Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

American Entitlement Culture

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, October 10, 2013

Recently, I happened across an item which read “When they analyze the demise of western society due to the entitlement epidemic, it’ll trace back to giving kids awards just for showing up.”

Of course, it can sometimes be difficult to discern sarcasm when reading, and I rather suspect there is at least a smidgen of sarcasm in that brief remark.

Sarcasm, of course, can, and is often used to convey a truth, or truths about numerous subjects, and is a teaching tool, as well.

Because I often use dictionaries to aid my understanding, I chose to look up the definition of the word “entitlement.” Here’s what I found:
As a verb, to “entitle” is to give someone a legal right, or a just claim to receive or do something.

For example, in the United States, the First Amendment is an entitlement to freedom from governmental intrusion into religious practices, freedom to observe religious practice (if one so chooses), freedom of speech, of press, and an opportunity to request redress grievances in their government.

Those are all entitlements.

For better clarity on the matter, here’s a brief excerpt from an essay by David John Marotta, who wrote that “By definition, legal rights are entitlements; they are rights granted to you, in this case by the power of the government. The claim to your entitlements is only justified by the gift of the grantor.”

So we see that because the First Amendment is part of a governing document – the United States Constitution – it is a right given by and through the power of government. Thus, it is an entitlement.

Now, as I re-read the phrase “entitlement epidemic” in the remark above, and consider it in light of what entitlements are – specific rights granted by government – I cannot understand why the possession of rights, in and of themselves, could be bad.

Then, as I re-read the clause, “giving kids awards just for showing up,” I sense the sarcasm.

There are several questions that come to mind after reading that item.

Number one, who are “they” who “analyze the demise of western society”? Is the author referring to sociologists? Historians? To whom specifically does “they” refer? Who are “they”? As I’m fond of saying in such cases, “there’s always a ‘they,’ and we rarely know who ‘they‘ are.”

Secondarily, what exactly does the author mean, or hope to infer when writing “giving kids awards just for showing up”? And “showing up” for, or to what, where and when? Doubtless, some children are motivated by being given awards, and some, no doubt, are further motivated when they are awarded “just for showing up.” Not everyone is motivated by the same things. Why not award those who are so motivated?

I highly suspect that the use of the word “entitlement” in the original passage, is more a code word for sentiment that expresses opposition to certain governmental programs such as:

OASDI  – Social Security is the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (more popularly known as “Social Security” because it was created by the Social Security Act of 1935);

Federal Insurance Contributions Act payroll tax (paid for by employer & employee NOT the federal government);

• Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund (The Disability Insurance Trust Fund is a separate account in the United States Treasury. A fixed proportion (dependent on the allocation of tax rates by trust fund) of the taxes received under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act and the Self-Employment Contributions Act are deposited in the fund to the extent that such taxes are not needed immediately to pay expenses. Taxes are deposited in the fund on every business day.);

• Federal Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, which is part A of Medicare, the United States’ health insurance program for people age 65 and older and certain disabled persons. It is financed through payroll taxes derived from current workers and employers.;

• Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund, which is the principle contributor comprising the Social Security Trust Fund.

Now, as I read the official titles of the laws, many which have the words “trust fund” and “insurance,” it makes me wonder… who genuinely opposes trust funds? Who opposes insurance?

I imagine that most – if questioned – would respond that those who are wealthy enough to create, manage or benefit from trust funds are certainly grateful. I would further suppose that individuals who have insurance of the various forms (because they are not wealthy enough to be ‘self-insured’) are grateful for it.

Who would deny others the ability or right to purchase insurance?

Wait… I think I detect a current news item.

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