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Friday, January 4, 2013

Entitlements and Who Spends "da money"

Sometimes I just don't get how people say things over and over again that are just so misleading, and by people I mean people in the news- politicians etc... then I hear them repeated, and then I hear these things as points by some people when they try to participate in a conversation about current events.

I want to keep this short I really only have a couple things I want to highlight/talk about...


Very briefly... "entitlements" is such an inaccurate word to throw around. actually includes the following as one of the definitions of "entitlement:"

the right to guaranteed benefits under a government program, as Social Security or unemployment compensation.
I guess this is basically okay.  To say that people have a right to something that is guaranteed by the terms of its very nature is simple logic.  Let me try to be very clear here and use an example that is not a highly discussed "entitlement program..."  Let's say you live in town with a public park.  For purposes of this example- the park is on government property, is managed by the government, and is funded by the government.  People including you pay taxes to the government so they can maintain, manage, and operate the park.  So really the park is funded by you and other people.  Very simply- without getting into more detail of what I mean when I say "public park..." you are entitled to use the park.  Speaking generically- there is a government "program" in place to collect money to run the park, and offer the park for use by the people.  The people are entitled to use it by the simple virtue that it is a public park.

This is not that controversial.  And it doesn't at all sound like you are getting something special or mooching something away from the government or your fellow citizens, or other taxpayers.  And maybe some people use the park, but they don't pay taxes... or they don't pay as much as you.  Some people don't use the park at all, but they pay much more in taxes than you.  It is not controversial that everyone is entitled to use the park- because it is a public park.

Now this metaphor is not meant to serve as a different way of talking about some of the "entitlement programs" that people like to vilify the use of, and talk incessantly about reducing the cost or nature of, it is simply to thoroughly demonstrate that you are entitled to use the park, and being entitled to something is not a bad thing AND it does not mean that it is free!   Sure it is free for some people, but it is much cheaper for you than having a giant backyard, and there are those people that don't even use it.

So when you hear the word entitlement used in the news or in a conversation you are involved in, please stop and think about what the word entitlement means, and think about how (or if you don't know how please research how) the program or topic at hand actually qualifies as being called an entitlement.  You will learn a lot more about the topic/program and you may have some moments of epiphany.

Right now people use this word as though  it is to lend an extra description to the topic as something people get as something they really shouldn't be getting or are getting for nothing.  This is not the case.  It is also implied in many contexts that the topic described as an entitlement is something "people expect coming to them beyond what should be reasonably expected."  This is not the case either.  People are expecting that they receive from a system what the system promises by its very design.  It is okay to believe that the system should change and work for that change, but it is not sincere to say that the system should change because people use it- because people are "entitled" to use it.  This is nonsense.


With the looming debt ceiling again being tossed around by the GOP as tactic to scare the American people and frankly the world, (and they can act as irresponsibly or scary as they want it is fine by me) I am very aggravated with all the rhetoric that they are using to attach spending habits to the office of the president.  When the President discussed that the debt ceiling be eliminated, I will go so far as to call this a crafty maneuver (maybe a reasonable maneuver) to enhance the government's ability to get work done, and not waste a lot of time arguing about the debt ceiling (and yes taking away a bargaining chip from the people he does not agree with, that he would probably argue is a chip used irresponsible).  He was not asking for a blank check so that he could go spend spend spend!

But this is what many in the GOP are saying and it is thoroughly misleading and even dodges responsibility.  I say this for two reasons: first- The President does not spend money congress does, and second- whenever the congress votes to increase the debt ceiling, and I love this part- all they are saying is that they will continue to pay for what THEY have already spent.  The combination of these two, and the net hypocrisy is beyond belief.  What the essentially saying is "The President who actually does not spend money, wants a blank check to spend money even though he can't spend money- and we are going to stop him by not agreeing to continue to pay for what we spent."  Man that is... "a bunch of stuff" isn't it?

This really gets to the constitution... and I will let you read about that part of the constitution for yourself here: Wikipedia: Taxing and Spending Clause   Though where the power to spend money lies is implicit- we all should know how the system effectively does work now- the congress does the spending.  I am sure there are probably actions and debate that can be brought up and had on this.  I want to be sure you know that I am aware of this, I invite it, I could learn more, and I am not offering this piece as a certainty.


The point is- put extra effort into listening to what you hear.  Take extra time to think about simple things.  When people are calling something an entitlement, and suggesting it is evil because it is an entitlement (or in some cases that the people who use it are, well... of bad character) think about that program or topic a little bit more, and think about what "entitlement" means.

When lofty statements are made on either side of the aisle (like "The President wants a blank check") have curiosity.  Listen to those statements and go research for yourself.  Many sources of information and news are biased... unfortunately you have to do the heavy lifting to stay responsibly informed.

I feel this entry achieves more closely what I would like to do with this forum- point out more generics and offer something that is useful regardless of what side of the aisle you are on.  All feedback is welcome.

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