Let’s Be Honest About Entitlements

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(Photo by Melody Stader) 

Written by Ty Morton, local Muncie resident.
I frequently hear the word “entitlement” thrown around, especially lately, and its repetition has given me an insight.First of all, most people use the word incorrectly. The only actual entitlement programs provided by the government are Social Security and Medicare, and they are aptly named – you are literally entitled to them.When used to describe other public social programs, the term is used, at best, pejoratively. It is an allusion to an “entitlement mentality” in which people believe that they are due some assistance or service from the government.

The term has become synonymous with the left, particularly those in poverty. However, I have come to realize that it is actually the right that most often displays this mentality.

It sounds crazy I know, but hear me out.

In the past week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its employment numbers, showing unemployment at 7.8%. Immediately, there was skepticism, accusations of chicanery, and in the Vice-Presidential debate that followed, Congressman Ryan pretended it didn’t exist. In all of that furor, however, no one asked the most important question: In a capitalistic society, why is it up to the government to create jobs?

Once you let the question settle in for a moment, others follow. In a free market economy, why is its condition the responsibility of government? The federal reserve, a private institution, controls the currency. Business growth is driven by private investment and consumer spending. Isn’t the demand for government to “do something” really no different from asking for a welfare check?

When you think of it in those terms, it becomes apparent that the the true “entitlement mentality” is one in which a populace expects the government to steer the economy in such a way that it makes it easier for business owners to be successful. Moreover, it becomes a disclaimer of responsibility when businesses struggle or fail.

There is an argument to be made that policies and regulations can affect the ability for business to succeed, but most of those restrictive policies are safeguards against moral hazards – and we’ve seen first-hand the effects of their elimination. In the end, though, private business was doing pretty well in spite of taxes and regulations, most of which haven’t significantly changed. It was overreaching and mismanagement of risk that ultimately caused the collapse, and the onus for that falls squarely on private enterprise.

Just as we’re not “entitled” to welfare checks, food stamps, medicaid, and other forms of government support – despite the wisdom of ensuring that there is some form of safety net available to those that need it – we are also not “entitled” to jobs and economic growth, fueled by government action.

We’re either responsible for our collective success or failure, or we’re not.

We need to stop trying to have it both ways.


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Various authors from around the world whose mission of truth seeking aligns with Muncie Voice.

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