Thoughts on entitlements

Published Mar 10, 2017 at 4:00pm

The words “entitled” and “entitlements” are political mirrors that reflect wants. In America, citizens are not so much entitled to a free lunch as entitled to work for their lunch and for other benefits.

The Constitution is specific and limited. The Constitution prohibits the government from treating people unequally under the law and provides for common defense and general welfare for all citizens as a group. Beyond that, people are entitled to compete for what jobs are available, where those jobs are available.

What they earn can be used for any legal enterprise including providing basics for themselves and their families. They then are entitled to the satisfaction of knowing that they have contributed to the best of their ability to pay for basics like food, shelter, health care, and education.

Rather than “entitlements,” Congress should call what people ask for by the more accurate name: “wants.” “Wants” should be handled accordingly. They might include:

• One example of a worthwhile project that is not an entitlement might be transition funds to support and retrain people moving from one job to another. Welfare, as a lifelong entitlement, has no future.

• Another example would be developing the capacity of disabled people to become self-supporting to the best of their ability. Everyone should be able to take pride in personal contributions.

• People are not entitled to use government to achieve free access to the earnings of others.

• People are not entitled to claim the savings of those who prepare for their old age, but who die before spending it. People have no real claim when those that die bequeath the savings that remain to their children, to others, or to charities of one’s choosing.

Government governs best when it encourages individual success that opens up individual choice.

The word “entitlement” muddies so much:

• When government considers health insurance for catastrophic emergencies, others try to turn it into health care of every cut, scrape, and sniffle.

• When government chooses to offer schooling, it often tries to build indoctrination into it.

Encouraging financial independence to individuals and families offers more liberty and opportunity than any so-called “entitlement”. Let’s work toward that.