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?


13 responses to “Entitlement

  • Hart

    Oh, Kimberly… you’ve awaken my inner socialist… I guess my thinking is this… the masses DON’T GET what it costs. Everyone thinks they are paying to much. Every person thinks only their PET programs ought to be paid for and that everything else is a waste. Reality is, there are people who NEED something, though they can’t contribute.

    CHILDREN for one. (Oh, sure, their parents should pay, but should the KID be destined to be unhealthy and uneducated, just for the crime of being born to a lazy or ignorant person-NO.) In fact dollars spent on education REDUCE dollars needed for imprisonment.

    HEALTH CARE (for all): preventative care is cheaper than emergency care, and nobody is denied emergency care.

    MENTALLY ILL: there are people simply incapable of contributing what it costs for them to live. I am all for having them do something productive, but it is unlikely to be something that pays their way.

    DISABLED: Same issue.

    When I was a child, my father died. My mom hadn’t worked long enough to EARN IT (nor had my dad) but I received social security as an orphan until I was 18 and my mom received it as a widow long enough to go back and get a college education. That was a GOOD investment by the federal government in our case–we both became productive because of that safety net. But how do they KNOW? There will be moms (or dads) who just take advantage… stay on as long as possible and do nothing. Do we want government employees coming into our lives and CHECKING that we are doing what we should?

    I think our system is pretty darned broken, but I also think it is the PUBLIC who acts entitled by not being willing to contribute to things we all need.

    (all said in the spirit of debate)

    • kimberlyloomis

      Health care is something one gets from a physician. Not the government. Universal health care changes this so that you only get the care the bureaucrats decide upon. Insurance is a problem. Hint: It’s regulated by the government – state and federal; problems in the system are there by design, intentional or not. Do you think it’s appropriate to walk up to a doctor and demand his services? Why or why not?

      Amazingly enough people retired, were cared for (including children without parents) and weren’t dying on the streets prior to these entitlement programs. Charities existed prior to institutionalized welfare which didn’t happen until after the inception of the income tax in 1913.

      It’s one thing to need help, but it’s another to operate under the assumption that it’s your right to have it when it comes from someone else. This is nothing more than stating that your (I have no idea what other word to suppose there, I’m not pointing a finger, but speaking generally) needs are greater than the people whom you are taking from to provide for that need. How or why? Ask for help and my guess would be there are many people who would be happy to do what they could to do so. Sure there might be people who wouldn’t, but don’t they have that right as well?

      A myth has been sold in this country about how much we need the government. I lay claim that we don’t need it, it needs us. I speak against malevolent entitlement (and that’s what it is when you demand other people to spend their earnings into a system that doesn’t work based upon your morality) not because I don’t care about people, but because I care about all people. No awareness or goodness comes from forcing people to give up their earnings, nor from telling the people who don’t work they don’t have to (or even strive to do better). The people who pay have a right to their money. Not anyone else. As long as government is in the middle of the people there is no reason for people to go back to the days where charitable contributions were high and communities were active in looking after their own. They also could/would police who would receive the benefits of the charity and not have need of paramilitary involvement for such a matter.

      I think the largest issue I have with things like this is the requisite assumption of moral superiority in vying for a system such as this. There is nothing more to the arguments than what one perceives as good and advocating, by force, that other people live under that dictum. Judge, jury and jailer. This is the antithesis of freedom. Who decides what morality is right and should be used as the measure by which other people are penalized and should live by?

      I find it interesting that many Socialists are against war yet advocate faith in government taking care of everything else. If you are anti-war could you explain that to me? I mean that very seriously. I don’t get it. This also made me think of you mentioning the mayor in your home state and the apparent disgust you had about his perception of salary needs (I don’t make moral judgments on those grounds). These are the same people deciding what money goes where. Do you trust them? If so – why? If not – why leave so much in their hands?

      Socialism fails on pure economic principles never mind all the lessons history shows us.

      If people are going to require the state to steal from other people to provide via redistribution then the people taking need to be held accountable. People pay taxes without reprieve (tax evasion is a crime), why then should people be able to receive benefits from this money without the same fear of reprisal?

      • Teresa

        This is way too deep for me, but, I will say, as a taxpayer, I wish to help those who need or want help without judging.

        Our country will never be out of debt–hasn’t been since I’ve been on board. The gap between the haves and the have nots is getting larger and middle class seems to be disappearing. Guess where they are going? Yep, into the have not heap.

        I know too many people who need healthcare and cannot afford it and go without it. Many are called the working poor. I’m concerned about them and the nonworking poor because…frankly, that could be any of us with the right crisis.

        Thought provoking post, Kimberly.

      • Hart

        See, the problem, is healthcare is actually a finite resource. So we can ration it based on good decisions (a best practice analysis of what works, enforced via government) or based on who has money to pay for it. Income, strangely enough, is NOT distributed based on who most deserves it in any way shape or form. The best money goes to people like corporate CEO’s who do very LITTLE–they create not wealth. Their incomes are tied to their charismatic negociation skills when they got the job.

        [Now if it were tied to the success of the business, I might at least BUY the model, but not since Lee Iacoca have I seen a CEO willing to do THAT. Lawyers make a ton for keeping us in a quagmire. Medical specialists make a ton. But on what planet is a lawyer more valuable than a teacher? How is their contribution greater? but I digress]

        The REAL fact of the matter is, the US is the only advanced economy NOT to have socialized medicine, and our health outcomes are dead LAST. We have infant mortality comparable to Nicaragua. (or maybe it is El Salvador) What we are doing isn’t working.

        In addition, the WAITS for health care are no longer in… say France (or even MOST provinces in Canada, though as I understand it, like the US, it is province by province)–do you know how long the wait is when I want a physical? 3 months. I can get in in a day or two if I’m SICK (so can socialized countries).

        The BIG difference is those countries, because the system is integrated, don’t have wastful things like the 3 million dollar machines at a rate of 5 in a hundred mile radius when one would be sufficient… you need an MRI, you may have to drive a little ways… But oh, no… not in the US… Every hospital has to have one, even though it is used 5 times a year. See… because the hospitals are COMPETING, so hell yes, they all need one… are you seeing where the inefficiency of our system comes in? And every hospital needs EVERY specialist (driving up their rates of reimbursement) because heaven forbid Mercy has one and Good Sam doesn’t!

        But yes. You’ve got me. I think health care is a RIGHT. I believe everyone is ENTITLED. Not to extreme measures of care, but to adequate, and especially preventative care.

  • kimberlyloomis

    Totally agree with you, Teresa. I’m concerned about the people, but paying bureaucrats and wasting valuable resources on a system that’s broken is something I don’t consider as helping that. Charities have done it more efficiently and, with less taxation, I think they would be able to do what they used to. People can take care of people, a system can not. 🙂

    • Teresa

      And one more thing. YES the waste in Washington and Jefferson City (for me) is so sad or maybe I should say criminal and yet it’s always been like that and I don’t see it changing. The waste could be put to much better use say…putting food in the mouths of the hungry… a no brainer.

      Is there any hope of changing the ways of the bureaucrats? And who will stop them? They are the power.


      • kimberlyloomis

        Teresa – I ultimately agree except in the fatalism. The only way change can happen is in each of us and a continuous effort to force change upon the system and the elites that are running it. When we give up even the smallest amount of hope we have become complicit in the corruption and waste. Ideals are almost always worth pursuing, without them we just end up justifying inaction with pragmatism and therefor further our enslavement to the elite.

  • Arlee Bird

    You bring up important points here. I think the U.S. is coming to a crisis situation and the attitudes of the government, the corporate world, and the general populace have become perilous for the well being of this country. The way things are going the United States will eventually will become a country that produces and manufactures nothing tangible that is of good to anyone, but instead only creates problems and a bunch of helpless, spoiled, demanding citizens.

    Tossing It Out

    • kimberlyloomis

      Lee – I feel like that is already much the case now. Certainly not everyone falls into that category, but certainly an overwhelming amount fail to evaluate the premise of the notions that everyone has a right to whatever even if that is something provided by someone else. That “someone else” doesn’t matter, the choice seemingly needed to be taken away. It’s the arm of force taking away choice from those who are deemed to be the providers. To believe in freedom is to defend every law-abiding citizen’s choice of how they want to live; to advocate thievery on the notion of moral superiority is something I find to be another paradox inherent in the belief (thievery being appropriate because THEY’RE RIGHT).

  • litlove

    I do love this site because you head-on tackle all the issues that get covered up with prickly insecurity and double thinking. Entitlement is such a new word, never existed when I was a child, or a young mother, and back in those days (not the dark ages, only a decade or so ago) I only knew the phrase ‘to be entitled’ as something only terribly rude and selfish people uttered. It was considered bad manners to think you were ‘entitled’ to anything – you were lucky to get your share of whatever was going, and you should be grateful for it.

    It’s interesting to try to figure out what sorts of needs and emotional states ‘entitlement’ came in to serve. In many ways it expresses resentment and injustice – I feel I should have something that it seems to me that others have. And sometimes, when someone has fallen on hard luck, that’s exactly right and what they need. But in the days before entitlement, the community was there to help people who struggled. Need was obvious, and people were kind enough to offer charity whenever they could. Sounding off about entitlement changes the picture entirely – it means that neighbourly good will, the urge every one of us feels to help out someone worse off,to look out for each other, can be brushed off because entitlement means it’s someone else’s business, usually the government. If we all yell about being entitled, then it prevents other people from being generous.

    But there are places where entitlement has become seriously misplaced. At university, for instance, if someone has paid the money for the course, that doesn’t mean they are entitled to a good grade. They’re entitled to good teaching, but the rest is up to them. To my mind entitlement can only be taken on a case by case basis – it can never be a general rule.

    • kimberlyloomis

      Litlove- I think you said it better than I did. Want and need, while are two different things, are not an issue for debate so long as a person doesn’t seek to have someone else provide all that for them. When that comes into play the necessary conversation about morality comes up and the unfortunate and now vital issues of legislating morality which always involves taking away someone else’s freedom so someone else can get what they want or need.

      The abdication of responsibility to a system run by people, while noting a decided lack of faith in people, is a frustration I have. If one does not think other people will help, how then can a system that is only made of people do any better?

      A friend of mine teaches at a community college and talks about the issues of students doing precisely what you mentioned. Parents get involved blasting teachers for not giving good grades thus feeding into the entitlement issues. When you pay for a course you’re entitled to take the course, to be taught (in whatever manner that teacher is teaching it), not to get the good grades you want. I shudder to think of what would happen if this was ever to become the rule in education.

      Thank you for your words. This post actually made me somewhat frightened. Few other topics are as vitriolic as this one currently.

  • Hart

    You’ve got a great convo going here, Kimberly–and important dialog… I just wanted to add on the charity thing…

    I don’t have issues with charities doing their part, but they are not conveniently distributed geographically, and some come with a lot of ‘rules’–for instance… birth control… most religious charities would not consider that to be part of the care they provided.

    But back to geography… my parents live in a small town in Idaho, and because they did what they SHOULD, they had saved enough to retire early… Health care. Private providers? Only ONE, who had no competition. My mom, at 55 had NEVER had a health problem and they wanted to charger her $1200 a month for insurance. Had it been possible to buy into a national plan (mom was advocating allowing younger people to BUY INTO medicare) it would have been about a third that. they ended up WORKING longer because they couldn’t be without and couldn’t just fy paying that.

    Now sure, maybe a solution would be a collective bargaining group… private citizens of Moscow, idaho collectively negociating and taking bids… or some such thing, but even THAT seems like it needs formal legitimizing.

    I’ve had large employers and small, and I can tell you, large employers can get better insurance for their workers… is THAT fair? (no, but it’s capitalism)–what does this do though, for an incentive for being a self-employed entrepreneur? And anybody just paying as they go? pay a third more because there is no insurance company negociating down the bill–When I had my first child, EVERY BILL had cost/allowed and then the hospital WROTE OFF the difference. Had it been just me… it ALL would have had to be paid. individuals have NO POWER against something big and powerful like the only hospital in town.

    • kimberlyloomis

      Hart – Insurance has nothing to do with Capitalism I’m sorry to say (truth is the US is not a Capitalist country anymore). I might tackle that in another post, but for now suffice it to say Capitalism is not synonymous with the Corporatist system we have. Insurance, along with banking, is one of the most regulated industries in the US meaning the problems with it must rest somewhat upon the system you’re vying to have more control.

      As for healthcare: No one is entitled to the services someone else provides. I wouldn’t go to a mechanic stating he needed to fix my car for whatever pay I could offer because I needed it to drive/work/take care of my child and so I wouldn’t do that to a physician. Perhaps I would work out a payment plan when discussing life situations, etc, but I am not entitled to that knowledge or service. If that is not the case that makes the service provider a slave of the people. Is this appropriate? Why?

      Insurance is difficult as it is regulated by government. Medicare is famously mismanaged and projected to go bankrupt in a few years while fraud remains a large issue.

      Another law that causes issues with health care costs in this country is that doctors can not do flexible rates for people without insurance. Every doctor I had worked for wanted to be flexible, to charge people who were paying on their own less than what they billed insurance companies, but for fear of the law they didn’t want to risk it. This does not help people, it forces people to purchase something they may not need (insurance) in order to better manage what they have to pay. This goes to costs.

      If you want more competition then government needs to step out of the picture. Government can not “create” competition by adding a structure to the landscape, for then it’s not competition, it’s government controls. If one is set up to compete against government prepare to lose. This is the nature of government being able to shut down businesses, regulate them out of existence, or levy more taxes to stay financially sustaining (USPS) while they also regulate the other guy out of business.

      Socialist countries are cutting back on all manner of social programs due to severe financial duress. Go figure. The things that never get cut are government salaries or departments, but instead university funding and health care. [This is happening all over the place now. Sweden has notoriously high taxes and a horrific medical system.] When the government is in control over the debt it takes out in your name, then the care you can get and the technology that gets permitted, it holds all the cards. The only thing keeping people in health in this situation is faith in government. A faith that I still have seen no representation of it being deserving of. [Even if people do have this inordinate faith in a system described as corrupt I still claim to have the right to live not in accordance with or subordinate to that faith. Such is the nature of a free society. Freedom until due process of law. That is MY entitlement and, given my ideology, everyone else’s as well.]

      As for the issues of wages… One needs to evaluate the political structure as it pertains to these large companies before engaging in the issues of CEO pay versus worker pay. Look up political/big business ties and don’t discriminate based upon party.

      The education system in the US is another example of why bureaucracy shouldn’t be relied upon; the people who control teachers’ salaries and benefits are bureaucrats and administrators. What I don’t understand is why you have faith in government “taking care of us” in such a vital thing as getting the care we need from physicians. Why?

      Just because other countries have it doesn’t mean we should too. Our innovation is tremendous, the medical schools the best in the world. Never mistake me railing against Socialism (it’s not working so well for Cuba, btw, and no they weren’t Communist despite their claims to the contrary) for thinking our system is awesome. It needs fixed. Given politicians’ self serving tendencies, however, I fail to see how giving them more power means that’s what’s going to happen.

      Beyond that, I’m pro-Freedom. These notions of entitlement make slaves of everyone but the elite or those who can operate the system to not be labeled a provider by someone who wants. The paradox of Socialism is one whose premise is an egalitarian society with a ruling class calling the shots.

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