Terry Paulson

American capitalism doesn’t make you selfish; socialistic entitlements foster more selfishness. Free enterprise encourages you to earn your reward by serving customers willing to pay; entitlements build the expectation that someone else ought to pay to fulfill your wants and needs. Have we forgotten the importance of fostering the values of personal responsibility and charity instead of encouraging envy and dependence?

The best parents hold you accountable and challenge you to invent your own future. The best teachers care enough to raise the bar and applaud when you reach it. The best bosses expect you to make a difference and give you an opportunity to prove it and give you a reward and new opportunities when you do. The best presidents appeal to our confidence and encourage us to bring our dreams into reality; the worst feed our self-doubts and encourage more to settle for "temporary" government dependence.

The civil, or not so civil, battle for the future of America is clearer than ever in the upcoming election—individual freedom or bigger government, personal responsibility or dependence, the American Dream or mind-dulling entitlements. Do we believe so little in the potential of our fellow Americans that we think they can't make it without more government aid? What happened to neighbors helping neighbors until they're back on their feet? What happened to using character-building struggles to make Americans stronger and reinforce core values?

Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with caring people in my life who cared enough to hold me accountable and challenge me to study hard to find my place in the future, to spend and borrow wisely, to pay off my loans, to save for a rainy day, to give to charities and people in need, and to work hard while serving others to earn a good living and achieve excellence. In short, they all taught me the importance of personal responsibility as the most reliable springboard to personal opportunity.

Mrs. Nason was my best and my toughest high school teacher. Used to A’s in English, I was stunned when my first paper came back with a C-. Assuming she might have misjudged my effort, I stayed after class. Her words stung, “You’re not used to this, are you Terry? I checked to make sure you were not in this class by mistake. I found straight A’s; I’m not sure how you earned them. This paper looked like you did it the night before it was due.”

Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

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