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Why Are We All So Entitled?


There’s a Senior Center in my town which offers a free lunch every day. All you have to do is show up, produce a Medicare/Medicaid card and you eat as much as you want – 365 anno domini. You can even take some food home to eat later in the day.

After every meal, a couple of seniors march into the office of the Center’s Director to complain about the food. It was overcooked, it was undercooked, it needed more salt, less salt, something wasn’t right. The meal was free but so what?

Last year I worked briefly as a substitute teacher at the local public high school. Most of the kids came into my class wearing a hoodie, which has become the adolescent haute couture for both sexes, by the way. When I asked the kids to remove their hoodies in class I was told in no uncertain terms that they didn’t have to obey because it was their ‘right’ to dress any way they pleased.

I may be from somewhere in outer space, but the only ‘rights’ I thought we have are the ‘rights’ listed in the 1st Amendment, which give us the ‘right’ to free speech, free religion, free press, free assembly, and free petition. If there’s something about wearing hoodies in the Bill of Rights, I guess I need to go back and read that document again.

But lo and behold, we do seem to be entitled to all kinds of other rights, such as the right to free medical care, the right to get paid a decent wage, the right to live in an apartment we can afford, the right to drink clean water and the right to drive an electric car.

Where do all those rights come from? They are enumerated in Bernie Sanders’ latest book, It’s Okay To Be angry About Capitalism, and they are also spelled out by the People’s Party whose candidate, Cornel West, is running for President in 2024.

But if you happen to be an advocate of the alt-right rather than the alt-left, don’t worry about not having your own set of ‘rights’ to support and believe. You have the ‘right’ to own an assault rifle which you can take into a school and mow everyone down. You have the ‘right’ to refuse to be vaccinated because everyone knows that vaccinations don’t prevent, they actually spread disease. And most of all, you need to be concerned about the ‘rights’ of the unborn, even if the Supreme Court is now also protecting those ‘rights.’

Regardless of the current political persuasion, both sides now believe that we are all entitled to these various and sundry ‘rights’ as we live and breathe. In fact, we exist in an Age of Entitlement, which certainly wasn’t the case when I was growing up back in the olden days.

By ‘olden days’ I mean the 1950’s, when my father told me he felt lucky to have a paying job, my mother felt lucky to be able to afford to supervise the maid who cleaned our nice, little house, and both my parents could joke about what it was like when they had to stand outside of the one toilet located on each floor of the apartment house and wait their turn to take a shit or make a pee.

When I lived in Berkeley, CA in the mid 1970’s, my next-door neighbor was an old guy who came out to California from the Dust Bowl, eventually got a job in one of the East Bay ammunition plants, worked double shifts, bought a little bungalow, retired, and lived happily thereafter drinking a couple of quarts of beer every day.

He told me that he left Oklahoma in 1935 or 1936 and in the trip across the country they had to choose between food to eat and gasoline for their car. I’ll never forget the look on his face when he told me that there were people ‘starving in Oklahoma’ when he left, and he wasn’t talking about ‘food insecurity.’ He was talking about not having anything to eat.

I’m not saying we need another Great Depression to teach us what the word ‘entitled’ really means. I’m saying that, thank God, we now have to worry about what we have, not what we have to do without.

Tomorrow – the indictment. What else?

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