“I decided I don’t need it.”

There is a lesson here on individual responsibility.

[Outfielder So] Taguchi, signed by the Phillies this winter, is the only Japanese player on a major-league contract this spring who does not use an interpreter around the ballpark, according to Gaku Tashiro, the big-dog ball writer from Japan’s Sankei News.

Taguchi used an interpreter when he first signed with St. Louis in 2002. However, he was sent to the minors that season and with the demotion came this message: You want an interpreter, you pay for it.

“I decided I don’t need it,” Taguchi said with a laugh the other day.

Though his wife, Emiko, spoke English, Taguchi spoke virtually none when he headed off to minor-league outposts in New Haven, Conn., and Memphis. Over time, he picked up enough to get by. When he made it to St. Louis in 2004, the Cardinals offered to get him an interpreter.

Taguchi said no thanks.

In perfect English.

“It was tough,” he said, recalling life around the ballpark without an interpreter. “But it was a good thing. I had to do everything by myself. It helped me learn.”

The Cardinals are a private organization┬╣, but this story informs the debate on public policy. People can and do help themselves when required to be responsible for the burden involved in helping themselves.

┬╣ Congress doesn’t seem to agree.