Thursday, August 21, 2014
I had to go and look it up to be sure I understood the definition.
Here it is, folks: the word entitle is a verb meaning to give a person or thing a title, a right or claim to something, to call by a particular title or name or to designate a person by an honorary title. It originated about 1350-1400 in middle English.
Entitlement (by current definition) is a noun meaning the act of entitling, state of being entitled and finally Webster's defines it as "the right to guaranteed benefits under a government program, as Social Security or unemployment compensation." Its origin is newer, about 1825-35, but there was no Social Security back then.
It seems to me that this "right to claim" portion of the word is being lost. When we speak of 'entitlement programs' we are saying these are programs which can be claimed or given, and yet many of these programs have a limited audience.
We once were 'entitled' under the Constitution to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," which had a wide-ranging audience.
Some people feel, or more correctly - demonstrate - a certain entitlement because they drive a very expensive car or live in an exclusive neighborhood, that somehow because they have acquired these resources they are 'entitled' to more respect or considerations.
And in some cultures or neighborhoods, a certain family tree or religion creates in the minds of those individuals, that they are entitled to more or less of something.
If we are talking just about Social Security, I did the work, I earned the return of those funds now when I am older and retired. In my opinion, that is not really an 'entitlement,' but a return of value for effort.
But when we are talking about land, it really never can be owned - only leased - to live on and do business. So are we 'entitled' to land? Not like the nobles of the 1300's. We receive a title to land because we have purchased it, but if you fail to pay the taxes on that title, guess who will own it next? And if you are in the way of some corporate plan, you will be forced off that land. There is something quite ethereal about land when you think about it.
When we die, we no longer "own" it. I like the Native American concept of caring for the earth, recognizing we are supposed to be protecting it for the future generations.
I am entitled to the pursuit of happiness by the U.S. Constitution, and if I am not happy, it is not the obligation of anyone else to turn things around for me. That is my task. But an awful lot of people seem to be having a different attitude... "Make me happy!" And what if we decide we don't want to pursue that objective? Are we entitled to make another choice?
In the end, when each of us was born, we received no entitlements at birth, other than the Social Security number which is a documentation of birth, a title, not a guarantee. (It's probably different in other countries.) Then it is up to us.