Ramblings from Georgia

Entitlement Attitude

Posted by apacheangel on March 10, 2011

I recently had the pleasure of hearing Nathan Deal, Congressman for the 9th district of Georgia. He spoke about the financial crisis, its cause, and what could be done to fix it. He was not a supporter of the infamous bailout bill, and voted against it both times. He began to speak about an entitlement attitude that Americans have developed, and he blamed it for the financial crisis. Everyone thinks that fundamental human rights have been extended. That owning a home, health care, retirement, education, higher education, and so much more, are not privileges but rights!

When did this entitlement attitude start? Some might say during the great depression, after all that was when some of our first and largest socialist programs were started, thanks to FDR’s New Deal. I am of the opinion that it goes further back, to the most egregious loss of liberty and freedom this country had experienced up to that time. I am speaking, of course, of the time period of the inaptly named Civil War, and the Reconstruction.

At the beginning of the Civil War, as my American Government professor so wisely pointed out, for the first time America had a president acting as king. He passed laws, declared war, and generally ran the country without congress, usurping congress’s authority, superseding separation of powers, and taking freedom from the states and the citizens of the United States. I believe that this was the beginning of the “don’t worry, the government will fix it” attitude.

Reconstruction, according to historians, actually started before the war ended, in 1863. They claim the Emancipation Proclamation was the beginning of Reconstruction, which I think to be a fair claim, and we will accept this date for this discussion.

Acts, amendments, and bills were flying around Washington during Reconstruction, trying to make right the consequences of an unjust and illegal war. However, what was right, and what the omniscient government saw as right, were two different things. In addition, there was so much fighting going on that no one could agree on much of anything. In spite of the bickering, they managed to pass three amendments, and several acts and bills. I will not go into a deep discussion of everything that was passed and the details and consequences of the bill or act, for the present, I would just like to focus on the 15th amendment.

Up until that time, voting was a privilege, and your privilege was determined by the state. Some states required that you own property or a business, some required a poll tax, there were different standards depending on your state. The 15th amendment took away the privilege and said that anyone could vote. I do find it interesting that women were excluded from this, but they gained that right with the 19th amendment 50 years later. This was the beginning. The government took a privilege, and rather than letting the states handle it, insisted that everyone have the right.

I was recently given rough statistics on voting. About 35%-40% of citizens eligible to vote are registered to vote. About 50% of eligible, registered voters actually vote. So, only about 20% of eligible citizens actually vote. Before voting was declared to be a fundamental right the percentage of those who could vote and did was 75%+. How far we have come by giving the privilege to everyone.

This was a very slippery slope. Once government decided they could usurp states’ rights, once they determined that they knew best, once they began to act on these decisions and determinations, there was no turning back, and it has only gotten worse. It has become so bad, that the government has deemed itself a national charity who can give out food, housing, and money to the poor and underprivileged, and help businesses that are in trouble, and in danger of bankruptcy and closure. What advancements we have made, what liberties we have surrendered!


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