When did entitlement become a dirty word?

Those who earned it are entitled.

If I plunk down a $15 at a movie theatre, I have a realistic expectation that I am entitled to see a film. What I don’t bargain for is the insufferable amount of advertising that comes with it, but that’s another story.

The same goes when I push the lever on the gas pump, no matter what the price; I am entitled to receive fuel for my vehicle. In a sense, I am vested in the process. I give and I expect to receive.

For reasons I don’t quite understand, too many people disdainfully spit out the word “entitlement” when they refer to Social Security and Medicare. Nothing can be farther from the truth. People, myself included, have paid into Social Security and now that I am eligible, I receive benefits I have paid into since I held my first summer job at the age of 14.

The Social Security Act was signed into effect by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935. It was supposed to pay benefits to the worker who was making the contribution to the program. In 1939, the law was changed to add survivor benefits and benefits for retiree spouses and children.

Medicare began in 1966 and still isn’t free - at least to me. I continue to pay in $98.50 a month towards my medical care. I waited until I was 66 to collect social security, the legal age when I would receive my maximum benefits. It was a conscious decision and I am glad I was able to juggle until I chose to collect.

Merriam-Webster.com defines entitlement as:

"1: a  the state or condition of being entitled : right b : a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract

"2: a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group; also : funds supporting or distributed by such a program

"3: belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges."

I looked for a definition to describe what it would be called when the federal government continues to dip into the social security fund and not repay it. No term was forthcoming. My description: “taking.”

So, entitlement is a right or realistic expectation and that goes to me and 70 million other people in the United States who expect to receive a Social Security check on August 3, 2011.

I am not entitled to my house, although I hold title but until I finish paying off my mortgage, my house is owned by Wells Fargo Bank and I am entitled to stay there as long as I continue to make timely payments.

For many years when my earnings were higher, I contributed to organizations whose missions I respected. Badly as I feel, I have had to make drastic cuts to my discretionary spending as my income has flat lined. I do my best to support the local organizations who try to take up the slack for those in need.

So after the mortgage payment, property taxes, gas and electric, insurance and homeowner’s fees, to name a few, I purchase food for me and the two pooches I have chosen to adopt. If after I have shelled out this amount of money I have anything left, I am entitled to purchase gas for my car and spend what I have left.

Those who know me are well aware that I take a deep interest in politics. I am also registered to vote as “Decline to State” – as I wish to vote on one’s platform and ability to get a job done rather than which political party they support.

The fact is there’s plenty of blame to go around in the two major parties as well as the up and comers. FIX IT - that’s why we elected you and if you don’t, we will keep voting people in and out until our electeds remember who they represent.

Meanwhile, I feel entitled to receive my Social Security check!

Vince July 15, 2011 at 02:36 AM
I will tell you just when it morphed into a dirty word---when it changed from the original intent to add a certain measure of SECURITY for AMERICAN'S when they .reached their "Golden Years". ILLEGAL Aliens (and plenty of other's who just may not truly be "entitled", legal, or not) have somehow become "entitled" to receiving benefits under both those programs, and that WITHOUT having ever paid anything into them. So Ma'am, not only is the word's use "definition" dirty, it is foul, vile, disgusting, and waaaaay beyond comprehension in it's NEW intent. You did ask didn't you?
Gail Paparian July 15, 2011 at 04:39 AM
Since this article has been posted, I have received many (private) emails. Truthfully, everyone who reads a column, editorial or Internet post is not likely to respond; while they may be impacted. Too many people remain silent when it comes to important issues. The silent majority remains silent and the squeaky wheel continues to get oiled. There are people who are entitled/have earned their right to receive Social Security and Medicare. Then there are others....
Cindy M July 15, 2011 at 05:00 AM
Thank you Gail, The article you wrote is very true, my mother after working her buns off since the age of 15 has finally reached the age to receive her social security. She was a hard worker all of her life and I've never known a time of lapse in her working to support me her only child. Now at the time in her life when she should be able to sit back and enjoy not working it angers me that next month she as well as many other senior citizens may not get their checks. It's not fair, right or justified. They took from hers and yours and millions of others checks to ensure this "RIGHT". I hope it gets worked out. Thankfully my mother is well taken care of by my husband and myself and she lives with us,she does not have to worry about losing a home or paying for meds..We will just pray this all works out.
Vince July 15, 2011 at 06:24 PM
I have been patiently waiting for someone, ANYONE, to counter that "Illegal's can't POSSIBLY get on the SS Benefit Rolls"...or sneak into The Medicare Program. Many politician's, more mindful of pandering for votes (either legal, or illegal), are doing their best to insure they can, and will be eligible...and "oversight", or the lack thereof, is their preferred methodology to facilitate just that, for now. And that, regardless the impact on those who EARNED the distinction of having a viable right to those so called "entitlements"... The "ends" justify the "means" in their minds, just so long as they are left in a position to Lord (via The Dope Vote) over those whom they consider to be nothing beyond pawns set in place to further their careers, and future aspirations. We are fast being propelled, at The Federal, and State level, to a point whereas there will be NO digging ourselves back out, no matter how much money these scoundrels/charlatan's take away from the so called "Rich"---be it small businesses, corporation's, or indviduals in their sight picture...and then to redistribute it to the so called "needy"----and yet, on closer inspection it becomes very apparent that there are no winners, only losers in their scheme, since the "needy" are also dragged down in the vortex formed by the sinking "rich". It is a situation that will continue to deteriorate, thanks to so many people blind to the reality of what is really coming down the pike...by design.
Mac July 16, 2011 at 06:37 AM
Couldn't the argument also be made, "The hand that gives is entitled to take it away"? It is the right thing to do to pay the promised return on previous investments, but 90% of 'entitlements' in our country take on Webster's third listed definition. You are not, in fact, entitled to anything just because you pay for it. The beauty of capitalism is that you don't have to purchase a certain thing twice or thrice if it was insufficient the first time around. When we head down the road of entitlement we find failing systems that "bet" on future revenues to pay for current benefits....which is a snowball of spending beyond its means--ultimately ending in disaster for certain people that have paid into it. Social Security should absolutely be privatized. Somehow our politicians need to make good on the promises made to our citizens without defaulting or massive amounts of borrowing. There should be a transitional period to ween us all of the massive teet of government entitlements. (IMHO) Nice read, Gail. My question about Social Security benefits and entitlements to you: "Am I entitled to Social Security benefits if I lose my eyesight and/or seriously disabled at 35?" After all, I did pay into the system.....but just because I can no longer earn decent wages should the taxpayer and/or Social Security administration foot the bill because I am 'entitled' to benefits?
Diego Rose July 16, 2011 at 05:27 PM
I find it interesting that peoples involvement is gauged on how their pocket book is affected. It seems your "belief" is you are entitled to SS payments because you have paid into it. As much as I agree, what else have you contributed to the said program over the years by electing members of government into office? How have you contributed your voice as they borrowed against your SS? I havn't heard cry's of "foul" until the threat of reduction of payment is brought up. Why do you not "contribute" to SS by being a "vested" participant as you do while getting gas? This is a type of apathy that is pervasive in this country! I tend to look at the big picture. I believe you get what you pay for. The apathetic American public only "pays" attention when the threats are impending. The debt ceiling fear mongering is a tactic to redistribute money to those in power. We owe China approximately 1 trillion dollars. The majority of our debt is owed to the fereral reserve!! All money put into our economy is done so with interest! We owe a private bank, that gets to make interest rates, and market adjustments in order to "help stabilize" our economy. Now, you as a American, of any party, have another opportunity to contribute to your Social Security, freedom, and pursuit of happiness! How will you contribute now? Silently and apathetically or verbally and consciously? I prefer people care about things before they get distorted, but it seems they wait until they feel "entitiled".
Vince July 16, 2011 at 09:21 PM
AND...most people DO NOT realize that The Federal Reserve is a PRIVATE organization, and the "Federal" is in there just to give folks the idea (comfort by slight of hand!) that it is "by Government, for We The People"---and they print "money" on demand, without anything to back it up---and so we are paying those folks interest for the luxury of having their phony, baloney, worth NOTHING currency burning a hole in our pockets...THEY, and other BIG banking concerns across the globe manipulate the markets, and so the economic "ebb and flows" occur thanks to THEIR manipulation, and that dictates how much more of "We The People" they will own after each each: EBB--- 'Course, after they "EBB us to death", the housing market as a good example: They get Real Property back in default, but they will eventually sell us back the homes, at a premium of course, only to run prices into the ground to crash them again in the future---to then get 'em back on the CHEAP, and sell 'em to us at a premium once again---And this to continue the cycle, on into eternity---They do indeed run the ultimate Ponzi Scheme! Obama is EYEBALLS deep in this scam, along with most ALL politician's, regardless their claimed Party Affiliation---and trust me, our Next Stop IS going to be as a member of The One World Government, with the Big Money continuing to run The Show, and then with a much easier to control world population...me paranoid? Naw....just a realist.
Vince July 16, 2011 at 09:30 PM
Oh...and if ya got a few minutes to kill, Google up: "The Banker's Manifesto of 1892", which pretty much outlined The Master Plan that is still in effect today---and I like to refer to the "players" behind it as: "The Money Changers"....of a latter day.
Roger Jackson July 16, 2011 at 10:54 PM
If you purchased a ticket for something, then you are "entitled" to get the goods/service for which you paid. The "entitlements" under question these days are ones for which weren't earned. These do not include Social Security and Medicare. We pay for these programs and can rightfully expect to receive proper benefits. However, America seems to be following failed European examples of government taking care of just about everyone's wants and needs without those on the receiving end contributing to those programs. Those sometimes called socialist programs as favored by the liberal/progressives in America, just don't work over the long haul as Europe is proving in nation after nation. Instead of learning from failed programs, our liberal/progressive friends are trying to run our country down that same failed road. The conservative political philosophy is for everyone to at least try to stand on their own two feet to make a success of themselves, with the government only stepping in to help those who really can't make it on their own. That number shouldn't be approaching 50 percent of the population as it is doing today. We can do better as a nation and our government needs to back off and let Americans make it on their own, except for those who really can't. Only then should the government step in to lend a helping hand. Conservatives tend to believe that the vast majority of Americans can make it if given a chance. So many liberals/progressives think must less of Americans.
Vince July 16, 2011 at 11:30 PM
Charles: "Liberals/Progressives', "Conservatves/Right Wingers", "Rich/Poor", "Republicans/Democrats", "Black, or Brown, or Yellow, or Red, and of course White"--ALL of these designations, by design, have been created as a useful tool, and the flames kept stoked between these designations are keeping them at odds. AND the results are on, and WITH purpose. As you may have heard or realize, the ol' Divide and Conquer Theory of beating opponents does work very well, and as you may also realize, a United Population, is a VERY DANGEROUS population to those intent on keeping said population under their thumb, rule, and total control. Too many people fall right into that particular trap, follow the lead given on differences, and dance to the tune of those playing it--and we have been being LED with success for a good long time, evidenced by ALL the division's, slowly but surely taking this country down...among other things at work with the same intention. Hyphenated Names, such as "African-American", etc., are a great example--they illustrate on MANY levels the differences inherent, and are absolutely NOT set forth as a way to give someone "racial pride"---they are in place, by design, to forever remind those tagged with a hyphen, OF the differences--Why not just simply "AMERICAN'S", period? Why Charles, that right there could lead to a movement towards UNITING us all under ONE banner, and THAT will never do for those who want to keep us divided; and at odds...
Mac July 16, 2011 at 11:34 PM
"Freedom is NOT Free." This goes far beyond war but should resonate as an ongoing battle of pursuing justice throughout our society. Unfortunately, most of us rely on supposed 'watchdog' organizations to investigate for us--most watchdog organizations are really only watching out for themselves. I don't think politics should consume our daily lives....I also don't believe Senators, House Reps, and most governmental leaders should be "FULL-TIME politicians". Our founders worked for their living but were compensated for their additional civic responsibilities for which they were elected. Allowing our politicians to spend that much time to set fiscal and other policies means they start INVENTING things that need to be fixed. Social Security, Social Healthcare, and Politician's salaries should all be seriously scrutinized and brought into balance. Should our politicians be entitled to outrageous salaries, benefits, and insane retirements.....just because they purchased enough TV, Radio, and Billboard space to get the job? I don't think so! Down with entitlements!
Roger Jackson July 16, 2011 at 11:41 PM
We American citizens are all under one banner -- Americans. We do have our differences, especially when it comes to political idiology. I am a conservative who embraces conservative values while know many who when it comes to politics embrace the liberal/progresssive idiology. We all want a better America, but we just happen to disagree on the road our nation needs to take. That's all. Lets embrace our unity as Americans but let's also embrace our diversity. That is what has made America so great, that despite, or in my opinion because of our diversity, we Americans still believe we are a special nation that has accomplished special things and so many good things in the world since our little "experiment" was started by some wonderful individuals who we now call our Founding Fathers. We American citizens are united one one banner as Americans, but we also have our differences. I root for the Dodgers while some other person may cheer for the Padres or the Angels or even the Yankees. We are still baseball fans, however. I take great pride in being an American because I choose to be. I was born here, which made be a citizen by birth, but I could certainly choose to move to another nation and become a citizen here. However, I choose not to make that choice but to remain an American citizen. I cherish our unity as Americans and our diversity which makes us greater. I just find the conservative idiology a better course than the liberal/progressive one. We can agree to disagree.
Diego Rose July 16, 2011 at 11:54 PM
"There is a power behind the throne, greater than the King himself", We the People!!!
Vince July 17, 2011 at 03:19 AM
Charles: Well, I am a Conservative, but one with eyes that are opening a tad more with each, and every passing day, and with each, and every new footprint on The U.S. Constitution. BOTH my grandfather's came to this country just as the 20th Centruy dawned, and both my grandfather's learned the customs, language, and I betcha dollars to donuts never, EVER displayed their Austrian, or Italian flags on their lawn, on their cars, or on T-Shirts---they became AMERICAN'S in every sense of the word, and embraced this country; it's traditions, as their own. So I lean to the Right, and Charles, once I had a Baptist Pastor tell me that I wasn't, and I paraphrase here: "Quite right for his congregation"...and that because, and now I quote directly here, but that was because, and these are his exact words: :"You are just a bit to the RIGHT of Atilla The Hun"....and trust me, I wasn't insulted by that, heck no, I was mighty proud!! But my belief system does not preclude me from seeing the writing on the wall...and here is a good little article from last year, that is still quite accurate, and timely TODAY: http://conservativedailynews.com/2010/07/obama-keynesian-economics-or-cloward-piven-strategy/ And I surely do believe fully that he hasn't been able to push this "mess" thus far, and will not be allowed to further this IDEAL without the help, even if it is simply by virtue of them "looking the other way", of The Republican Party, at ALL levels. Is what it is.
Roger Jackson July 19, 2011 at 03:36 PM
A good result of a good commentary is positive discussions and/or debates over the subject. Good job, Gail. You have got people talking about your original commentary.
Mac September 08, 2011 at 09:36 AM
Got caught up in some reading.....and found the following: (remembered this article and feel it's an appropriate follow-up) The Supreme Court has established that no one has any legal right to Social Security benefits. The Court decided, in Flemming v. Nestor (1960), that "entitlement to Social Security benefits is not a contractual right". In that case, Ephram Nestor, a Bulgarian immigrant to the United States who made contributions for covered wages for the statutorily required "quarters of coverage" was nonetheless denied benefits after being deported in 1956 for being a member of the Communist party.


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