Our society has raised a generation of entitlement thinkers--especially in recent months. Children (along with adults) want something for nothing, and they grow into adults who want something for nothing. In the American ghetto, sadly, we now have three generations who have sat around their family dinner table talking about their welfare checks. Meanwhile, quietly, lawful immigrants (both now and from yesteryear) rolled up their sleeves and got to work and worked themselves out of the American ghetto in one generation. The immigrants slept on the floor in the back of their shops and now own the buildings that house those same shops...while their American counterparts continued a life of poverty and grew their entitlement mentality.
Dr. Theodore Dalrymple, a British psychologist who worked in the ghettos of the U.K., says that often "poverty is what we carry around between our two ears." It breeds itself in our thought life. See his eye-opening book: Life at the Bottom.
We are "hand-out-foolish" as a nation. Think of how our country could be improved if we required commensurate work for every welfare check we handed out. We could say as a nation, "Yes, you can have money: there will always be money for the individual who will give us work in exchange." How 'bout that for a policy?!
Recipients of government benefits could improve our country's roads, spotlessly clean bathrooms in all of our government buildings, plant trees, pick up trash along roads, pick weeds, do maintenance repairs on old equipment, etc, etc.
Here’s the problem: entitlement programs work until you run out of taxpayers. Then you have a disaster on your hands.
A number of years ago, outraged college students took over their college president's office because they wanted future students of The Cooper Union to continue receiving a free education. The impasse lasted 65 days. The institution was over-extended and in debt by $17 million through a series of poor decisions. The ideology was unsustainable in the real world. Free means someone hidden is footing the bill. Nothing is ever free. The president and the professors should have walked off their jobs, turned the lights out, and left the students with the bills, but they didn't, because their own entitlement mentality got the best of them (the president thought there was nothing unconscionable about receiving a salary of nearly $800,000 and getting free use of an elegant townhome in New York). Their fragile inflated salaries, fabricated out of cotton candy dynamics, were at stake. While the fountain of illusion still flowed they wanted to be there to fill up their jugs. And so the impasse remained an impasse.
By the way, US college student loan debt has surpassed a trillion dollars. To put that into graspable terms: if a business started at the time of the birth of Christ, and was open every day since, and accrued debt at the rate of one million dollars per day, it would be 700 years from now before that business would have a debt of one trillion dollars.
Whatever happened to the biblical mandate, "If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat"? Squeeze our current ideology, thoroughly wring it out for all its worth, and eventually we'll be plunged back into the 19th century. Someone has to work to make the raw materials, ship the raw materials, make them into salable products, retail them, etc. If we lie down on the job anywhere along the line (as we've now done in our society) we'll derail for good.
The root of this entitlement problem is that most youth (and much of the adult general population) of today is that they have never run a business. Start with entrepreneurial training of your children and you can turn this ship around, at least on some level. It begins with the lemonade stand. Teach your children that they never get to keep the whole dollar. They have to work to get the dollar to begin with, but then they have to pay for their supplies before they walk home with profits. Tell them before they set up the stand that you will be asking for money out of their profits to replenish your supplies—that they will be paying you for the paper cups, the sugar, and the lemons. Teach them what economies are all about by encouraging them to have realistic experiences with small businesses of their own. After that, compliment them, inspire them, give them enlarging tips and opportunities, and you'll have done your part to grow some business muscle in our nation.
Entitlement or entrepreneurialism? Take your pick and live with your outcomes. For more on this topic, see How Not to Waste Your Youth.