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Posted by on Mar 11, 2010 in Society | 12 comments

Entitlement Derangement

“Ask not,” JFK urged at his inaugural, “what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.”

Half a century later, making sacrifices, large or small, has vanished from most Americans’ vocabularies, replaced by a raging sense of disappointed entitlement that leads them to blame everyone but themselves for what’s wrong with their country.

In bipartisan disgust, only 22 percent now approve of Congress, a 10 percent decline in two months and, in a reversal of precedent, fewer than half want to reelect their own representatives. Barack Obama, the avatar of Hope little more than a year ago, is holding on to a bare majority of support.

Such dissatisfaction is understandable in the light of Congress’ miserable performance, but something deeper seems to be involved–a grotesque growth of selfishness in the society from top to bottom.

The newest poll on health care, for example, shows only a minority of a minority supporting reform as a moral obligation to the uninsured with the majority, even though dissatisfied with the system, opposed in response to fears that have been aroused that they will have to pay more or get less.

“We pay for most of our health care indirectly, through taxes or paycheck deductions,” says a New York Times analysis, “which lulls us into thinking that the care is somehow free. As the Stanford economist Victor Fuchs notes, many Americans say they want to control costs–but oppose just about any policy to do so. It should be no surprise that politicians do the same.”

The Tea Party movement, fueled by fears that someone else in the society could benefit at their expense, may be only the tip of an iceberg of discontent that has been growing since JFK’s time.

Back then, wars were fought by young people drafted from every stratum of society rather than the mostly poor who volunteer now as much out of economic need and the hope of upward social mobility as patriotism.

Back then, home ownership was hard-earned by saving for a substantial down payment rather than promoted as an automatic right by uncontrolled easy-buck middlemen who created a bubble that has almost wrecked the economy.

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Copyright 2010 The Moderate Voice
  • shannonlee

    Another odd attack on HCR. It appears that all conservative writers have been tasked at pulling out all of the stops….write anything…in any way…to scare as many people as possible.

  • kritt11

    Thanks for your timely and astute observations, Robert. I was a young kid when Kennedy made that speech, but I remember how it inspired me to give back.
    We turned from the Greatest generation into the Me generation- starting in the 80’s under Reagan and now our kids are the Overentitled generation. Moral obligation is becoming obsolete.

  • CStanley

    Up is down when you’re through the looking glass, I suppose. One would think that the real ‘entitlement derangement’ and corruption of JFK’s concept of giving to one’s country would be attributed to those who want to establish a permanent entitlement of health insurance for all.

  • DLS

    The correct example of “entitlement derangement” with health care reform is found in the expression, “health care is a right” (or “a human right”).

    Another correct example of entitlement derangement is the typical polling data you can find that has people opposing either higher taxes or a higher retirement age to make retirement programs solvent.…/FTHarrisPoll/HI_FinancialTimes_Harris_Poll_May_2009


    “I have a right to my candy!”

    • garrat

      I find it strang that you say it’s entitlement derangement since even in the most primitive societies on earth they have some one that provides some form of heath care regardless of status. We all get sick some day but we don’t have a right to have some help in making us healthy?

  • Leonidas

    The entitlement mentality is probably the worst problem facing our nation. There are only two ways to fix it, the best is good parenting, the second is paying the piper when it crashes down.

  • TheMagicalSkyFather

    I agree I have grown tired of people feeling they are entitled to tax money though spending has not been cut to actually give back the tax money.

    I also am tired of people in groups like the AMA that game the system to raise their pay at the nations expense and then wonder why we do not have the ability to pay the ever increasing bills. I am also tired of things like trying to make it affordable but not wanting to dismantle groups like the AMA and the reg’s they champion and deciding instead to start up programs like medicare/caid so that we are now being screwed from two ends all while we only see the “fix” side of the issue as the problem.

    Ladies and gents they are both the problem and fixing only one side still leaves us in a distorted market. I am also tired of the feeling that we are entitled to be an empire seemingly forgetting we were born in the ashes of one that we did not like all that much.

    I am also tired of those that feel we are entitled to ever larger and fantastic weapons systems so we can pay huge sums for military contractors and their workers to make bank while the rest of the nations salaries stagnate and fall. Why are they falling? Because the financial/military/prison/entitlement sectors of our economy have sucked up all of the money like a giant vacuum but we are to busy “keeping ours” to admit that the entire system needs to be junked all while the cost of living continues to rise.

    When the boomers retire and say “where is my SS check” I will remind them that everytime they voted for someone that cut taxes and not spending their future check got smaller by their own choice. Bitter? yea you could say that because the boomers from my view not only looted their future SS money they also looted Gen X and Gen Y’s future while they bought two and three houses for their children and ex-spouses following their 3-5 divorces while they hide at work from their children that they wonder why continually reject and attack them…um you sold their future and their childhood bub maybe you should buck up. We have a good deal of derangement in this nation and you are correct entitlement is a huge issue but of course you can’t seem to see the forest for the tree’s OR you are benefiting in some way from this derangement on an issue you have chosen conveniently not to discuss.

  • DLS

    “paying the piper when it crashes down”

    Here’s the shortfall of SS and Medicare — all new taxes, debt, or transferring money from elsewhere.

    Here’s Medicare cost and (insufficient) revenue stats.

    And if that’s not enough (this actually belongs on another thread, too)

  • spirit26

    Shannonlee, are you scared? Because you should be.

    Entitlements are bankrupting municipalities, states and the country. And what I hear day in and day out is cut spending, but not my spending, and don’t you dare reduce services. States budget a certain amount of money to agencies, the agencies give their top administrators big, fat raises and perks, they hire redundant employee after redundant employee, and then the state is then blamed when after-school, health and social service programs are threatened.

    There was a time when governments could sustain these enormous salaries, both public and private, and maintain the gigantic safety net of entitlements but no more.

  • DLS

    The states (see below) and the federal government will someday have to greatly reduce their employee retirement pensions and benefits, which are excessive — and people 10-20+ years from now won’t tolerate being taxed to death to support a leisure class they will increasingly view as parasitic.

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