The unemployed are treated as if they have moral shortcoming: they lack individual responsibility. As a result of constant government propaganda, many agree with this argument. They may also agree that it is the individual responsibility of (‘sepatated’) fathers to contribute to child support. In either case, the advantages to government of such beliefs are rarely considered by the believers, who, by and large, do not read  political philosophy books. Theirs is not to reason why, theirs is but to believe the lie.

Yet, people only believe in the principle of individual responsibility in areas of policy which do not adversly effect them. Thus, whilst being engineered to ‘let off steam’ at ‘welfare scroungers’ or ‘feckless fathers’, a totally different response would arise if they were told by a court that it is their individual responsibility to care for their elderly parent. Like a Roman Emperor who was wary of being poisoned, they only want to eat from the good side of the dish. They do not understand that the principle of individual responsibility will inevitably be extended to them.

A report (www.theglobeandmail.com. September, 26 2011), highlighted the case of ‘a 73-year-old British Columbia woman (who) is suing her adult children for $750 a month in parental support, using a little-known filial duty law dating back to the Depression era to stake her claim before the courts. British Columbia’s rarely used Family Relations Act states: ‘A child is liable to maintain and support a parent having regard to the other responsibilities and liabilities and the reasonable needs of the child. Filial duty laws exist in every province except Alberta; these require adult children who have the means to support dependent parents, those who may be in need because of illness, age or financial adversity’.

In China, a law of 2013 can force children to visit their parents ‘often’ and pay their medical expenses, this to help the country’s overburdened health care system. The law stipulates that children cannot give up their inheritance rights in attempt to evade their duty to take care of their parents. It adds that children should pay a monthly allowance to their parents if they refuse to take care of them.

In Singapore, hundreds of parents have sued their children thanks to the passage in 1995 of the Maintenance of Parents Act, which lets parents over the age of 60 sue their children for monthly allowances or a lump-sum payment.

The situation in America was commented on uder the question: How much do you owe your aging parents? (http://blogs.wsj.com June 25, 2012). ‘It’s not strictly a philosophical or moral question: According to laws in 29 states, adult children can be held financially responsible for their aging parents’ nursing-home care. For other commenters, the issue was far more emotional: What if your parents abused you physically and emotionally … and you have decided to cut them out of your life’, wrote one. ‘It is unbelievable to me to think that someone could come after me for my parents’ bills’.

A recent report (www.tulsaworld.com), stated: ‘A few countries, such as India, Singapore, France and Ukraine, now require adult children to financially support their parents … Resentment hangs in the air, acrid and sharp like the stench from the urine-filled bucket next to Zhang’s bed. This is the epicenter of a family feud that erupted amid accusations of lying, of ungratefulness, of abuse and neglect and broken promises’. This refers to a 94 year old Chinese lady who is cared for by her daughter-in-law. “I never thought about whether my kids would take care of me when I was old,” Zhang says.”I just focused on taking care of them”.

As UK residents live longer, and  private equity trusts have exhausted the profit to be had from private care homes, the option of extending the principle of individual responsibility to include an obligation to care for parents will be attractive to government, who will deliver their case with weasel words: “This government intends to empower children to contribute to the care of their parents by giving them an allowance of £60 per week.” Such rhetoric will also be used to justify similar ‘support’ for parents being ‘empowered’ to care for their disabled children.

Parents may also be ‘incentivised’ (by court order) to meet the needs of their homless children. ‘Suing your own parents (for homlessness) is a little-known aspect of family law and many of the lawyers sitting in the audience at the Ontario Bar Association workshop in downtown Toronto are hearing about it for the first time.The suits are allowed under Section 31 of the Family Law Act, the same part of the law that provides for spouses to get child support. It comes from the general obligation to support your children’ (www.thestar.com. October 15, 2014).

The outraged will cry, “But I do not deserve this”! Yet, my friends, you cheered the principle of individual responsibility when damning others, and have little cause to complain now it is your turn to eat from the poisoned trough of American, ‘neocon’ philosophy.

This was first published by Nurse Blog International.

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One Comment

  1. Excellent article: parties of all persuasion repeat the Neo -Liberal doctrine like parrots, fed by neo-liberal think tanks that’s sole aim is to transfer wealth and power upwards irrespective of the chaos and poverty that causes.

    Neo-Liberalism:

    The main points of neo-liberalism include:

    THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating “free” enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers’ rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To convince us this is good for us, they say “an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone.” It’s like Reagan’s “supply-side” and “trickle-down” economics — but somehow the wealth didn’t trickle down very much.

    CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply — again in the name of reducing government’s role. Of course, they don’t oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.

    DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminsh profits, including protecting the environmentand safety on the job.

    PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.

    ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF “THE PUBLIC GOOD” or “COMMUNITY” and replacing it with “individual responsibility.” Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves — then blaming them, if they fail, as “lazy.”

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