The opposite of gratitude is entitlement

BeggingMy Mom is living off the proceeds from selling her house, my Dad’s small pension, and her equally small social security checks.  She is not flush with cash but, thanks to having owned a house in San Francisco, even with today’s minimal interest rates, she still has enough to last her for a few years.  In addition, Mom’s first cousin, who is very wealthy, generously sends my mom a nice check every Christmas.  This last one is, of course, purely a gift.  The fact that it is a gift, however, did not stop Mom from calling me today (the checks are sent to my address) to ask, “Did she send a big check?  You know, she owes me a lot of money?”

That reminded me, of course, of the Jewish joke about the beggar who sits outside an office building.  Every Monday, a businessman working in the building makes it a point to give the beggar $10.  This goes on for quite some time but, one Monday, things change.  Instead of handing the beggar a $10 bill, the businessman hands the beggar a $5 bill.

“What’s this?” asks the surprised beggar.  “You always give me $10.”

“I’m sorry,” the man replies, “but business has been very bad lately.”

To which the beggar responds, “Just because your business is bad, I should suffer?”

Too many people, my mother included, lack a sense of gratitude and operate purely from a sense of entitlement.  This is something worth thinking about when it comes to America’s welfare policies.

There is no right to entitlement — by guestblogger Danny Lemieux

People are arguing past themselves on the healthcare issue because words have come to mean very different things to different people. More specifically, there is great confusion over what is meant by a “right” (as in “Bill of…). Tell me if you agree.

I have been listening to video and audio clips of the various town hall meetings on health care issues and have noticed that a major part of the pro-single payer cant is to refer to health care as a “human right”. I’ve got news…there is no “right” to health care! People can feel entitled to health care, however. Here’s the difference:

Our right to free speech, to worship as we wish, to protect ourselves, to bear arms, to own property, to pursue happiness and assemble (especially if it makes you happy) costs others nothing of their own rights, including their right to their own labor and property. As our Declaration of Independence proclaims, these are “God-given” rights – they do not impinge upon the similar rights of others.

However, when we claim a “right” to education, to housing, to healthcare and so one, we essentially demand that others satisfy our needs by giving of their time, labor and intellectual property under terms dictated by we-the-takers.

Ah…you say…but the government pays people to satisfy our rightful demands. Well…not really. For when we make such claims on others through a coercive third party (government), the providers of services no longer enter into the transaction under their own free will and terms of their choice. Otherwise, it would be a straightforward commercial transaction between consenting parties (“I need health care, you have the ability to provide it, so let’s negotiate the price). There is no need for government to enter into this transaction.

Under a government health care program, your doctor or nurse may get paid, but they get paid under terms dictated by the government (as in, “you either comply with these Medicare payment guidelines or you don’t get compensated and your family starves”), by the forcible taking of money from the taxpayers. The government’s demand for other people’s time and labor is not directed to health care professionals but also to Jack and Jenny down the road who must earn the money to pay taxes no matter whether Jack and Jenny are having a tough time making ends meet. I could never accept the proposition that Jack and Jenny ever agreed to shell-out for somebody else’s health care and until I could see their written agreement to that effect. Until I do, I assume that Jack and Jenny’s contribution to the welfare of others falls under the involuntary servitude provision of the 13th Amendment.

Ah, you say, but this is a democracy, and in a democracy the “people” willingly vote to pay taxes in exchange for such benefits. True, such does not happen with the consent of all. Does a majority have the right to vote the involuntary servitude of a minority? Plus, as our burgeoning national debt underscores, “we the people” collectively demand far more in goods and services from our government than for which we are willing to pay…the difference must eventually be confiscated from somebody. Consequently, monies necessary to satisfy the entitlement demands of individual Americans are being coerced from people, many of whom have yet to be borne, who have never had the opportunity to consent or dissent to be taxed. Plus, anyone who truly believes that their individual consent to be or not to be taxed in order to satisfy the needs of others unknown is even remotely enters into consideration by their government is, in my opinion, hopelessly naive. Let’s find out how many of the top 1% of wage earners have consented to having their property expropriated by the other 99%. Personally, I happen to believe that taking other peoples’ money without just compensation is immoral, but maybe that’s just me.

So, how do we fight this? I understand how this can all seem very confusing to the many Americans already conditioned to membership in the collectivist hive. We have already slouched so far down the road to serfdom since the New Deal that it will take a very long, lonely, frustrating uphill slog to change our country’s direction. But, what other choice do we have other than to willingly surrender our freedoms?

I suggest that we can begin by slowly and persistently helping people around us re-framing the issues as follows:

  • Don’t let people get away with calling entitlement “rights”. Correct them and say, “what you really meant to say is you feel entitled to other peoples’ money and labor”.
  • When people tell you that “the Government will pay for…”, ask them where they think the government gets its money. You might be surprised by how many people don’t make that connection.
  • When people say that health care or anything else should be “free”, ask them if that means that believe their doctors and nurses should work for free.
  • Whenever someone says that the “government owes them___”, correct them and say, “What you mean to say is that other people (taxpayers) owe you___”.
  • When people say “but I pay taxes too, so I am just getting back what I’m owed”, respond with “you haven’t paid nearly enough in taxes to pay for your benefits (in 90%-plus of all cases, you will be right).
  • When people say that it’s a democracy and people vote through their elected representatives to pay taxes, ask them “when was the last time that you personally approved paying for another unknown person’s health needs?” Ask them if they would like to write you a check for your own kid’s next visit to the doctor or dentist.

Does anyone else care to add to the list?

It’s shaping up to be a very long and turbulent end-of-Summer and there are a lot of minds that need serious changing.

[Bookworm here:  About 20 years ago, a book I read (and I believe it was Philip K. Howard's The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America), spoke at length about the fact that government had become very free in handing out made-up "rights," because citizens could be forced, at their own cost, to extend those rights to other citizens without the addition of government programs.  It's now come full circle, with those same made-up "rights" becoming costly government programs that, instead of increasing our freedom from intrusive government -- which was what the Founder's really meant by "rights" -- decrease those true and inherent rights.

I have to applaud Danny Lemieux for making this important point, one that I wish I'd made myself (although I couldn't have made it as well).]