Ph.D. Octopus

Politics, media, music, capitalism, scholarship, and ephemera since 2010

The Term “Entitlement” is Orwellian Bullshit

with 4 comments

by Weiner

I thought Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech was ok. But in reading Ross Douthat’s response to it, I was reminded of something that annoys me to no end. Douthat has been skewered here before, but he’s certainly not the only one guilty of this. The supposedly smart (though not according to Paul Krugman) Paul Ryan also attacked American “entitlement” programs, like Obama’s new Affordable Care Act.

This drives me nuts.

The term “entitlement” in American political discourse is Orwellian bullshit. It has unnecessarily negative connotations. We often talk of people being spoiled, of having a “sense of entitlement” that they don’t deserve. People feel “entitled” to things that they didn’t work for, or pay for, or earn.

But there is nothing undeserving about healthcare. Or social security. Or roads, police forces, fire departments, public schools, and the postal service. These are things the American people pay for through taxes (like people of most other countries). They are not being spoiled. They are getting what they deserve (actually, they’re probably not getting enough of what they justly deserve, but that’s another story).

You go to a store, you pay for a chocolate bar, and you get the chocolate bar. It’s not that you’re “entitled” to it in some spoiled child way. You are not undeserving of that chocolate bar. You paid for it. It belongs to you. Free market capitalists should understand this.

Let’s get rid of “entitlement” and change it to “benefit.” Or something more positive. Because the American people are in fact entitled to more than they are getting.

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Written by David Weinfeld

January 26, 2011 at 08:29

4 Responses

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  1. Well said!

    Wiz

    January 26, 2011 at 09:38

  2. First, as you must be aware, they are called “entitlements” because all eligible comers are guaranteed a benefit, as opposed to programs that are limited to specific appropriations.

    What’s “Orwellian bullshit” is the notion that you’re “entitled” to make other people buy you stuff.

    j.a.m.

    March 11, 2012 at 21:43

    • @j.a.m. you’re either a billionaire or easily fooled. read a book some time, amigo!
      how bout those who feel entitled to $10billion USD bank bailouts, yet socially engineer and fool people like yourself into believing that unemployment insurance or healthcare is bankrupting our nation?
      phew! you’re a piece of work!

      Dystopian Nightmare

      February 21, 2013 at 23:35

  3. I have been looking for the root cause of this myself, but I believe it stems from ignorance and hatred. The connotation on the term “entitlement” that I have actually observed was entirely racist and directed specifically towards African-Americans. In public they used terms like “entitlement” and other propaganda to hide and disguise their racism, while in private they admitted they were referring only to blacks (though they used the n-word). So, as a middle-class white person I asked them if I fit the profile of what they called “entitled” and was I a target of their propaganda? They said, no of course not and explained they were referring to blacks and minorities… generally the less fortonate and those on welfare. Whatever their meaning or who the ‘targets’ are for their propaganda, it seems ignorance and hatred is at the root… well, that and Fox News.

    Joe Public

    February 8, 2014 at 19:03


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