Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Entitlement culture

To hear some people talk about Social Security, you'd think that the system is just dandy, in fact, you'd think that the largest influx of retirees in world history (let alone the U.S.) were about to flood the system. The reality, of course, is that Social Security is in a great deal of long-term trouble. The Democrats don't want to admit that the problem is a serious one (the osterich syndrome), and the Republicans don't want to go into too much detail about how serious the problem is for fear that the GOP will alienate a key constituency, since many older voters vote Republican (and they turn out to vote).

The other problem is the AARP, the country's largest lobbying group, which represents Americans 50 and older. To that organization's credit, they are truly non-partisan, caring only that both parties pay attention to the concerns of seasoned citizens. Since the Depression, our nation has created such an entitlement culture that there are very few of us who have not utilized some sort of government entitlement whether we realize that fact or not. We, as a people, believe that we are entitled, through our elected representatives, to vote ourselves largesse from the federal and state treasury. Bankruptcy of the state and economic collapse be damned, we want our check. The members of the AARP have been conditioned to accept the fact that they are entitled to a Social Security check each month, whether they have prepared for their retirement or not.

I don't want readers to take me wrong, here. I don't favor abolishing Social Security or getting rid of various and sundry programs. The only reason I don't favor this is because the entitlement culture has become so ingrained in the modern American psyche that it would take generations upon generations to wash away. People in this country need to realize that if you want something like Social Security or any other so-called entitlement, such things can only be maintained when both the government and the people practice fiscal responsibility. We cannot expect government to give us the best care when we are sick or old, because government will always do an inferior job in seeking to save a buck. If we as a people want the kind of social care that we say and believe that we deserve in America, then we ourselves must take the lead in providing that care for ourselves.


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