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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Nobody owes you a thing

    The word entitlement can best be defined as “granting somebody the right to have or to do something.” Over the past few decades, Americans have become overwhelmingly accustomed to entitlements like never before. We have adopted the idea that we are owed and that we deserve something, if not everything. We have embraced this idea that we are owed things like health care, higher education, tax breaks and subsidies under our government.

    This idea most likely begins in the home. It is safe to say that most parents want more for their children than what they had when they were a child. Unknowingly, they send the message to their kids that their children deserve more. Most of us see this sense of entitlement with friends or people we interact with on a regular basis. We all know someone who thinks that their parents owe them the latest gadgets, a new car or even a college education.

    Society continues to send us a message that we should not be denied. This inevitably carries over into many college classes. Some students expect professors to make special concessions for them because their previous teachers in high school did so. They often feel entitled to extensions on papers and extra credit. Some believe the college or university owes them simply because they pay tuition, and some even believe that they are flat out owed a college education on somebody else’s dime. What happened to the notion that working hard for the things we want is what will make us appreciate them that much more?

    The children who grow up with a sense of entitlement evolve into many of the citizens in our society that burden it. This is where ideas of health care, tax breaks and subsidies come into focus.

    Today our government spends a record amount of money each year on these “privileges.” Each year, taxpayers spend billions of dollars on programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. There are tax breaks for homeowners, subsidies for farmers and funding for housing and food. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that, this year, taxpayers will spend roughly $562.8 billion on Medicare alone. Add another $252.5 billion for Medicaid and one can see where we are headed. This doesn’t include Social Security benefits or President Barack Obama’s new health care law.

    Americans have grown to believe that the government is responsible for almost every facet of our lives. As citizens we have let the government grow bigger because we expect more from them. The government is so big that it consists of almost 40 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. Today we have almost 40 million people living on government-issued food stamps. The government is paying off people’s personal mortgages, bailing out large corporations like AIG and Solyndra, and it controls all student loans for higher education rather than allowing private firms to offer financial support.

    Because we are so focused on our tunnel vision of entitlements, we have put ourselves in a very precarious situation. We are more than $14 trillion in debt. We are in a national crisis and we have no choice but to cut the spending on some of these entitlements.

    The government has forgotten its sole responsibility to protect its citizens. Instead, it is trying to make us dependent on it. The blatant truth is that taxpayers (who fund the government) should not be responsible for making sure everyone has the same equalities. It is not the job of the taxpayer, but the job of the individual. The government should strive to teach people the tools and skills necessary for its citizens to take care of themselves, not automatically assume that we want or need certain things.

    Americans need to wake up and realize that nobody owes them anything. We are protected under the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s nobody else’s job but our own to take care of ourselves. If we want more, it is up to us as individuals to go out and earn it.

    — Joshua Segall is a management information systems senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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