The definition for the word “entitlement” means just what it says. According to the dictionary, it is the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.
The word cropped up in my generation (baby boomers) when we heard about young couples wanting to begin their married life at the same economic level where their parents were. Parents talked about starting life in small, walk-up apartments, with an older car, working their way through college waiting tables or pumping gas. In other words, the point was that nothing was ever given to them. It had to be worked for. The next generation felt they were entitled to begin at the level their parents were now. It meant a nice car, a home and all the extras. It was what was owed to them and those circumstances continue.
The term “entitlement” then became a negative when it referred to people on welfare and other “entitlement” programs. In this definition most often the money came from the Federal Government through taxation and was for the purpose of providing a “hand up” for those in need. Those not receiving assistance saw people as thinking they were “entitled” to these government hand-outs, that it was “owed” to them and they didn’t have to work for what they received. This is a continuing and complicated discussion in our society because it covers a wide ranging group of programs in which many of us participate. And there is always the need for us as human beings to help each other and we do so through the government. Trying to assist our fellow citizens in the Carolinas and Puerto Rico after the terrible hurricanes and flooding that struck that region is one item on a long list.
I am going to suggest there be a third definition for the word “entitlement” and it should refer to the billionaires and the directors of huge corporations as well as share holders all who feel “entitled” to the vast amounts of wealth that come from the hands of hard working Americans. Because this is the 10th anniversary of the Wall Street collapse (2008) questions are being asked about where the average American finds himself or herself today. For the most part the response is that no one is better off and that many are still attempting to regain what they had before the fall. The ones who profited from the collapse were the mega-wealthy who continue to line their own pockets.
For me, the issue that bothers me most about the current presidential administration, is the enormous amount of money we are seeing trading hands in Washington, D.C., in the East Coast banking world, and through the world in Europe and elsewhere. Granted, to be in politics you have to have money, but when I hear about the lifestyle of people like Paul Manafort and others in positions of power in the current administration I become very angry. When many of the cabinet positions in the executive branch were filled, it was people who expected the position would add to their wealth and allow them to sail along on the pocketbooks of the average American. There was no thought of public service or following the guidelines of the Constitution such as “promoting the general welfare”. Those who were asked to resign were free loaders and for some reason felt they were “entitled” to take what was not theirs. With no thought or plan of action, money was shifted back and forth and some of it, like the funds from the Inaugural celebration, have never been found.
Most Americans pay their fair share when it comes to taxes to keep this country running and we do it gladly, being grateful for what we have. But too many of these “fat cats” who now inhabit the corridors of Washington, D.C., feel entitled to what money they are peeling off and sticking into their own pockets. None of these people have a clue as to where we live, what this part of the country is like, nor do they have any idea of how most Americans live trying to get by from month to month.
I don’t suppose there is anything that can be done. It is not a new phenomena. These folks have too tight a hold on Washington purse strings, but I feel better just saying it out loud.