Entitlement endangerment

Beware the statement, “I deserve it.” The phrase betrays a fundamental fact of life: Life’s not fair.

“I deserve it.” captures the modern entitlement mentality. But before we target government check recipients, let us look in the mirror. Do these sound familiar?

“I worked hard all year. I deserve a bonus.”

“I make my daughter my top priority. She better not rebel.”

“I eat right and exercise. I should have a long life.” And its corollary, “I worked out. I deserve ice cream.”

A sense of entitlement can wreck relationships and fell families. How many extramarital affairs do we owe to this perspective (or lack thereof)? How many adult children living at home? How much consumer debt?

It’s the old-fashioned ledger system. I do X. I deserve Y. “I got up with the crying kid last night. I’m playing golf on Saturday.” Simply put, you owe me. I’m entitled.

The mentality is no respecter of persons. Capable people can be just as susceptible as the welfare abuser. See leadership guru John Maxwell’s book “Talent Is Never Enough.”

Still, America’s vast natural resources and economic superiority have sparked the entitlement attitude in many citizens. “I live in America. I deserve provision.”

Two cases in point I read recently:

First, a lady on food stamps brings dog food to the grocery check out line. When informed that dog food isn’t an eligible item, she scoffs at the cashier before telling her to hold on. Two minutes later she returns with an eligible package of steaks for Rover.

Second, a young doctor at Dallas’ public hospital told of an uninsured man who arrived in the emergency room with chest pains. When he wasn’t forwarded to a private room quickly enough, he verbally abused the hospital staff. Small wonder he was in cardiac arrest.

An inverse relationship exists between a person’s sense of entitlement and his productivity. Yet, in the name of compassion, we keep creating entitlement programs that jeopardize our pro-growth economy and cause generational dependency.

Parenting experts have a solution for this too-much-compassion-breeds-dependency syndrome: tough love. We need more of it, individually and collectively.

The entitlement-driven budget troubles in Western Europe have popularized the public sector version of tough love. It’s called “austerity measures.” Greece must make yet another round of austerity cuts to stave off bankruptcy. How deep the entitlements ran there.

Likewise, the U.S. must reverse its trend of entitlement expansion if we are to stave off sluggish economic growth and ultimately fiscal insolvency.

In his run for the Republican presidential nomination, Gov. Rick “Ponzi Scheme” Perry is beating the Social Security reform drum with abandon.

He should point out the average life expectancy when Social Security began in 1940. It was 62 years. Yes, a full three years before the age of eligibility. Extrapolate that fact to today and Social Security checks would begin in a person’s 80s.

Raising Social Security’s eligibility age might keep the “third rail” of American politics viable. As it stands, the growing segment of recipients will crush the shrinking pool of providers.

Whether with individual, family or nation, the “entitlementality” gives way to disarray. No one takes responsibility for doing the hard work required to make a relationship, a household or a country go. Everyone is entitled. No one earns. No one wins.

Kevin Thompson is a columnist for The Boerne Star. He can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.

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