresponsible bums must be sub­sidized.

The “something for nothing”—authority without responsibility—theory has been with us from the beginning, of course, but it made little progress until enforced by the Federal government. Since that time, the theory has been ac­cepted by vast numbers in all walks of life.

“If the student fails to learn, the teacher has failed to teach,” is a popular argument today. In reality, very few teachers are en­dowed with that certain “thing” that renders their teaching irre­sistible. As in all professions, the vast majority are only earning a living by doing a job. But notice the implication—the thinking be­hind this phrase. Responsibility is laid on the teacher, without re­course. The child supposedly has the authority to demand an educa­tion, but no responsibility to com­plete an assignment given by a teacher.

The courts have ruled that a prospective employee may not be refused employment for failure to pass an established aptitude test; one applicant may have had less opportunity to learn than other ap­plicants and, since it might not be his fault that he was unable to do the job, he must be hired anyway.

Traditionally, in American in­dustry, men have advanced to better paying, more responsible positions by learning the trade through close observation and ap­plication. In recent years the unions have maintained, and ar­biters often concur, that an em­ployee must be advanced when he acquires sufficient seniority, and given every opportunity to master the “job” later. In other words, there is no employee responsibility to learn; the employer must teach!

These are only a few of many examples that could be advanced in defense of the proposition that our so-called race riots are, in reality, no more than the natural results of predominant thinking in America today. Reduced to the simplest form possible, my thesis is that (A-R) T = C. Authority minus Responsibility, in Time, must equal Chaos. The time factor may vary slightly from race to race, but the end result is as cer­tain as death.



The Better Way

The more competent businessmen we have the less need for charitable institutions. Without any desire to detract one bit from the generous and noble spirit that prompts rich men to give liberally of their time and money to the promotion of cultural pursuits, I still think they are more useful citizens when they are making money than when they are giving it away.

WILLIAM FEATHER The William Feather Magazine, September, 1964 

  • Mr. Raley is a free-lance author, speaker, philosopher from Gadsden, Alabama.