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Old 02-28-2011, 11:21 PM   #1
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The entitlement mentality is killing us…

The title says it all. I believe the sense of entitlement that a growing number of people have come to have over recent decades is slowly killing America and other western countries. This issue is one that has been championed by political conservatives and while they are right on many accounts they don’t seem to understand that they are just as much a cause of the problem as those on the left.

I’ll start by acknowledging, as I said, that conservatives are right on many accounts: America does seem to have too many people who expect others to take care of them and provide them with the good life simply “because” with out any regard as to whether they are actually contributing anything in return. This includes people such unionized public transit workers in the city where I live who make 50-100 thousand dollars a year for low skilled work and get generous pensions and who still manage to find something to gripe about every couple years that causes them to go on strike. It includes people who make poor decisions such as getting pregnant at 16 and then expecting society to take care of them by footing the cost of their welfare checks. It also includes those in the middle class who simply feel “I deserve” to go on a vacation to a 5 star resort or to live in a half a million dollar home simply because I know other people have these things and I deserve to have things as nice as what anyone else has because to not have it would be “unfair”. It is this latter example that played a part in the recent financial meltdown. So to all conservatives out there…I admit it, you are right!

The problem is that the issue is much deeper and more widespread than conservatives seem to understand. In fact, as the left correctly points out, they are guilty of these same sins! Those who are among the wealthiest of society are know longer content unless they are continually aquirring more and more wealth. They seek to continually alter the rules of the game so that it allows them to have a larger, and larger piece of the pie simply because they feel “they deserve it” or “they are societies best” regardless of whether their actions (cutting taxes for the top 1% and social programs for the lower and middle classes, outsourcing…etc..) hurt families who are working just as hard as they are and deserve to at least have a decent standard of living. This also ties in directly to what was mentioned in the previous paragraph about the real estate market. Members of the lower and middle classes may have bought houses they knew they couldn’t afford but greedy rich bankers on wall street were all too eager to help them along since doing so would bring them more wealth. Finally, just look at CEO compensation. 40 or 50 years ago it was 25 to 50 times that of the average worker and now it’s several hundred times as much. In order for this to be truly justified, are CEO really being that much more productive relative to their employees now versus then? Or put another way, have workers become that much more unproductive relative to CEOs? - No. quite the opposite is true. Worker productivity has soared since the early ‘70s despite the fact that relative wages have more or less stagnated.

The point is that both sides are to blame and it irks me when conservatives site the problem of “entitlement mentality” is being associated exclusively with liberalism and that if we did things their way America would be great again. Sorry, no deal. 8 years under Bush conservatism was entitlement mentality at its worst. I don’t think we’ve ever had a political leader who felt more entitled than he did to do pretty much whatever he damn well pleased regardless of what others think as long as it made him, his buddies and others in the upper classes richer. I think the best way to conclude this would be to say when it comes to this issue and the two ends of the political spectrum each side is guilty of what the other side says about them. And until we move beyond petty bickering and truly realize what what the essence of most of our problems is (we feel we deserve more than we are willing to work or pay for) America is going nowhere fast no matter who’s running the country.
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Old 03-01-2011, 11:14 AM   #2
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the real problem is our aging society.
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Old 03-01-2011, 12:06 PM   #3
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Social democrat here so I can't help the original poster at all.

Talk show host Dan Carlin brought up an interesting observation in his last program. After WWII, England saw the writing on the wall geopolitically, saw that they wouldn't be able to maintain their military power from the 18th and 19th century, and came up with a new plan for a smaller, more agile combat force. They didn't have the big postwar economic boom that the US had, and the 60s and 70s were not that fun for England. That said, they made it through and are a good country today.

The United States, it seems, it still living with a Cold War mentality, except now the Ruskies have been replaced by Ahmed the Terrorist. Whatever opposing force is needed to keep the military industrial complex going.

It's not just the huge defence spending. Your well-meaning but politically moronic parents who might call Obama a socialist after he gives out one of the biggest care packages to private insurers; these are the people bothering to vote these days? Really?

And to think in the post Cold War 90s we were worried about Kennedy-esque BJs in the White House....man those days seem nostalgic now don't they?

So who ruined the party? Are Americans really going to give the victory to Osama Bin Laden? Judging what the U.S. has become in the 00s (mainly "despicable"), it seems like the government and a large segment of the population has indeed given him exactly what he wanted, and probably more.

It seems we're trying to keep this huge, hollow, starving 20th century version of America propped up into the 2020s, whether it be clinging to the Communist Boogieman, clinging to Social Security, clinging to the Military Industrial Complex. And it's obviously not working. As the baby boomers retire we'll really begin to see a nation in decline.
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Old 03-01-2011, 12:13 PM   #4
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i was about to jump in and say i was right there with ya on the thread title alone, but then i read your post.
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Old 03-01-2011, 12:32 PM   #5
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the real problem is our aging society.
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Old 03-01-2011, 06:47 PM   #6
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yes, that is indeed a problem and something has to give as we have more people that will be withdrawing from the system than paying into it. The problem is no one is willing to give up anything as everyone feels completely entitled to what they think they deserve.

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the real problem is our aging society.
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Old 03-01-2011, 06:48 PM   #7
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and?

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i was about to jump in and say i was right there with ya on the thread title alone, but then i read your post.
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Old 03-01-2011, 07:30 PM   #8
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I agree with much of the OP and have proclaimed in similar note previously. Blaming 16 year olds for getting pregnant is a bit harsh, however, it's more the society that enables that behaviour. In Scandinavian countries, CEO's only earn typically 5-10 times the average employee salary. So, even the US CEO compensation standards of the 1970s would be deemed excessive.
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Old 03-01-2011, 07:46 PM   #9
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From Dallas News


Friday, August 21, 2009

Steven Malanga

In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville worried that free, capitalist societies might develop so great a "taste for physical gratification" that citizens would be "carried away and lose all self-restraint." Avidly seeking personal gain, they could "lose sight of the close connection which exists between the private fortune of each of them and the prosperity of all" and ultimately undermine both democracy and prosperity.

The genius of America in the early 19th century, Tocqueville thought, was that it pursued "productive industry" without a descent into lethal materialism. Behind America's balancing act, the pioneering French social thinker noted, lay a common set of civic virtues that celebrated not merely hard work but also thrift, integrity, self-reliance and modesty – virtues that grew out of the pervasiveness of religion.

Some 75 years later, sociologist Max Weber dubbed the qualities that Tocqueville observed the "Protestant ethic" and considered them the cornerstone of successful capitalism. Like Tocqueville, Weber saw that ethic most fully realized in America, where it pervaded the society. Preached by luminaries like Benjamin Franklin, taught in public schools, embodied in popular novels, repeated in self-improvement books and transmitted to immigrants, that ethic undergirded and promoted America's economic success.

What would Tocqueville or Weber think of America today? In place of thrift, they would find a nation of debtors, staggering beneath loans obtained under false pretenses. In place of a steady, patient accumulation of wealth, they would find bankers and financiers with such a short-term perspective that they never pause to consider the consequences or risks of selling securities they don't understand. In place of a country where all a man asks of government is "not to be disturbed in his toil," as Tocqueville put it, they would find a nation of rent-seekers demanding government subsidies to purchase homes, start new ventures or bail out old ones.

They would find what Tocqueville described as the "fatal circle" of materialism – the cycle of acquisition and gratification that drives people back to ever more frenetic acquisition and that ultimately undermines prosperous democracies.

And they would understand why. After flourishing for three centuries in America, the Protestant ethic began to disintegrate, with key elements slowly disappearing from modern American society, vanishing from schools, business, popular culture, and leaving us with an economic system unmoored from the restraints of civic virtue.

Not even Adam Smith – who was a moral philosopher, after all – imagined capitalism operating in such an ethical vacuum. Bailout plans, new regulatory schemes and monetary policy moves won't be enough to spur a robust, long-term revival of American economic opportunity without some renewal of what was once understood as the work ethic – not just hard work but also a set of accompanying virtues, whose crucial role in the development and sustaining of free markets too few now recall.
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Old 03-02-2011, 01:03 PM   #10
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Old 03-02-2011, 01:25 PM   #11
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Lotta hard truth in this thread. Hopefully enough Americans will come to understand these things.
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Old 03-02-2011, 03:42 PM   #12
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There's this interesting 'American exceptionalism' belief as well. That every person in America, from birth, has the same, equal chance to make something of himself if he works hard enough.

"Why tax the rich when I could be one of them one day if I keep packaging these Big Macs and scrubbing these grills as best as I can? I'm gonna make it one day, guys, I'm gonna be somebody."

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Old 03-02-2011, 08:25 PM   #13
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Good point. But then again, some people also want to strive for a better life so they can give back to their community and so their family doesn't have to worry anymore, too. At least, that's how I'd do things (and just 'cause I want to do what I love for a living, too). But maybe I'm just weird that way .

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Lotta hard truth in this thread. Hopefully enough Americans will come to understand these things.
Didn't Carter say something similar in the '70s? We all know what happened after that.

I fully agree with your hope, and maybe history won't repeat itself. But who knows anymore.

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Old 03-02-2011, 09:34 PM   #14
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I actually think that excessive CEO salaries are one of Americas strong points. Have any of you ever been to a backward country? Where children drop out of school because there is no point? Women don't bother getting an education and just go to college to meet a doctor?

There is a certain 'avant garde' aspect to big salaries, just to enrage the lower the lower classes. Which is ok too.
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Old 03-02-2011, 10:17 PM   #15
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While all those social issues occurring and America going down, the Chinese are quietly progressing so rapidly that their economy will reach the US economic potential in less than 100 years.

Foreign immigrants expecting to come to the US will not have to learn English, but rather move to China and learn Chinese.
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