Feb 28, 2009

Scary Sense of Entitlement & American Attitude

This entry has been percolating for a while, and I only hope that some of this diatribe comes across with a sense of clarity (if it does, tell me, because I am in a fog [that is for you Dana :o)].

During the Presidential Election, I had to do a lot of soul searching. I am a life long republican, and still believe in the previous core tenets of market based economics, smaller government, and letting the states and local governments figure out what is best for their constituents. While those philosophies and values work when the playing field is level, the huge economic recession that occurred in the 4th quarter of 2008 changed everything. So I voted for President Obama, although most of my other picks, especially locally, remained republican.

As the last couple of months have unfolded, I have become more and more concerned about the growing trend of entitlement in America. Whether the topic of discussion is welfare, poverty, education, highways, energy policy, unemployment benefits, health care reform, water rights, or any other current issue, there seems to be a growing sentiment among all Americans: “You owe it to me!”. Somewhere along the way we have transitioned from a pull yourself up by your bootstraps mentality, and developed the idea that, work or not, we deserve to have the American dream.

One of the biggest problems with this new entitlement mentality is that it is not sustainable. Debt comes due too quickly. High paying jobs are hard to come by quickly and often require higher education. Poor planning and living paycheck to paycheck can make a small problem quickly become a financial crisis. However, instead of recognizing these realities, we provide a list of excuses. Eventually the tab will come due and if it’s not this generation it will be the next. We would do well to remember the reasons for the establishment of our independence and let that motivate us to once again liberate ourselves from debt, vice and cling to honesty hard work and virtue.

Our government is leading us by example, and I don't mean that in a good way. For years, it has spent us into oblivion, mortgaging our future for programs we can't afford, and Americans have happily followed suit, running up credit card bills and home equity loans for things they never should have bought. Unfortunately, we're also learning something else from our government: how to avoid taking responsibility for our actions.

Now, with the new Administration, when there has been a clear mandate for change, and we are in the most dire straights since the great depression, we are entrenching even more into partisan politics. The Democrats are being accused as verging on socialism, and the huge stimulus plan and 10 year budget plan that relies on at least 4% growth in 2010 and beyond, to get us back to $500 billion deficits, is not helping deter that charge. On the flip side, the Republicans have apparently decided to ignore the past eight years and the contributions that their leadership, and lack of leadership, have made to the current crisis. The elimination of oversight and regulations on the banking and investment community, coupled with the war in Iraq, back to back dot.com and housing bubbles and subsequent bursts, have wreaked havoc with our economy. This has painted the Republicans as out of touch and irrelevant. Thinking back to Rodney King, I ask, "Why can't we all just get along?"

Americans have become disenfranchised because after working hard to support their families and to raise kids who understand the difference between right and wrong, their leaders do exactly the opposite. While I support eliminating the tax cuts that were enacted under the Bush administration, I abhor the philosophy that encourages the position where wealth is vilified. This only provides an opportunity to remove the incentive for any of us to work hard to get ahead. Would we feel better if the government was our answer for everything?

If both parties would focus on the common good, and meet in the middle, I think we could, as a country, as a community, and as individuals, dig ourselves out of this mess we have made for ourselves.


  1. Great post, we have the same issue here


  2. We are all going to have to work together. I don't know of any other way for sure. Lots of people are having to rethink their lifestyles and cannot figure out where they went wrong. Economics are a mystery to a mass majority of young Americans. I pray alot.

  3. This is a pretty good ramble. The thing about 'entitlement', is that because some of the greatest social movements have made people who reaped the benefits of those changes, 'fat'.

    Now the question of sacrifice is a difficult concept, as we have 'been in the lead' for so long, globally. Struggle has been taken away for so long, the collective egos in our country think that just being whatever they are, as long as it was American, it meant that they would have access to the milk of life.

    Material wealth has become the standard that measures self worth. I don't think that the 'greed is good' era ever really went away. The risks in the finacial systems, the rush to make as much money as possible led to the Enron's and the current problems, and they ignored the just as pressing social problems that affect our country.

    We need to redefine merit and find ways to be more supportive of one another as human and as well as Americans.

  4. Your last paragraph said it all for me darling!

    Hugs, Rose

  5. Ken, I can't tell you how much I appreciate this post. I'm so tired of hearing political rants (from either side!). You spoke your mind and your heart without resorting to name calling and insults. I don't have any answers, but I sure would put you into office somewhere! I'll buy the first button!

  6. I agree with you, Ken, especially your last couple sentences. Americans also need to start learning to just spend 100% or less of what they make and not 107% or more and be content with what they have; perhaps even being content spending 80%, saving 10% and giving 10% away to a worthy cause.

    enjoy your Sunday


  7. It is a topic that makes many people uncomfortable. I notice the more uncomfortable someone is, the more they tend to bend the truth. My ex-bf says that one of my problems is I really listen to what people say, so that when they change their story, I actually realize it while some others do not.

    When I do listen & do hear what others are saying many want sacrifice to be the OTHER GUY'S sacrifice. That will not be how they state it when being asked directly, but in casual conversation, it comes out. When they do not feel threatened or do not feel as if they have to make their public political point, it comes out. I am not saying all people are like this, but the numbers that are, if extrapolated out.....it cannot be sustained. I've had people tell me that if they worked they could not nap during the day or watch their favorite tv programs. Others say that disability with small under the table jobs pays better than working. Is this most people? Certainly not. But as it becomes MORE people instead of the small few, we can't sustain it.

    A couple of people, those I know in a casual sense both used the exact same words & same tone when I said I wasn't working: Ride out the unemployment, why not?
    1)I'm not on unemployment or anything else, I am supporting myself with past savings & investments.
    2) I don't ever consider riding anything out in such a manner. It is actually repulsive to me. I am a big believer in personal responsibility. Not just for others, for ME.


Tell Me What You Think, Don't Make me go Rogue on you :o)