Let’s Eliminate Entitlements (Not!)


2014-05-29 – We hear a lot about Republican attacks on entitlements. What is it about entitlements that have them so in a huff.

An entitlement is wealth that you own. I don’t think they have a beef with that, but you never know. You have a title to your car. You have title to your house. You are “entitled.” Entitled ownership is protected by the Constitution. The government can’t take it away from you without due process and without paying you for it.

You own your car, not because of the car-i-ness of it, and you own your house, not because of the house-i-ness of it. You own your car and your house because you are entitled. This means that the government recognizes your ownership and will protect it. As a result, most (but not all) people recognize it as well.

Until you don’t pay some debt that is secured by the title.

Of course, there are other titles of ownership. There are bank accounts and shares of corporate stock. There are rights you have earned in pension plans. And there are rights you have earned in government programs like Social Security.

Just like your house, you worked to gain rights in your pension plan or Social Security. But unlike your house, someone other than you mortgaged it.

Republicans who are supposedly against entitlements are strong supporters of car entitlement and house entitlement and even corporate entitlement. Their beef is with entitlements held by pension plans and governments. They have participated in voting for budgets and the state and federal level that compromised your entitlement and now that retirees are coming to ask for their pensions, they say:

“Who do you think you are? You are so entitled!”

Well, yeah! Give me my money. It’s my money. I earned it.

Sound familiar? It’s the phrase they use to rail against taxes. It’s my money, I earned it, so don’t tax it.

Well, my pension is my money, I earned it. Don’t take it away. I am entitled. If you think you are entitled to your corporate stock, you are entitled. I am entitled to my pension in exactly the same way.

This is not a battle over theories of capitalism versus theories of socialism or whatever. This is a battle between people who own houses and stocks and bond versus people who own houses and pensions.

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