Until I began writing this post I had honestly forgotten about the perfectly reasonable form of entitlement. For example: One can feel entitled to something for whatever reason. You are OWED x,y and z because the agreement states a, b, and c. After all, one is entitled to the pay that’s agreed upon, yes? You provide the work and the big boss man pays what he said he would for that work. That’s honest and, quite frankly, something I’m hard pressed to think anyone would feel is ethically (even morally) wrong. The other side of this, however, is the notion of being entitled to the usurpation of other people’s earnings/products without such a contract.
Getting something for nothing from people you have no right to demand things from. There is a big difference between these acts. While both are selfish one is merely making an agreement limiting the notions of entitlement to what was stipulated from the outset while the other is a justification of a flawed ethic [you, whoever you are, OWE me, not that you know who I am nor that it is for any reason other than I say I need/want it]. One that hurts other people, whether through legal force or otherwise, who did nothing wrong. In the terms of corporate America (again, Corporatism will be another conversation) this would be a company thinking they could do nothing, in fact they have NO OBLIGATION to do anything whatsoever, and yet they’re still entitled to the money they want. In business transactions it should always be relegated to the above mentioned pay example where both people feel entitled to what was agreed upon: The consumer feeling entitled to the service they’re paying for and the company feeling entitled to their pay for providing the service they agreed to provide.
Let’s assume that a company doesn’t have healthy or reasonable notions of entitlement, but rather the ethically dubious one without aid of favorable legislation via K Street (lobbyists). Would you stand for it? Would the issue here be greed or that the self interest is in fact fed by notions of entitlement granted by the government?
”]For my part I view most politicians (certainly all career politicians) as people who thrive on notions of entitlement. They vote on their own salaries (paid for by the tax payers) and benefits all while it costs them nothing (except paying some taxes from the money they earn off the taxes they receive in the form of said salaries). To vote one’s self an increase in monetary distribution on someone else’s funding is nothing more than a declarative statement of “I deserve whatever money you pay in taxes because I say so”. This isn’t a contract of any sorts beyond people having elected these individuals. While one could argue that the people in power were elected to do a job and, subsequently, were given the okay by the people to do what they will, it’s not one that stands up. The only people who get to vote on those salaries are the political players, not the people in whose employ they are. If the people did decide upon when the raises would take effect, upon what benefits political elite would receive, what would the numbers look like? While that’s interesting conjecture it ultimately is a null point. The entitled do not seek permission from those who are paying [This also goes in hand with exclusionary laws that apply only to the citizenry and not to the elite].
The distinction between this and greed is that greed does not address the means through which one seeks to have “excess” for “selfish reasons”. Greed is, as far as I can tell, at worst a morally/ethically dubious term and at best a simple statement of the human condition that is ethically benign. Entitlement, on the other hand, edifies to the means and reasoning used to obtain what greed proposes. The words, of course, also bring up political discourse when it comes to entitlement programs. The name of the programs says it all while the funding for those programs is rather obfuscated. People are going to feel entitled to services provided by the state when they pay $x in taxes. Why wouldn’t they? The larger issue is, in my opinion, feeling entitled to programs that are not funded by yourself (if you’re one of many who don’t pay any taxes). That is to say the want of getting something, not for nothing, but from someone else’s money. Note: This is not a statement against charities nor even a declarative statement about people’s conscious motivations. I believe in many instances these things are not consciously done.
Wanting a raise and/or help are one thing, but demanding both at other people’s expense (time or money) are something entirely different. When we encourage the hand out to the point of needing little more than demanding in order to receive there is similar discouragement to lay one’s hand open and offer freely to help. Certainly the person without choice is not going to be so charitable, for why would they be? They’re already paying, by force, into something that is supposed to take care of “all of that” even if it is terribly mismanaged to the point of more money going into incompetent bureaucrats (who feel entitled to their earnings from taxes) than where the funds are actually needed. One should reasonably expect a backlash of those forced to pay their earnings to something and someone else. The force does not encourage community but rather aids in building the walls around each person. To feel entitled to what one earns makes sense and is certainly something we all consider to be appropriate in our daily lives. However, if we imagine such behaviors as those demanding something without paying or working for it by people who do then where does the behavior differ from a spoiled child?