August 9th, 2007

An Entitlement Mentality


photo credit: Capannelle

Due to continually creeping socialism and the ever-expanding welfare state, American citizens are now being raised with an entitlement mentality. Rather than being instilled with a desire to work hard and follow the law of the harvest, children are ingrained with the errant notion that they will be able to depend on government for their social well-being (often termed “security“).

A recent column in Newsweek paints the picture:

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—programs that serve older people—already exceed 40 percent of the $2.7 trillion federal budget. By 2030, their share could hit 75 percent of the present budget, projects the Congressional Budget Office. The result: a political impasse.

The 2030 projections are daunting. To keep federal spending stable as a share of the economy would mean eliminating all defense spending and most other domestic programs (for research, homeland security, the environment, etc.). To balance the budget with existing programs at their present economic shares would require, depending on assumptions, tax increases of 30 percent to 50 percent—or budget deficits could quadruple. A final possibility: cut retirement benefits by increasing eligibility ages, being less generous to wealthier retirees or trimming all payments.

Little wonder politicians stay silent.

The entitlement mentality is promoted by Congress, who, courting the votes of their constituents, aims to be a quasi breadwinner who will provide them with a dole. They are seen as the protectors of future wealth whose job it is to secure free money for those who think they “deserve” it. Frederic Bastiat, the noted French statesman and author, explained why this is a fallacy:

You say: “There are persons who have no money,” and you turn to the law. But the law is not a breast that fills itself with milk. Nor are the lacteal veins of the law supplied with milk from a source outside the society. Nothing can enter the public treasury for the benefit of one citizen or one class unless other citizens and other classes have been forced to send it in. If every person draws from the treasury the amount that he has put in it, it is true that the law then plunders nobody. But this procedure does nothing for the persons who have no money. It does not promote equality of income. The law can be an instrument of equalization only as it takes from some persons and gives to other persons. When the law does this, it is an instrument of plunder.

Ed Emery argues the point as well:

Not many generations ago, people just wanted government to leave them alone. Now, some want government to be fully responsible for them, regardless of the impact on others. Instead of asking, “how can I help my neighbors?” — the question is “what do we want!?” “When do we want it?” It reflects the entitlement mentality of our day.

Society has moved from independence to dependence and from security to anxiety. Government has failed to provide true security. Security does not come from government programs but from building my life around absolutes that cannot be taken away. Security comes from absolutes such as character, a good name, or a sovereign God.

Nowhere is this entitlement mentality more apparent than when a person falls victim to a tragedy, whether intentional or otherwise. Rush Limbaugh noticed this disturbing trend after 9/11 and commented as follows:

I just can’t let the numbers pass by because it says something really disturbing about the entitlement mentality of this country.

If you lost a family member in the September 11th attack, you’re going to get an average of $1,185,000. The range is a minimum guarantee of $250,000, all the way up to $4.7 million. If you are a surviving family member of an American soldier killed in action, the first check you get is a $6,000, direct death benefit, half of which is taxable. Next, you get $1,750 for burial costs. If you are the surviving spouse, you get $833 a month until you remarry. And there’s a payment of $211 per month for each child under 18. When the child hits 18, those payments come to a screeching halt.

Keep in mind that some of the people that are getting an average of $1.185, million up to $4.7 million, are complaining that it’s not enough.

We also learned over the weekend that some of the victims from the Oklahoma City bombing have started an organization asking for the same deal that the September 11th families are getting.

In addition to that, some of the families of those bombed in the embassies are now asking for compensation as well. You see where this is going, don’t you? Folks, this is part and parcel of over 50 years of entitlement politics in this country. It’s just really sad.

Those who sit around and siphon the national coffers—indeed, thinking that they have a right, or are entitled, to do so—violate the principles of individual liberty and spit in the face of all those who work and toil to fund their entitlements.

We all fall victim to tragedies throughout our life. Who am I, should I become injured while walking down the street, to demand that you give me some of your money? If a baseball lands on my windshield, I have no right to turn to the guy next to me and rip a $20 bill out of his wallet. We should not be funding each others’ misfortunes.

The simple fact is that this entitlement mentality will soon lead to our economic demise. Have we ignored the lessons we are to learn from civilizations that have come and gone, fallen due to their folly? Do we think that our entitlement system can continue to balloon forever?

This mentality must be fought, and the principles of prosperity which our forefathers understood better than we do must be ingrained in our minds and those of the rising generation. Our economic survival depends upon it.

18 Responses to “An Entitlement Mentality”

  1. August 9, 2007 at 1:53 pm #

    “Have we ignored the lessons we are to learn from civilizations that have come and gone, fallen due to their folly?”

    Which civilizations are these?

    I suppose to take the idea of no more entitlements for anyone seriously, all tax-funded institutions should be abolished. Of course that would mean no more healthcare for millions of children and elderly and the working poor. That would mean that only the children of the wealthy would get an education. Also, many farmers would go out of business. Why should we continue to fund the local police departments or fire stations? Why should I pay to have someone else’s home fire extinguished? Sure, my home might catch fire too, but why should someone else have to pay to extinguish the flames of my home?

    One might argue that it is for the benefit of all to have a publicly funded school system or police department etc, but you could say that about every social program. It benefits everyone when poor children are covered by health insurance. I don’t think that arguement will hold much water in the anti-entitlement camp.

  2. Connor
    August 9, 2007 at 3:08 pm #

    Which civilizations are these?

    Any civilization that promoted socialism and attempted to bloat the State to the point of being the provider of all it subjects. Take Nazi (National Socialism) Germany, for example. Hitler was known for his push for free health care, education, food stamps, and other socialist doles. Taxes skyrocketed (some historical records indicate around 80%) to offset the costs of their expanding welfare state, driving the standard of living to the ground. While Hitler promoted equality and free access to social systems, the subsidized services quickly became worthless as the nation’s standard of living declined and citizens chased everywhere for free gimmes from the government.

    Rome, too, was known for its “bread and circuses”, distracting the citizens from their expanding empire by keeping them fed and entertained. They were encouraged to live off of the government and depend on socialist programs funded by the government. Near the end, it was estimated that a third of the citizens of Rome were on the national payroll. Extending countless promises and expanding its empire, Rome soon grew too big and fell.

    Seldom are nations overpowered from the outside before they are rotted from the inside.

    Whenever the citizens look to the government for their aid and support, that civilization has marked its decline. President McKay explained the tragedy surrounding this mentality:

    I cannot help but think that there is a direct relationship between the present evil trends which I have above indicated, and the very marked tendency of the people of our country to pass on to the state the responsibility for their moral and economic welfare. This trend to a welfare state in which people look to and worship government more than their God, is certain to sap the individual ambitions and moral fiber of our youth unless they are warned and rewarned of the consequences. History, of course, is replete with the downfall of nations who, instead of assuming their own responsibility for their religious and economic welfare, mistakenly attempted to shift their individual responsibility to the government.

    I suppose to take the idea of no more entitlements for anyone seriously, all tax-funded institutions should be abolished. Of course that would mean no more healthcare for millions of children and elderly and the working poor.

    Whose plan is it to “save everybody”? Elder Oaks explained:

    The gospel plan is based on individual responsibility. Our article of faith states the eternal truth “that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression” (A of F 1:2). This requirement of individual responsibility, which has many expressions in our doctrine, is in sharp contrast to Satan’s plan to “redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost .” (Moses 4:1). The plan of the Father and the Savior is based on individual choice and individual effort….

    The idea that citizens should be compelled to fund the social prosperity of their neighbors is as destructive to the spirit as it is to society. Ayn Rand explained this:

    A society that robs an individual of the product of his effort….is not strictly speaking a society, but a mob held together by institutionalized gang violence.

    That would mean that only the children of the wealthy would get an education. Also, many farmers would go out of business.

    Too bad for them! Why must the farmers stay in business? Why not encourage a free market where each person is given an opportunity to prosper? Why should we be compelled the fund the enterprises of others? If government got out of the subsidy business and let capitalism and commerce prevail without setting wages and price caps, then we might see a little more prosperity and less government intrusion at the point of a gun.

    Why should we continue to fund the local police departments or fire stations? Why should I pay to have someone else’s home fire extinguished? Sure, my home might catch fire too, but why should someone else have to pay to extinguish the flames of my home?

    Ezra Taft Benson elaborated on the answer to your question in his masterful talk The Proper Role of Government:

    In order for man to prosper, he cannot afford to spend his time constantly guarding his family, his fields, and his property against attach and theft, so he joins together with his neighbors and hires a sheriff. At this precise moment, government is born. The individual citizens delegate to the sheriff their unquestionable right to protect themselves. The sheriff now does for them only what they had a right to do for themselves – nothing more.

    Natural rights can be delegated to institutions and organizations that serve to fulfill the role they themselves would naturally occupy. Legitimate government is constrained to secure the liberties, rights, and protection of its citizens. When their lives or property are at risk, the government may (and should) intervene.

    But the proper role of government should never be to ensure the economic welfare of its citizens, for as Bastiat explains in the quote in this post, the only way by which it can do so is through legalized plunder. By allowing the government to assume this socialist responsibility (for such a duty cannot be delegated by persons who do not have it themselves) we are allowing the State to subvert the rule of law and become a veritable Robin Hood. In essence, we condone and encourage robbery—the redistribution of wealth legally and properly acquired by those who worked for it.

  3. August 9, 2007 at 4:30 pm #

    All right Connor, I understand the basic jist of your view of the proper role of government.

    I just think it would be a sad little world where poor children would go hungry because of the plundering it would take to fund a social feeding program, or where I for one, would never have received an elementary school education because my dad was the ward building custodian and we lived off of a paper route, or where the elderly die in agony because they have no money for medications or medical care, or where children of the working poor or even the lower middle class would die of easily curable diseases because of the lack of government funded medical insurance, or where the homeless population would be increased 10 fold as government subsidized housing disappeared and where crime increased proportionately.

    You and I share a lot of viewpoints, but on the social spending issue, we definitely part ways.

  4. Connor
    August 9, 2007 at 4:38 pm #

    Curtis,

    I agree that it would be a sad world under those conditions. But it’s a sad world anyways, for as Jesus said, the poor will always be with us. Despite the governments of the world seeking to spread around wealth and fix problems, the problems persist.

    I firmly believe that the onus of social reform is on individual citizens. We should be responsible for charitably giving of ourselves and creating a better world. It’s a sad indictment on our society if we truly feel that nobody would give and render aid unless compelled to do so at the point of a gun through government intervention.

  5. August 9, 2007 at 7:47 pm #

    “It’s a sad indictment on our society if we truly feel that nobody would give and render aid unless compelled to do so at the point of a gun through government intervention.”

    Then we’re indicted. We all know the generous types of people who care nothing for riches and give away much to help their fellow man, but they are few and far between and we would definitely come up short.

  6. August 10, 2007 at 1:40 pm #

    Connor,
    I agree. Entitlement is a problem. Take the environment for instance. Some claim that the statement “enough and to spare” means they have no stewardship to responsibly manage the Earths resources and environment. Selfish, selfish, selfish.

    Food for thought- a correlary to entitlement-which I think is definitely a form of pride- is the feeling that we “deserve” that which we have “earned”. The fact is everything we get is a blessing. We need more gratitude.

  7. Connor
    August 10, 2007 at 1:41 pm #

    The fact is everything we get is a blessing. We need more gratitude.

    Absolutely. We are stewards of that which we receive, not owners.

  8. Russell
    August 10, 2007 at 3:12 pm #

    @ Curtis

    A few points…

    Um, my dad was the ward building custodian too. You say that like it’s a misfortune. It’s a choice. It was my dad’s choice. A “child of” means nothing about the future for what that child becomes. So, I don’t really understand what that has to do with anything.

    If you believe that you never would have received an education because there was no government-funded building where all the neighborhood kids gathered to be taught by some public educators then you don’t seem to show much faith in your parents desire to see that you learn. Somehow society has placed education on the shoulders of others and not on their own heads and then they complain about how terrible it is. When did their agency to educate their own offspring disappear? (Entitlement).

    For the LDS people (and truth is truth, so for all mankind), socialism/entitlement is one of the oldest lies in existence. It is at the very core of the opposition to good.

    Remember this? Abraham 3: 27-28 27 “And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first.
    28 And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.”

    As the story goes, Satan proposed that all mankind would be saved (“I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost”) and the Lord did not choose that. He did not choose entitlement salvation and glory to Satan. He choose the route of Glory to God and agency.

    Moses 4:1
    “And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.”

    Entitlement was proposed by Satan himself long ago in the form of salvation. Entitlement is one of the oldest lies in existence. It was (and still is) at the very core of evil because when people view the world as though it owes them then they fail to act and take accountability . . . to be agents.

    D&C 58:28 “For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.”

    Now, we still have the people you have mentioned that may need medicine, medical care, etc… We are commanded to “Love thy neighbor as thyself” .

    1) We are commanded.
    2) We can either act (as agents) according to the command, or we don’t.

    BUT, in the Lord’s “Plan of Happiness” force has no place. It is a counterfeit to agency. Taking from one and giving to another is force. It robs the individual of the opportunity to act as a steward and agent with that money, food or medical care or whatever it may be. Thankfully, many good people still act out of love for their neighbor anyway despite that fact that governments and politicians promote the age-old lie that the right thing to do is to take from some and disburse to others with no regard to their choice/agency.

  9. August 11, 2007 at 1:25 am #

    Russel
    “Um, my dad was the ward building custodian too. You say that like it’s a misfortune. It’s a choice. It was my dad’s choice. A “child of” means nothing about the future for what that child becomes. So, I don’t really understand what that has to do with anything.”

    Actually, I was hoping you would understand what my point was from the context of the conversation. As a child of the ward custodian, we didn’t have a whole lot of extra money lying around to pay for an education.

    “If you believe that you never would have received an education because there was no government-funded building where all the neighborhood kids gathered to be taught by some public educators then you don’t seem to show much faith in your parents desire to see that you learn.”

    I don’t think you are getting the point here. An education costs money. My parents both worked for money and had no time to give me the kind of education I would have gotten from public schools. If there were no tax-payer funded education system, I would not have been educated as well as I was. That’s not hard to understand is it? My parents were good people, but they were kind of boneheads when it came to their kid’s education. In a world where noone is entitled to anything, I would not have gotten a good elementary education.

    “As the story goes, Satan proposed that all mankind would be saved (”I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost”) and the Lord did not choose that. He did not choose entitlement salvation and glory to Satan. He choose the route of Glory to God and agency.”

    Ah man, here goes this argument again. I’ve argued in the past that socialism as an economic policy is no different from many other laws made by government that we are forced to live by. If I don’t care for my children and neglect them horribly, to the point that they are emaciated from lack of nourishment, I will be punished heavily. Wait! You mean to say that government can force me to do something? By the definition of those who rally against socialism, a man cannot be forced to do something for it takes away from his agency. Socialism takes away my income to use for the purposes of the state. I am forced to give up that money or I will be punished. However, I am also forced to give up money to pay for my kids upbringing. I am forced to stop at a stop sign. Is not my agency being taken away there too? If I am not afforded the opportunity to take care of my kids of my own free will and agency, am I then forced to follow Satan’s plan? All laws then force me to choose a certain path, thereby making law the enemy of God since all of that agency is being taken away.

    Laws are necessary for the good order of society. In reality, I think that laws dictating the redistribution of income take away from a man’s agency no more that do laws against murder or robbery etc. Whatever situation we are placed in we still have a choice as to how we will react. I have control over my emotions, over my thoughts (which is where I think the true battle over agency continues), etc. Even people ruled by the most oppressive governments have quite a bit of wiggle space in which to use their agency. Laws that force me to pay taxes and provide for the general welfare and the common good promote order. I still have the remainder of my income to do with as I please.

    D&C 58:28 “For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.”

    Right. And herein lies the key. An agent, as defined in English is, “a person authorised to act on behalf of another person.” Who then are we authorized to act for? The scripture says that we are authorized to act on behalf of ourselves. Who gave us that authority? God himself. I still have the authorization to act on behalf of myself (or my premortal self if you prefer) no matter what laws are in effect in this world. I have as much opportunity to do good or evil. I do not require money to do good or bad. The judge that I will be answerable to is the light of Christ, which is the light which governs all things as we learn in D&C 88:13. What do I do with the promptings I receive? How well do I obey the Spirit of the Lord? There is my agency. This cannot be taken away by laws that take away money (which money isn’t even mine in the first place as Doc has pointed out).
    The battle against Satan is within each of us regardless of what our environment imposes on us. We have the freedom to react in accordance with the Spirit of God, or to react in accordance with some other spirit.
    “Now, we still have the people you have mentioned that may need medicine, medical care, etc… We are commanded to “Love thy neighbor as thyself”.”

    “Thankfully, many good people still act out of love for their neighbor anyway despite that fact that governments and politicians promote the age-old lie that the right thing to do is to take from some and disburse to others with no regard to their choice/agency.”

    Yes, this is a good thing. There are many who act out of love. However, they are far too few in number to cover the gazillions of dollars needed to give good health care to American children, or to pay to help the victims of Katrina, or to help the victims of the disastrous tsunami which killed over 200,000 a while back. Our government took our precious tax dollars and just give it to those victims. Surely they should understand that they should not be ‘entitled’ to that sort of benefit.

  10. August 11, 2007 at 4:43 am #

    On the idea that a good education must cost money:

    Never in the history of the entire world has so much information been so easily and quickly accessible to the human race. Don’t we realize how ironic it is that in this day and age we feel one can only achieve a good education by way of a lot of money (either public or private funds) and a certified teacher to spoon feed the knowledge to us?

    Do the thousands of poor home schoolers in our country at this very moment require these things? Many of them are utilizing not much more than a library card, a paper and pencil, their kitchen table, and a parent who is motivated to help them. And yet, they consistently average higher on the ACT than their public school peers. How can this be?

    Government vs. private charity:

    Ron Paul has commented that before medicaid existed, he worked for a charity hospital that never turned anyone away. How many charity hospitals are there today? How many charity schools are there today? (They used to exist). Are we overlooking the idea that maybe government involvement in these areas stifles private charity involvement? Are people more willing to give to charity or less willing to give, knowing that they already pay a high percentage of their income for entitlement programs? One of the sad things about involuntary taxed “charity” is that much of the money is wasted. Another is that it is often seen more as an entitlement (I qualify for it) rather than someone’s generosity.

    I think that laws dictating the redistribution of income take away from a man’s agency no more that do laws against murder or robbery etc

    Really??? You are leaving out the moral test here. In the absence of government, do you have a moral right to murder your neighbor (if not in self defense). No. Do you have a moral right to take your neighbor’s money without his consent? No. Even if you need it more? No. Then government cannot morally do it (through taxation) for you. If there is no moral test, nowhere to draw the line, then government becomes a supreme source of unchecked power that could potentially take away nearly all our agency — the very thing it was designed to protect.

    You are also leaving out the government’s role laid out by the constitution. Does the government have an obligation to protect the life of it’s citizens? Yes. Therefore, the people are obliged to help pay for that protection (military, law enforcement). These basic services of protection are very different from saying the government has the obligation to educate everyone and provide healthcare for everyone. The latter are personal matters and are not specifically mentioned in the constitution as being a duty of the federal government. You may want them to be, or say they are implied, but they are not there.

  11. August 11, 2007 at 4:54 am #

    Referring to Katrina victims receiving federal money, it was said:

    Surely they should understand that they should not be ‘entitled’ to that sort of benefit.

    How do you justify the forced redistribution of income, so others who need it can have it, and then turn around and say (when somebody is in need of it) that they should not feel entitled to it? Human nature does not work that way and that’s what this post is about. If someone spends his whole life being forced to pay for social security, health care, education, etc out of every pay check, you don’t think he’s going to feel entitled to get some benefit from all these payments when he’s in need? It’s only fair, right?

  12. August 12, 2007 at 1:06 am #

    Carissa,

    “On the idea that a good education must cost money:”

    I don’t think I said a good education must cost money. I said that I personally would not have received a good education in my circumstances as a child. It also seems very apparent to me that the majority of children who have two parents working (as is more and more common in our tightening economy) would not have the opportunity to be homeschooled to the point that their education matches that of what they would receive in a public school.

    “Are we overlooking the idea that maybe government involvement in these areas stifles private charity involvement? Are people more willing to give to charity or less willing to give, knowing that they already pay a high percentage of their income for entitlement programs?”

    This is a fair question. I think that there are many who would give charitably of the money they used to pay taxes with, if those taxes were abolished. However, I think the majority of people would not. You are looking forward to the United Order, or the Law of Consecration to govern people’s conscience… I also long for this utopian society where all give freely for the good of the group without being compelled to. However, not even the general membership of the Church was able to live that law in the early days of the Church. Greed is an awful thing and it dwells in most people’s hearts as we learn in D&C 121 that almost all men, when given a little authority as they suppose, immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. The majority of people will always find a way to spend the extra money they have when their income increases.

    “In the absence of government, do you have a moral right to murder your neighbor?”

    No.

    “Do you have a moral right to take your neighbor’s money without his consent?”

    No. But you are forgetting one question. Do you have the moral right to withhold your resources from someone who is in need when you are able to spare? No. There are too many scriptures to quote which show the immorality of such an action. Why then is it too much of a stretch to think that the government, which makes laws concerning other moral decisions, can make a law concerning taxes?

    “Then government cannot morally do it (through taxation) for you.”

    Oh yes it can. The constitution provides for the collection of taxes as follows: The Constitution, in Article I, Section 8, gives Congress the power “to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts, and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States.” That statement leaves things pretty wide open. The “general welfare of the United States” is a pretty broad category and can be interpreted broadly as well.

    “If there is no moral test, nowhere to draw the line, then government becomes a supreme source of unchecked power that could potentially take away nearly all our agency — the very thing it was designed to protect.”

    Fortunately, the government is not a supreme source of unchecked power and you have the opportunity to vote your conscience as well in order to elect people whom you believe would serve this country the best. The government only has the power that we the people give it and therefore, it is the people, not the government, who are to blame for the type of government we have. I also believe that no one can take away our agency as I stated in a previous comment. It is authority given to us from God and man cannot take it away.

    “These basic services of protection are very different from saying the government has the obligation to educate everyone and provide healthcare for everyone. The latter are personal matters and are not specifically mentioned in the constitution as being a duty of the federal government. You may want them to be, or say they are implied, but they are not there.”

    Again, many would say that it is definitely in the interest of the broad general welfare of the United States that all people are afforded an opportunity for health care and primary education. It would definitely look bad if there were a million grandmas dying on the street for lack of medicare coverage of the medications keeping them alive etc. Our nation has also signed onto an agreement in 1947, called the UN Declaration on Human Rights which declares healthcare and education to be essential human rights. Adam Smith, the great father of capitalism himself also said that infrastructure, a standing military and education are the three minimum requirements of a government toward it’s people.

    “How do you justify the forced redistribution of income, so others who need it can have it, and then turn around and say (when somebody is in need of it) that they should not feel entitled to it?”

    My point was missed here. I was being somewhat sarcastic. According to the anti-entitlement point of view, it was absolutely unforgiveable that US tax dollars were used to support Katrina victims. It should have been taken care of by charitable contributions by people who would give freely of their income to help, instead of plundering the USA public’s pockets forcefully thru the use of tax dollars. The same goes for the tsunami victims receipt of our tax dollars etc. In each instance this is unforgiveable from the point of view of you folks as far as I can tell. I’m all for tax dollars going to help these people personally.

  13. Russell Page
    August 12, 2007 at 11:59 am #

    @ Curtis

    I think I’ll just address the “dad was a custodian” part because we could go back and forth forever on the rest.

    Actually, I was hoping you would understand what my point was from the context of the conversation. As a child of the ward custodian, we didn’t have a whole lot of extra money lying around to pay for an education.

    I didn’t feel you were asking for understanding. I felt you were asking for sympathy or something. We didn’t “have” a lot of extra money either. We had 6 kids in th family living off of that same ward custodian pay. My mom chose not to work. Somehow . . . we were fine. Somehow.

    I don’t think you are getting the point here. An education costs money. My parents both worked for money and had no time to give me the kind of education I would have gotten from public schools. If there were no tax-payer funded education system, I would not have been educated as well as I was. That’s not hard to understand is it? My parents were good people, but they were kind of boneheads when it came to their kid’s education. In a world where noone is entitled to anything, I would not have gotten a good elementary education.

    I get the point. I just don’t agree with it one bit. Education does not cost money. As long as you believe that, you’ll always believe that your education is limited to money. Think beyond “Education” in terms of buildings and teachers and colored paper and glue sticks here. Don’t kid yourself into believing that your parents had no time to educate you as though it was just a fact of life. Your dad worked. Your mom worked. Those were choices. My dad worked (the same job as yours) and my mom chose not to work. If we needed some extra money, my dad did some extra work here and there installing digital systems in player pianos.

    Today much of my profession revolves around writing, spelling etc…. and my mom taught me the tricks of spelling not some school teacher. Yes, I learned there, but if we lived on the middle of the sahara I think my mom still would have made sure I learned and got an education. No money needed there.

    Half of the problems with education in the U.S. arise from this very line of thinking . . . that we have to have buildings with students and teachers in order to get a decent education. It’s baloney. It fosters entitlement and undercuts self-reliance. Do I think public education is a horrible thing? Certainly not. But stop thinking of it as the gatekeeper of your future for making money.

    Remember. My dad had the same job. We also had little money. We had 6 kids in a small house. We never went hungry. We never went naked. We were never in need of shelter.

    As a kid, I always wondered why my dad didn’t do something else . . . something where we could have more. That thought went away quick the moment I realized his job provided great medical care and hours that had him off and home almost every day by 4:00 p.m. He was home when we were home. He always went camping with me on scout trips. He came to all my baseball games, band concerts and school events, and he did it all while working as the ward custodian.

    This isn’t an attempt to say my parents are any better than any better, but when you start comparing Apples to Apples, it’s easy to see how money has no place in this equation.

    Again, it’s not that I “don’t understand” it’s that I think you’re telling a sob story that I don’t buy . . . and I don’t buy it because of personal experience.

  14. August 12, 2007 at 1:13 pm #

    Curtis — Thanks for your comments.

    Do you have the moral right to withhold your resources from someone who is in need when you are able to spare? No. There are too many scriptures to quote which show the immorality of such an action.

    Actually, I would say yes to this question. You have the agency (or right) to choose whether or not you will help someone in need. You have the right to keep your money, even if you have a moral obligation to give it. That is not to say you will not be judged accordingly. In these examples from the scriptures, are the people ever “forced” to give of their substance? They may lose the blessings from not doing so, but they are given the choice nonetheless — just as we are today with tithes and offerings. Any punishment is spiritual, not temporal.

    As to the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, I would have to agree with Jeane Kirkpatrick when she argued that “certain economic rights cannot be human rights, for they must be provided by others through forceful extraction, for example taxation, and that they negate other peoples’ inalienable rights”.

    The U.N. could decide tomorrow to include as a human right that everyone is entitled to enough food. That sure sounds nice, but unless enough people are willing (or forced) to grow the food, harvest the food, cook the food, and distribute the food — there is no guarantee everyone will always have enough to eat at all times. Same with providing education or health care. In my opinion, these things are fundamentally different from the government enforcing punishment for murder or theft.

    Also, I believe that the phrase in Article 1 section 8, “provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States”, means welfare of the states (collectively), not personal welfare of the individuals.

    Welfare was defined, according to Webster in 1828, within 2 specifically different contexts. One definition applied to persons and one applied to states. The latter being, “exemption from any unusual evil or calamity; the enjoyment of peace and prosperity, or the ordinary blessings of society and civil government” The personal meaning, on the other hand, included exemptions from sickness and the enjoyment of health. I believe that the founders were using the definition that applied to states, not to individuals.

    Here are some quotes that describe how I feel about the general welfare clause:

    “With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.” James Madison, Letter to James Robertson, April 20, 1831 _Madison_ 1865, IV, pages 171-172

    “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.” Thomas Jefferson

  15. August 13, 2007 at 2:22 pm #

    Russell,

    “I didn’t feel you were asking for understanding. I felt you were asking for sympathy or something.”

    Well, if that’s true, I sure didn’t get it from you.

    “We didn’t “have” a lot of extra money either. We had 6 kids in th family living off of that same ward custodian pay. My mom chose not to work. Somehow . . . we were fine. Somehow.”

    I was fine too. I had a barely adequate public school education and a happy childhood. Were you homeschooled?

    “Don’t kid yourself into believing that your parents had no time to educate you as though it was just a fact of life.”

    Pretty presumptuous don’t you think? How do you know what sort of time my mom and dad had? Let me inform you since it seems you have taken an interest in my father’s career. My dad worked 3 different jobs with a paper route, the custodian job, and refereeing basketball. We also cleaned a small school on weekends. My mom worked at the church building and the weekend job, and we all helped out on the paper route on weekends (it was a big one). They didn’t have time though you may think what you like.

    “Your dad worked. Your mom worked. Those were choices.”

    Choices that were pretty much forced upon them. The hard work they did barely kept us above the poverty line.

    “…but if we lived on the middle of the sahara I think my mom still would have made sure I learned and got an education. No money needed there.”

    Good for you. I never learned much in the way of academics from either of my parents.

    “Half of the problems with education in the U.S. arise from this very line of thinking . . . that we have to have buildings with students and teachers in order to get a decent education. It’s baloney.”

    I agree that one can get a great education from a parent in a homeschool type situation with resources that are at your fingertips now on the internet or at the local library. However, the majority of our youth need to be educated at public school as they would not have the opportunity to be homeschooled.

    “Remember. My dad had the same job. We also had little money. We had 6 kids in a small house. We never went hungry. We never went naked. We were never in need of shelter.”

    And you also had the public school system to give you an education.

    “As a kid, I always wondered why my dad didn’t do something else . . . something where we could have more. That thought went away quick the moment I realized his job provided great medical care and hours that had him off and home almost every day by 4:00 p.m. He was home when we were home. He always went camping with me on scout trips. He came to all my baseball games, band concerts and school events, and he did it all while working as the ward custodian.”

    That’s good for you, but my dad’s circumstances were different. He took the job because it was the best he could do without furthering his education (and he regrets not having done so) and it put food on the table. He definitely didn’t do it because he wanted more family time.

    “This isn’t an attempt to say my parents are any better than any better, but when you start comparing Apples to Apples, it’s easy to see how money has no place in this equation.”

    On the contrary, if I didn’t have a public tax-payer supported education, I would not have received even the shoddy education I received, and I think that the majority of kids of the working poor are like I was. Sure there is the opportunity to receive a good education from a motivated parent when circumstances permit, but I’d guess the majority of kids lack either the motivated parent or the circumstances and would suffer if they had no tax payer supported public education.

    “Again, it’s not that I “don’t understand” it’s that I think you’re telling a sob story that I don’t buy . . . and I don’t buy it because of personal experience.”

    Your experience was obviously different from mine.

  16. August 13, 2007 at 2:45 pm #

    Carissa,

    “You have the agency (or right) to choose whether or not you will help someone in need.”

    You also have the agency (or right) to choose if you murder someone or not.

    “You have the right to keep your money, even if you have a moral obligation to give it.”

    Now you’re talking of two different things. The moral obligation, which is what I was talking about, and the right or privilege (if I may put words into your mouth) under the law? We don’t have the privilege of withholding our taxes in this country when they are due. I’m sure you are aware of that. Morally, we are obligated to give up our money to those in need. This is well established in the scriptures.

    “That is not to say you will not be judged accordingly. In these examples from the scriptures, are the people ever “forced” to give of their substance?”

    Yes. Rome levied taxes as did the Temple (when Christ had Peter get the coin from the fishes mouth). The law of Moses also required many economic sacrifices of the people of Israel. The harvesters weren’t allowed to go back and pick up dropped harvest as that part was designated for the poor. Usury or interest charging was forbidden. They were forced to forgive debts in the jubilee year, and were forbidden from withholding a loan just because the jubilee was just around the corner. Check out the book of Deuteronomy. Some good stuff there.

    “As to the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, I would have to agree with Jeane Kirkpatrick when she argued that “certain economic rights cannot be human rights, for they must be provided by others through forceful extraction, for example taxation, and that they negate other peoples’ inalienable rights”.”

    You can argue all you like but the fact remains that we signed onto that document and are obligated to live up to our agreement or back out of it as we do with most of our weapons treaties.

    “The U.N. could decide tomorrow to include as a human right that everyone is entitled to enough food.”

    UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Article 25:
    (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

    “Also, I believe that the phrase in Article 1 section 8, “provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States”, means welfare of the states (collectively), not personal welfare of the individuals.”

    That’s a fair interpretation, but one could argue that the states collectively benefit when the population of said states are fed and afforded a certain standard of living.

  17. August 13, 2007 at 6:35 pm #

    As far as I can tell, your argument seems to be this:
    The only way for people to realistically be taken care of (since private charity would not be enough) is for the government to coerce, through taxation, those who are able- to take care of those who are in need. Therefore, even though we value agency, in this case the ends justify the means and allow for the order and good of society. (Please correct me if I interpreted you wrong).

    You can take this for what you think it’s worth (my emphasis for clarity):

    Political thought has traditionally been polarized between competing theories, one position emphasizing man’s communality and the other his individuality.

    The theory of communality has been characterized by a belief in objective reality—a strand of classical Greek thought which held that because the good existed and could be discerned, force was justified in obtaining it; that is, the good is known and is embodied in the whole of the community, and the individual may therefore be coerced into conforming to that fact. Force is legitimated by the end to be achieved.

    The theory of individuality was based upon a rejection of the premise that man can discern objective reality by reason and by intuition. Denying either (or both) the existence of universal principles or the ability of man to perceive them if they did exist, this form of liberalism asserts the subjectivity of knowledge and ethics, since both arise solely from man’s sense experience and his individualistic desires. Freedom becomes simply the untrammeled accomplishment of individual desires. Coercion therefore has no moral base but is simply tolerated, at the lowest possible level, so that individual man might accomplish without infringement by others his individually discerned desires. Community is therefore minimal and artificial.

    Latter-day Saint theology maintains that a mixture of truth and error exists in both classical Greek and liberal thought. Objective reality exists and can be known, forming the basis of uncoerced and natural community. At the same time, however, the Latter-day Saint belief in man’s uncreated individuality and in the sanctity of his agency—an agency so sacrosanct that God himself will not infringe upon it—denies the legitimacy of force as a means of attaining the community’s ends. Man’s goal is seen as being the perfection of his individuality in the image of his Heavenly Father, until he is able to enjoy a celestial community. The attainment of such a goal, however, can only be accomplished by loving persuasion, not by force.

    Latter-day Saint theology offers a solution to an age-old paradox—the conflict between individualism and communality—by suggesting a harmony between them in which each is essential to the other. Man’s individuality, stemming from his eternal and uncreated intelligence and protected by the principle of agency, is developed to its ultimate godlike potential as he serves his brothers and sisters without compulsory means in righteousness and love.

    Edwin Brown Firmage, “Eternal Principles of Government: A Theological Approach,” Ensign, Jun 1976

  18. August 23, 2007 at 7:36 am #

    Ron Paul does a good job of explaining why our “entitlement system” is a bad idea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9JIwxhRfug

Leave a Reply

Leave your opinion here. Please be nice. Your Email address will be kept private.