Yesterday I wrote about poverty and how the two different ideologies, conservatism and liberalism, approach it. For today’s post the focus will mostly be on liberalism because I feel they are largely responsible for where we are now. With that said, we do have to realize conservatives also must share some blame, partly from complacency but also for some there has been complicity.
I believe the sense of entitlement has it’s origins in the 1960’s and President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.
This set the stage for the welfare policies of the 1970’s, 1980’s, and a fair portion of the 1990’s.
The welfare policies in place then made it punitive for mothers to be married. This certainly was not the goal of the programs (one would like to hope) but it was definitely the result.
Women were given more money if they were a single mother, or, less if they were married. While it could be reasonably argued that a single mother has it tougher and needs the assistance, these policies had the undesirable effect of giving women an incentive to not get married.
There also was the added bonus of receiving more assistance for having more children.
This was a double blow to the family structure in the US and helped lay the foundation for our entitlement culture.
Yesterday I wrote about poverty in the US. I feel that a lot of today’s poverty woes and the sense of entitlement that follows it is the direct result of the breakdown of the American family and I attribute a lot of this to the war on poverty and the ensuing welfare policies.
Because of these policies we had a significant portion of a generation of Americans who grew up without a father in the household. We had single mothers raising children.
These mothers were less likely to have a high school education and far less likely to have post secondary training. Due to this, there was less of a chance they would have a full appreciation for the value of education and therefore less likely to instill this value in their children.
They were less able to discipline and control their children on their own. Less able to keep them in school. Less able to keep them from becoming involved in criminal activity.
We had a generation of children that grew up without an appreciation for education, without someone to model a strong work ethic. Some communities now have less than a 50% graduation rate, 25% of ninth graders in Detroit will graduate. Unemployment and underemployment is endemic in this culture.
Add to this the fact that we instilled in these children that a family does not need two parents. We raised a generation of girls who believed a child, or children, out of wedlock was okay. A generation of boys that had no sense of responsibility for the children they were producing. It is easy to be critical of these people but a person is what we teach them.
This culture morphed from one in which a lack of education, lack of a two-parent household, and an unwillingness to work for a living was not only tolerated but expected, defended, and celebrated.
Many in this culture had open disdain for education. Education was looked upon with derision. Children were not only not encouraged to go to school but were often ridiculed by their peers if they attempted to learn.
Single motherhood became celebrated. I grew up in an impoverished area of Flint, Michigan in the 70’s. I remember going to high school basketball games and it being quite fashionable for the high school moms to bring their babies to the games. The fathers weren’t there and if they were they had no interest in the child, it wasn’t their problem.
Unemployment wasn’t frowned upon, it was envied as the ability to hang out and have fun without being encumbered with having to work. These people didn’t have to punch a clock.
People no longer were ashamed to get welfare, recipients openly talked about going to the welfare office. People began to grumble if they were not receiving enough or because someone harassed them at the welfare office about getting a job.
Finally, possibly the most devastating blow to the notion that one should work for what they have, welfare recipients were punished financially if they worked. If a mother were to make an attempt to go out, find a job, and earn money to raise her family out of poverty, she saw her welfare benefits cut. This created a disincentive to work for a living.
These people had children and the cycle continued. These children were now being raised in households that not only had the belief that assistance was to be tolerated but expected.
We had politicians that made a living off of this expectation. If you have the belief that you are entitled to assistance and a local politician says he or she will fight for this assistance, and delivers, who will you vote for?
These politicians helped bring us to where we are today.
People began to feel as if they were owed a living, health care was a right, and any notion that one should earn any of this was heartless and, often racist.
These people elected like-minded politicians. They elected politicians who were socialistic or communistic at nature. Many of them were themselves raised in the welfare culture. Their lives were one of entitlement.
These politicians knew that if they wanted to keep their jobs, they had to keep the people of their district satisfied. These politicians had an easy audience. They had people that were largely uneducated and felt they were owed a living by the government.
They always promised and occasionally delivered. It was this promising that helped perpetuate the notion of entitlement. They told their constituents exactly what they wanted to hear. They convinced themselves they were helping their constituents.
This belief is the crux of today’s post.
We complain about the entitlement. We talk about how they feel this way. The reality is, they believe this.
I listened to a woman speak one day at a conference. She was a director at an Emergency Room and she was a great speaker. Her talk was primarily on customer service.
As with all ER nurses and doctors, she loved telling stories. The funny thing was that she told the same stories that we tell. It seems idiocy is universal across the country.
She said something that stuck with me. She was talking about how we all complain about the people that want medications or something else free from the ER but they will have expensive painted nails or they smoke. This is a common frustration for us.
Anyways, she said “they are missing this page from their book”. In other words, they don’t get it. It is not maliciousness, they really believe it is okay for them to have other people support them.
I see this in the ER. People are so casual about asking for help. Many of us would be devastated to have to admit we need a stranger to buy Tylenol for our child. These requests are made in conversational tones. No down-looking awkwardness, they could have been asking me if I knew what time it was. If we have the nerve to make the suggestion that unbranded acetaminophen works just as well and is very cheap at Walmart, etc, they are outraged.
This is not to excuse the behavior, simply making a point.
So, tomorrow the question is, what do we do? Is there a way to change societal attitudes or is this the new normal?