by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
One of these words is “entitlement.” To hear some politicians tell it, we are all entitled to all sorts of things, ranging from “affordable housing” to “a living wage.”
But the reality is that the human race is not entitled to anything, not even the food we need to stay alive. If we don’t produce food, we are just going to starve. If we don’t build housing, then we are not going to have housing, “affordable” or otherwise.
Particular individuals or groups can be given many things, to which politicians say they are “entitled,” only if other people are forced by the government to provide those things to people who don’t need to lift a finger to earn them. All the fancy talk about “entitlement” means simply forcing some people to work to produce things for other people, who have no obligation to work.
It gets worse. If we are all “entitled” to things, irrespective of whether we produce anything ourselves, then the question becomes: Why are some people getting so much more than others?
People who are producing nothing can feel a sense of grievance against those who are producing much, and being rewarded for it, if our basis for receiving economic benefits is supposed to be what we are all “entitled” to, rather than what we have worked to earn.
One of the most misleading uses of the notion of entitlement is to say that people who paid into Social Security for years are now entitled to the pensions they receive.
Really? It so happens that I have put money into the same bank account for more than 20 years. But if I were to write a check for a million dollars today, it would bounce! The question is not how long you have been putting money in, but how much money you put in.