The other day I reported on an traffic accident in which neither of the two drivers' vehicles were insured.
Casualty count: One slightly injured person, a few scared kids in one of the cars, one call to city public works to investigate a damaged utility pole. Our (taxpayers') cost: Probably little, in this case. The utility pole was apparently okay despite a hard hit, but without insurance, we would have paid. And hopefully the injured person had health insurance. At least the drivers were sober.
It's just one example of the need for individuals, and institutions, to take more personal responsibility. Vehicle insurance, costly as it is, is a must.
But some people have far deeper problems. The constant reports I see of drunken drivers and angry individuals threatening to kill or injure others (or actually doing so) -- personal actions which affect other, often innocent, victims -- indicate too many people could care less what's right.
On higher levels, irresponsibility is just as obvious.
During times in which prices seemingly inflate faster than a child's balloon -- and in times in which power-hungry politicians and money-comes-first business representatives sometimes don't seem to be any more mature than jealous playground bullies -- nearly all of us feel the effects of irresponsibility.
We keep hearing about banks and loan companies signing off on home loans which no one with common sense should have granted.
Gas prices have reached ridiculously high levels, driving prices up on many items we've taken for granted for years, while prices rise on cars with good gas mileage.
Our leaders sometimes seem so inadequate. Some of their decisions are driving the nation into the ground -- and, in the case of some individuals, into despair.
The police beat part of my job allows me to sometimes spot trends. And a recent trend is a very obvious rise within the past few months in the number of people claiming they want to commit suicide.
Practically all of those attempts were prevented by local law enforcement taking those people to the emergency room for intervention by crisis specialists. And reports aren't filed, so we don't know what caused their actions.
But I wonder: Were some of those people driven to despair by financial or personal problems caused by others' irresponsibilty?
In an ideal world, we'd look out for each other through business and personal decisions which aren't driven by greed or a perceived need to dominate -- and share responsibility. Too bad life often doesn't work that way.