Entitlement

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-12-2005
Entitlement
19
Wed, 08-18-2010 - 8:06am

I was recently involved in a discussion in which someone mentioned the sense of entitlement in this country. The point was that people who have lost jobs or are unable to pay their bills have shown a sense of entitlement in having their problems taken care of for them.

It made me start to think. I feel entitled. I feel entitled to food, water, and shelter. I feel entitled to a decent house. I feel entitled to my retirement savings, my annual vacation, and the clothes I buy. I feel my children are entitled to their college funds, the education our public school provides and that we pay ridiculous taxes for, and to medical care paid for by the insurance I buy.

Why would my sense of entitlement be any better? I pay for these things, but I do so because I can. I am healthy, smart enough (not calling myself smart, just smart enough to earn at the level I do), and educated enough. Some of the people at the heart of the discussion were people who felt entitled to significantly less than I feel entitled to. They only felt entitled to have shelter, food and clothing for their children, medical care. I have heard the argument that feeling entitled to things you can pay for yourself is different than feeling entitled to something but expecting others to pay for it, but I do not necessarily agree.

My question for anyone who cares to debate or discuss: which is worse, feeling entitled to things you need but are unable to provide for yourself or family or feeling entitled to things you do not need or to more of the world's resources than you need?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 01-15-2006
In reply to: ka032006
Wed, 08-18-2010 - 8:41am

without looking up WEBSTERS definiton, i thought "entitlemetn" meant you deserved something witihout earning it or working for it.


yea, we have comfortable living arrangements, good health,

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-12-2005
In reply to: ka032006
Wed, 08-18-2010 - 9:00am

I found this definition:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/entitlement

I do not see anything in either definition about not earning it. Just a belief that one deserves it.

So my question is why does ability to pay make one deserving, but needing it does not?

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2008
In reply to: ka032006
Wed, 08-18-2010 - 9:13am

There is a big difference in feeling entitled to something you earned, and feeling entitled to something you didn't earn.

When you feel entitled to something you earned, it is yours. You have it or own it. You bought it. If someone tried to take it from you, you would have legal or other recourse to get it back, because it is yours. What you feel entitled to is within your control. You earn money, you buy what you want, or you save it, or you give it away. Your control, your choice.

When you feel entitled to something you didn't earn, it isn't yours unless it is given to you. And it may or may not be given to you. If it is given to you, it can be taken away and you may have no legal or other recourse to get it back. It is not within your control to get it if someone is not volunteering to give it to you. Since you didn't earn it, you have fewer choices and there can be limits placed on what you can do with it. Limited or no control, limited or no choice.

The first one feels good. It's empowering to earn something (income, appreciation, achievement), or have something that can't be take away (a right, a freedom). It's empowering to make decisions and choices that are within your control. The latter can leave one feeling very frustrated and powerless. It is difficult to have things you didn't earn when you feel they were owed to you. When we receive a gift, we usually feel grateful or appreciative. Feeling entitled is the opposite of that, you feel it was deserved. Imagine a special person giving you a special gift, and rather than feeling grateful you felt entitled to that gift. It would change how you responded to that person, and how you perceived the gift. It wouldn't be a gift at all any longer, it would be your due.

Feeling entitled to things we don't earn that are out of our control is a problem because it affects our actions and our perceptions. It is especially problematic when we don't get the things we feel entitled to, then we are left with frustration and even anger that we don't have that which we deserve. It can leave people feeling rejected, disenfranchised, lost, hopeless, and ultimately it feeds a lower sense of self-worth. It can be a vicious cycle. It's disempowering.

"Life is the art of drawing without an eraser."

John W. Gardner



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"The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding."
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iVillage Member
Registered: 07-12-2005
In reply to: ka032006
Wed, 08-18-2010 - 9:29am

So let's compare two women. Neither have a job outside of the home, or any job that results in a paycheck.

One has a husband who does have a job outside of the home.
The other's husband died.

Is the first more deserving of food and shelter? Is it okay for her to feel entitled to the food and shelter that is paid for by her husband's paycheck? Is the second less deserving even if her days look exactly the same as the first woman's except without a husband?

I understand the generally accepted notion that we are more entitled to things we have paid for with money we earned. What I question is why we as a society have accepted that earning something is more important than needing it.

edited to add: I think the discussion of empowerment does address that question, But it can also be said that meeting people's basic needs when they are unable to do it with money they earned provides a healthier population, which in turn is more likely to be productive. That is the general philosophy behind social welfare programs, but people still resent social welfare because they feel they are more entitled to the money they earned than someone who needs it. I want to understand why.




Edited 8/18/2010 9:34 am ET by ka032006
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2008
In reply to: ka032006
Wed, 08-18-2010 - 10:00am
One has a husband who does have a job outside of the home.

The other's husband died.


Is the first more deserving of food and shelter? Is it okay for her to feel entitled to the food and shelter that is paid for by her husband's paycheck? Is the second less deserving even if her days look exactly the same as the first woman's except without a husband?



You can be deserving without feeling entitled. I don't earn any income presently, and I feel deserving of my situation because I am part of a partnership where I do more non-monetary tasks while my husband's responsibility is more financial. But I do not feel entitled to the lifestyle he provides. If we divorced I would not expect to keep living in his house, I would feel obligated to revert to the lifestyle I can afford on my own. I would not expect to have more than what we have already agreed to or that the law would permit in a divorce, because I am not owed more than that, and because I only feel owed those things that are within my control to have.



I'm not clear in the scenario though, where is the second woman getting her food and shelter from? How does she feel about where the money is coming from? Did she earn it in the past, inherit it and it's hers now, or is it being given to her? Is she feeling entitled or is she feeling appreciative?



I understand the generally accepted notion that we are more entitled to things we have paid for with money we earned. What I question is why we as a society have accepted that earning something is more important than needing it.



I don't think it's about needing it. I think you can need something and earn it (empowering); you can need it and be gifted it and appreciate it or feel grateful for it (neither empowering nor disempowering); or you can need it and feel entitled to it (has the potential to be incredibly disempowering).



Let me take that last one a little further. Say we are talking a right. Let's take the right to vote. Women feeling entitled to the right to vote and not having that right, likely felt disempowering. It was a social injustice. But women fought, and won the right to vote. That made it empowering for women.



Now take my niece. She feels entitled to a new, expensive car. She has only a high school education and works a low paying job. The only way she can qualify for the new, expensive car is to raise her income, which she does by getting a second job. But she doesn't want to earn the new, expensive car, she feels entitled to it. So she has the second job two weeks just long enough to get the new car, and then she quits. She only needed that job to qualify to get the car, not to actually pay for the car. She still feels entitled to the car. Later, when the car is repossessed she is angry and frustrated, and feels this is not her fault. It's her mothers fault for not bailing her out, it's her boyfriends fault for not paying her back the money she lent him, and it's the loan company's fault for not giving her more chances to get caught up on the payments before taking it away. Because she deserves the car, and feels entitled to it, she has no appreciation for it and lacks a feeling of responsibility for the obligation that came with it. This is the kind of thing where entitlement can get people into trouble.



It's definitely not that all senses of entitlement are bad in every case, it's not that humans are undeserving of basic standards of living. It's that in some cases, having a sense of entitlement leads to poor decision making, frustration, anger, lack of responsibility, and blaming others when what feels deserved is not given or is taken away, rather than feeling grateful for what one has or is given.

"Life is the art of drawing without an eraser."

John W. Gardner



Photobucket



Ten Rules for Being Human


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"The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding."
Malcolm Gladwell Blink

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-08-2009
In reply to: ka032006
Wed, 08-18-2010 - 11:03am
Do your kids not go to public school? Don't you feel they are entitled to a decent education at that school?
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2008
In reply to: ka032006
Wed, 08-18-2010 - 11:26am
Do your kids not go to public school? Don't you feel they are entitled to a decent education at that school?



My kids go to public school, and the reason they are entitled to a decent education there is because our society chooses to provide it, and we pay for it. I also have some control over it. I can vote for who is on the school board, I can go to the meetings, I can join the PTA, and I can be involved in others ways, I can also supplement it at home. If society did not provide it and pay for it or give us that opportunity to participate in it, we would not be entitled. Their education would be my responsibility to provide at that point.



That some schools in our society offer a decent public school education and others offer a substandard public school education is a problem. A social injustice. It doesn't come from having a sense of unearned entitlement. It comes from having a sense of fairness. All children deserve a decent education because all children are created equal, and educating some differently may constitute discrimination.



You don't need a sense of entitlement to be against social injustice and discrimination. A sense of entitlement can get people into trouble, and be disempowering, where fighting social injustice and discrimination can help people, and be empowering. The former is passive, takes the stance that one is owed, and expects others to come through for you. The later is active, has the expectation of doing something to fix the problem, and expects you to come through for yourself and others.

"Life is the art of drawing without an eraser."

John W. Gardner



Photobucket



Ten Rules for Being Human


Photobucket



"The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding."
Malcolm Gladwell Blink

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2000
In reply to: ka032006
Wed, 08-18-2010 - 11:31am

The only things I feel entitled to are "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". I'm only entitled to these things because of where I live. Other things have been determined necessary by my government in ensuring them: "free" public education, fire and police protection, decent housing, truth in advertising, a safe work environment, the right to vote, etc. I have these things because I voted for them or others have voted for them in the past. In reality, I also work for these things in participating in the working of the various governments of my county. To quote Robert Heinlein: "there is no such thing as a free lunch".

Chris

The truth may be out there but lies are in your head. Terry Pratchett

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-22-2000
In reply to: ka032006
Wed, 08-18-2010 - 12:09pm

Excellent post!


iVillage Member
Registered: 01-08-2009
In reply to: ka032006
Wed, 08-18-2010 - 12:34pm
Isn't that how most governmental entitlements work? Society decides to pay for them?

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