In reading history, we learn that each period becomes known by a particular impression that age left behind. For example to name just a few, we have the Age of Enlightment, the Renaissance, The Reconstruction Era, The Gilded Age, and The Progressive Era. I believe that our period of history will be known as the Age of Personal Entitlement.
Simply defined an entitlement is a guarantee of access to benefits based on established rights or by legislation. Typically, entitlements are laws based on concepts of principles which are themselves based on social equality or enfranchisement. In a casual sense the term entitlement refers to a notion or belief that one (or oneself) is deserving of some particular reward or benefit for whatever reason. We deserve it and want it!
As usual my purpose is not to criticize what we are doing but to make us think carefully about our current attitude towards entitlements. Is it a healthy one or will it slowly destroy us?
Let's examine a few of them. Of course, these are my personal viewpoints and perhaps you may not agree. How many local people-Chamorro and Carolinians-have paid for the land on which their houses are built? How did Koblerville and Kagman come about? Isn't this an entitlement? Yet despite the many years I have lived here, I have had to pay for my land and at best could only lease it for a period time. If I am incorrect, please correct me.
Government employment seems to be an entitlement in which the vast majority of locals feel they have a right. And of course our politians play it to the hilt. Vote for me and I will get you a government job. Wow!
Yes, there is a sprinkling of a few non-locals. But how many of the locals employed are truly competent and industrious? Note that the austerity period will be wiped out in a few weeks. How this will be done is a mystery to me when several other agencies are suffering financially. But then election time is only a few months away. But what about non-government employees? What is their entitlement?
Each month our food stamp recipients continue to grow which currently total about 11,000 to 12,000 with a cost of about $1,000,000 per month. Yet we have over 12,000 non-resident workers on island doing work which many of us could do. How is it that so many food stamp recipients settle for only a few hundred dollars a month when if they worked a full week they would receive at least $808 per month? In September the minimum wage will rise to $5.55 per hour or $888 or $888 month. Will this encourage more people to seek employment?
Even though we have been given a time limit to train a local force we still drag our feet screaming for an extension of that time. It is not that extra time is needed to train; our mental attitude towards work itself must change. If that doesn't happen, even a 100 years extension will not be enough. The vast majority of the work to be learned requires about 60 to 90 days of training. Of course, higher skills will require more time, but that is rare. The specialists can always come from the United States when we decide to pay them a decent wage.
Recently a splendid apartment building was built in Chalan Kanoa reserved for low income people. I don't know how many people reside there but it is available for the select few. If it were marketed to the general public, the rental would easily be at least $1,000 per month. But the rent is almost half. Check it out. It has all the latest amenities. Most of us wouldn't mind living there, but we are over-overqualified.
A lot of entitlements are given to us by the United States. And as we know the United States is fast losing its superiority. It has overspent itself to over $7 trillion and cannot stop the addiction. Look at what has happened to Medicaid. It is a good thing but has been abused until is no longer affordable by the government.
The plague called entitlements is sweeping across the United States and causing major problems. It is estimated that about 50 percent of the American people under 20 years of age at one time or another will use food stamps. Years ago about 1 percent of men doing hard labor complained of back problems and received government financial assistance because of inability to work. Today that figure of work disability is over 5 percent of the workforce. Yes, entitlements are great but additive!
Many thinking citizens feel that we are on the same path that led to the downfall for the old Roman Empire of the Caesars (and many subsequent empires also). The Romans came to the belief that every one of them had earned the right to a good life, as this was the undisputed entitlement of those who dominated the world.
They were asleep at the wheel when their poor neighbors conquered them. Entitlement is a curse that must be removed before it becomes our cancer. The word “greed” is repeatedly used next to social entitlement. I desire it and I want it no matter what!
The real entitlements I learned while in school were about the pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of liberty. Little was ever mentioned about entitlements concerning money. In fact the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is generally agreed to be the foundation of international human rights law. Adopted in 1948, the UDHR has inspired a rich body of legally binding international human rights treaties.
As we daily watch the violence being played out in the world, it is the people's desire to implement such human rights or entitlements. But we in the Western World are far beyond those poor people who are still struggling for mere basic human rights. We are imbued with a feeling of entitlements which are slowly beginning to destroy us.
I could go on with this discussion and never arrive at a meeting of the minds because we feel we are entitled to whatever we get. After all, others are doing it so why not me too. As long as we continue to listen to and accept the song that all political candidates sing: “You vote for me (or with me), I'll continue to give you things for free.”
Entitlements offer us instant gratification, but cause lasting damage, like overeating causes obesity with all its illnesses. I know we all have our own opinion on this subject but I hope I got you thinking about it. Don't be shocked when the roof caves in. As all problems are created by people, they have to be solved by people. But then isn't this the story of history-the ups and downs of its people? That's why it is called his-story.
Our great nation started hundreds of years ago with 'Freedom” as our national buzzword. I don't see much true Freedom today.do you? It has been replaced with the latest buzzword “entitlements” and can be bought and sold for a few votes.
Thank you for reading as far as you have. When we reach out for our next entitlement, remember we bought it. But despite it all, keep SMILING! Have a great week!