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Archive for May 2020

May 1, 2020

Social Security, Medicare, Veterans’ Benefits: Please Don’t Call Them “Entitlements”

Im entitled!
“I’m entitled!”

Social Security. Medicare. Veterans’ disability and other benefits. For tens of millions of Americans, they’ve come hard earned: through decades of work, hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll tax payments, and through the sacrifice of health, mobility, sight, or other basic bodily functions most of us take for granted. These government programs are all that stands between many Americans and abject poverty.

For some politicians and opinion makers, however, they’re “entitlements,” or even “entitlement spending.”

Words mean things. They also imply and suggest things, often covertly. These words provide a particularly disturbing example of just how damaging a hidden emotional message that flies under the radar of critical thinking can be.

“Entitlement” sounds innocuous enough, but it’s objectionable because it conjures up the image of a privilege that neither was earned nor is really needed, but that the recipient refuses to forego because he or she is—well, entitled.

“Entitlement spending” takes this line of thought a step further. It suggests—and is intentionally portrayed as—a troublesome class of government programs that mindlessly crank out, as if on autopilot, ever increasing sums to the “entitled.” The high cost of these programs, so the reasoning goes, depletes the government’s coffers, and makes it necessary to cut funding in other areas where it is more urgently needed.

In reality, the exact opposite is true.
[Read more]

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