There are certain words that, in and of themselves, are polarizing. Jargon that is used by either side of a debate, and once somebody utters one of these words, it’s almost always a good idea to back away slowly, as the conversation is not likely to go anywhere. One example is “Obamacare.” President Obama has attempted to embrace it in a positive way, but I’ve yet to hear it coming from a mouth that is not sneering, and the instant that it is said, I know that the person has dug in their heels and meaningful conversation won’t be possible. On the other side of things, much as I hate to admit it (since I use this phrase), “the War on Women” is a clear signal that the speaker is pretty far left of center and if you want to argue with them about abortion, you probably won’t be changing their mind.
One such word has been repeatedly coming up in my conversations lately, and I’m tired of it. Maybe you’ve guessed it: “entitlements.”
The photo comes with a block of text, just in case you can’t figure it out from the picture:
CONTRARY TO BELIEF….NO ONE OWES YOU ANYTHING!!!
Yet Liberals seem to think that everyone else owes them something. They are owed this entitlement and that entitlement. Guess what. No one owes anyone else anything. When you work for something you get rewarded, no one hands you anything for free in business, why should the taxpayer hand over entitlements just because someone thinks they deserve it. NO WAY! That is not how America was built, that is not what America stands for. We stand for hard work and earning what you have!
Okay, I need to get something out of the way from the get-go: the saying is “contrary to popular belief.” Now, maybe the creator of the graphic is trying to make a point that the belief isn’t popular, because only silly, silly liberals think it, but then what’s the point? I think it’s more likely that they just aren’t familiar with common idioms in the English language. Totally acceptable, if they are second language learners, but don’t forget! The far right has no love for immigrants, so probably not.
Now, onto the content. “Entitlement” has become a GOP codeword for any sort of social support programs: Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps. Entitlement technically just means “the fact of having a right to something,” but in the current political climate, it means “when a lazy, lazy, lazy greedy person takes money from the hardworking people just because they think they deserve it.”
A friend of mine recently posted on his wall that he thought it was hypocritical for people to complain about social programs while taking farm subsidies, and one of his friends replied:
In these comments, it is clear that “entitlement” has taken on a different meaning than its dictionary form: farm subsidies are not included in this new definition of entitlements, because they generally go to (Republicans/white people/male people/”hardworking” people/people like me). Entitlements, on the other hand, go to (lazy people/brown people/poor people/stupid people/people not like me). In other words, it has little basis in reality, and is instead a way for a person to make themselves feel superior. No matter who you are, entitlements refer to something other than what you are getting (lest we forget, just about everybody is getting something), and they are something that you think the other person doesn’t deserve.
Another example showed up on my feed this week:
I’ve written about this type of crapdate before, but it deserves a rehashing, not because of the picture itself but because of the commentary that happened after it. I replied to the posting that I didn’t think that kind of thinking was right, but I was quickly shouted down. And then this, from the original poster:
In reality, these arguments, these fights against social programs, have nothing to do with the social programs themselves, nor do they have anything to do with helping or not helping those in need. What is really happening is a need to prove superiority, a need to justify the entitlement that you feel. Because remember, entitlement just means having the right to something. You deserve what you get, and you appreciate it when you do, and so your entitlement is legitimate. The social help that is going to other people, though – well, those people are below you in some way, and one way to increase the distance is to be disdainful.
Which brings me back to entitlement. Entitlement has come to mean lazy people gobbling up the government money, but the biggest entitlement of all is never mentioned. This was my response to the woman who was talking about entitlement above:
Yes, the country is full of entitlement. The country is full of people who think that the government owes them something simply because they were born here – only this type of entitlement isn’t based on anything tangible such as demonstrated need, but instead, the absolute coincidence of place of birth. If people are truly tired of entitlement, if they are sick and tired of people feeling they have a right to something, the first step is to throw open the borders and legalize all forms of immigration.
Say that at the next party you go to, and watch people shrivel in horror. Yes. Entitlement. We all feel like we are entitled to things, and the only entitlements that anybody has a problem with are those that don’t help them.
There is another, final aspect to this that goes unsaid. “Yet Liberals seem to think that everyone else owes them something.” I do think the government owes me something. I gave two years of service to the Peace Corps, I’ve paid taxes my entire life, I am part of the human capital that makes this country strong. By nature of being a part of this country, I also give up a portion of myself to this country. In return, I expect some benefits from the government. The government without the people is nothing. The people absolutely should expect things in return. The Right is opposed to big government, but to say “the government owes me nothing” is writing a blank check for oppression. The government owes us all something, and all of us need to keep that in mind, especially those who are opposed to government becoming too strong.