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Entitlment

In: Social Issues

Submitted By volante328
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Abstract
Entitlement, as defined by The American Heritage Dictionary (1985), is "to furnish with a right or claim to something." The legal definition of entitlement as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2007), is “an individual’s right to benefits by law or contract.” “Entitlement Mentality” as defined by our textbook is the general belief that someone is owed something (for example, a job, an education, a living wage, or health care) just because she or he is a member of society (Carroll & Buchholtz, 2008). In this paper we will discuss the entitlement mentality of various demographic groups along with the other generations we have labeled, and how the idea of Pluralism plays a part in the Entitlement way of thinking as well. Along with how this mentality is perceived, why and how it’s been acquired by our new generation and how other generations played a part in this new mind set and the potential effect and how or what we can do to remedy the situation.

Introduction I would like to explain my background as I feel this will lay the groundwork for this paper and portray my personal beliefs as to why the various generations have played a part in my life and others lives as well. I myself was born in 1964 in Chicago the last year of the “Baby Boomer Generation” (1946-1965) one year before “Generation X’ (1965-1981) and from parents of the “Silent Generation” (1928-1945) and I now have children from the “Millennial” (1982-2009) or “Generation Y” (Pew, 2010). I am the oldest of 6 children my father is the son of Sicilian immigrants, and my mother is one of twelve children from a Irish Catholic family who for a while lived in Irish poverty before as my grandfather would say, that he got lucky and made it. My father (Frank) started working at around the age of 8 in his father’s (Tony) and grandfather (Frank) fruit store/stand, and he learned a very strong work ethic from an early age. In fact, as my father would like to say that both of his relatives worked themselves to death, although with the lack of education, and at the beginning a language barrier, they both did quite well for themselves in the “new” country. My father was the first Volante to graduate in 1966 with a Physic’s Degree going to night school at Loyola University in Chicago working full time at the family fruit store, and paying his own way as well. Although his father and grandfather did not fully comprehend why he was going to college as they assumed he would take over the fruit stand when the time came but his father had unwittingly sent him to a Jesuit high School in Chicago where a Priest suggested to my father that college was in his future. He was married at the age of twenty and by the time he did graduate my sister and I had already been born with another brother on the way, when he landed his first job as a Chemical Engineer at Bell and Howell making at that time $10,000 dollars a year a pretty good income for a 24 year old “kid.”. This was more money than his father and grandfather made together in one year it was then they understood the significance of my father’s decision. I myself learned at an early age that although my father had the means to pay for my basic and extra necessities it was generally understood growing up that I would have to pay for myself any extra necessities such as; special shoes or clothing, cars, insurance etc, but it was also understood by all of us children that we would go to college and he would pay for our education. Needless to say I worked quite a bit with various jobs cutting grass, shoveling snow, newspaper routes and I was able to buy anything extra I needed and during high school still working various part time jobs, I was also involve in 3 sports as well, my father made it quite apparent I would have no sense of entitlement and the ideals he was brought up with were passed on to me and my siblings.
The Beginning Stages The term “entitlement culture” was introduced about 1989 (retrieved from etymonline.com). What does it mean? What is an entitlement? The word seems to have originated from Middle English, via the French, meaning to receive the title of township or use of a property or an estate (retrieved from dictionary/reference.cm). One aspect of an entitlement is a subjective feeling of security or self-assurance. From its earliest days, a primary goal of the common law has been to induce a subjective sense of security (Super, 2004). People believing they have rights feel and act differently than those believing their well-being is at the sufferance of others. The extreme meaning today is that we have certain rights or entitlements merely because we exist as human beings. The ideas of entitlements have become entangled with the notion of basic human rights. The seeds for this situation were sown in modern times by President Roosevelt. Franklin D. Roosevelt during his State of the Union Address on January 11, 1945 he enumerated the following “rights”: The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation; The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation; The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living; The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad; The right of every family to a decent home; The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health; The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment; The right to a good education (retrieved from www.u-s-history.com). None of these so-called rights are found in the founding documents of the American Republic or in the United States Constitution. The key to America was the establishment of a Government that would lock-in the political rights of all American citizens’ life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The rights called for by FDR are all economically related issues. The key to these economic rights is who or what provides all of these blessings upon the suffering masses? Would it be the government, possibly your family, or even the next door neighbor? No one seems to know the answer to these questions. Maybe God is the source of these rights? We know from history that the religion well has been pumped to provide these entitlements saying they are from God. And these attempts have all ended in colossal failures. In fact, all attempts from any motivation have failed. This is the simple logic to entitlement thinking: it does not work-period. Here is why. U.S. President John F. Kennedy delivered his only inaugural address Friday, January 20, 1961. In this address he makes the statement, "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country" (retrieved from en.wikipedia.org). This is the attitude of a member of what has been called America’s greatest generation (Pew, 2010). JFK was born in 1917. He was a member of a very wealthy family and did not suffer the hardships that most of his generation did during the Great Depression. However, he fought for his country in the South Pacific and performed his duties as a good American. Since his call to duty for all Americans in which he asked for their self-sacrifice to contribute to the general well-being of our country, which was his last such expression, in his inauguration speech. We have since fallen into the “give me mine” mentality. Unfortunately today, many Americans want things without the need to work for them, or even in their minds they think these things are owed to them, or in some cases they won’t even try for them.
Simplistic Approach Economic Ecology means that all concerned parties are each doing their specific job which in turn provides the platform for each member to succeed, in other words it is viewed as sustainable development (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological). If we view ecology as an analog to an economic system, where we view society more comparable to each other than no member alone is isolated from the macro-economic community and no one exists out in an economic vacuum. Bees and flowering plants provide a good example. Plants need the pollinating activity of the bees to properly reproduce and the bees need the nectar from the plants to form their main food which is honey, notice this system usually works so well that the plants produce more seed bearing fruit then they need to reproduce and provide a good food source for other beings. Usually the bees produce more honey than they need, and once again provide a food source for other living creatures. This seems like a pretty good system. However, we live in an imperfect Universe, bad things can happen and they do happen. The bees could leave the plant’s domain or go extinct. Many animals have gone extinct over the ages. The plants could die under climatic stress, such as floods, wild fires or droughts. The main point here is usually overlooked by most scientists and other observers—neither the bees nor the plants know anything about this ecological process in which they participate! There is an obvious overriding force or process that controls the relationship of the bees and the plants, but the bees and the plants do not even know about it they each do their job and it all works out for the both of them. The same process is at work on sports teams, if each player does their job and performs their function as best as they can, then the team will succeed. The team may not win every game or even the final championship, because there may be better teams. And, of course, like with the plants and bees bad things will happen. There will be slumps, errors, and injuries. This is life. If we use the idea of a pluralistic society as one of our examples, then the team concept will play nicely into the fair and equitable integration of a diverse and pluralistic society. In fact, this idea of team work is or was America at its finest; we are all about teams in America. Give us a stable and politically free nation with free enterprise along with free association with our fellow citizens and we will take care of the economics of the nation. Also, remember, competition is the essential virtue of any team or team activity, competition implies merit, work, and recognition. This is another basic reason “the show-up and get a trophy mentality” is killing our nation, as it tends to destroy the team concept, if we promote the team concept in all areas of our life, especially economics we would be better off as a society. Notice that there is a spectrum of talents and gifts that are present in each member of the team some people are smarter, some more athletic, some more able to work under stress and pressures. Therefore, even under a good team-like society, some members will “have more” because of their natural gifts and the hard work to apply and exploit those gifts. Also remember the synergetic abundance of the bees and the plants, this surplus can be used to help the truly handicapped, the poor, and the sick. There will more than enough for all members of the national-political-economic team, and in turn the end result could benefit all of us.
Pluralism
Where or how does Pluralism fit within this entitlement mentality? As we know from our textbook readings a Pluralistic Society is one in which there is a wide decentralization and diversity of power (Carroll & Buchholtz, 2008). Pluralism was an idea or thought in particular here in America with the waves of immigrants at the turn of the 20th century with the vast diversity in cultures and religions. It gave birth to the premise of pluralism based in religious diversity but for our purposes here pluralism in its basic definition of which two or more groups can coexist and embraces economic diversity for all of these groups for economic profit (Jul., 2007, Martin E. Marty). Finally, a more eloquent definition of pluralism is a perspective that sees room for more than one good way of life for an individual or a society and acknowledges diverse perspectives on the truth. But the faith of pluralism is that values can be reconciled and that diverse perspectives do not reflect an underlying incoherence in reality itself (Goodman, Evan, 2012). This is all very nice, again we know from our textbook readings one of the weaknesses of a pluralistic society is that it creates a society with diverse groups pursuing their own self interests, with overlapping goals, thus creating confusion to best serve the society (Carroll & Buchholtz, 2008). As I mentioned earlier we know Pluralism was an idea that was adopted for the religious purposes initially here in the United States basically so all of the many different religions could somehow function with each other and thus our form of Pluralism was adopted, and is one of the cornerstones in our constitution for religious freedom by our founding fathers. But as a society we have seen the decay in the overall belief in religion across the country as many denominations have lost members with their current faiths. For example, I myself was born Catholic in Chicago at that the time it was the largest population of Catholics in the United States, there are now currently 64 million registered Catholics here in the United States only 45% of them attend church on a regular basis (retrieved from www.gallup.com). Pluralism (self-interest groups), had to find another avenue for its ideals and shifted its ideal on four major tenets of American society; social equality, social freedom, multiculturalism, and gender equity (Wallace, Leicht, 2004). On the surface these all seem like good cause’s as social equality is that all citizens should receive equal treatment, and as I mentioned earlier with social freedom it is for all citizens have the right to pursue “life, liberty, and happiness.” Multiculturalism is the principal that cultural diversity within the society is made stronger by the contributions of all people and Gender Equity is that all men and woman have equal rights and opportunities in society (Wallace, Leicht, 2004). All pretty solid principals on the surface however as with any idealism there are some drawbacks, social equality assumes everyone should receive a livable income regardless of their skills and abilities, and social freedom contends that people should live the lifestyle they want as long as it does not hurt anyone else. Multiculturalism is a problem because it’s too easy for people from other countries to come and live here in the U.S., and gender equality is pretty obvious that the family life suffers when the woman has a full-time job (Wallace, Leicht, 2004). The seeds of these ideals have lead America to the sense of entitlement as we continue to push and fight for all of these issues we have lost the idea of where we are as a society. Pluralism with all of its checks and balances so that no single group dominates has led to an environment in which each group of so-called do gooders leads to more groups without clear direction to bring together individual groups or a society together. Unfortunately it has led to groups for example; instead of fighting for an educational system in which we determine letter grades are more beneficial than the current numbering system of grading. Instead we are more interested in fighting for the rights of children, who are allergic to peanuts and or are lactose intolerant, and to keep this out of our schools or at the least these products should be clearly marked, and possibly should not be served in the school. The parents of these children have lost their focus in my eyes as we possibly could need some sort of educational reform, or we could at least try to strive for it, instead of worrying and setting up a picket line if the school serves peanuts. Or I have an idea about the peanuts how about we don’t eat them. As a side note what the hell is lactose intolerant?
Generational Disaster The silent generation (1928-1945), (Pew, 2010) endured many hardships with the great depression and the 2nd World War but basically was a generation of hard working people and a majority of these included were a lot of 1st and 2nd generation immigrants who were striving to realize the American dream. Their parents from the GI Generation (1901-1924), (Pew. 2010) were also immigrant based and as both generations came to this country to live the American dream, they blended into society immediately, and they learned the language, there was no need for the educational system to hire teachers for example, that spoke Italian, everyone learned English, quite a contrast from today where we hire teachers that speak Spanish to teach Spanish to people who can only speak Spanish, and then teach them in Spanish! The Baby Boomer Generation (1946-1965), (Pew, 2010) had the greatest prosperity of any generation in American history, the post World War II economic boon has been documented very extensively, and the hard work of previous generations paid off and the baby boomer generation was one of the most prosperous in the history of the United States (Pew, 2012). But here is where the problems start. With some of the major events playing out at that time with, Civil Rights, Vietnam War, the Drug Culture, and Sexual Freedom the baby boomers started to question authority which in turn affected the way they raised their children. It became quite apparent they were going to be better parents in their minds at least, and it changed their thinking towards parental discipline as the baby boomer generation during the 1960’s and the 1970’s challenged not just the way children were disciplined, but the concept of discipline itself (retrieved from www.opposingviews.com). Possibly due to the fact their parents and grandparents had very little tolerance for child disobedience and what could be construed in today’s day and age as child abuse. What did they know? They were trying to make it in a new country and there was not going to be any lack of effort from trying to do so, much less have to deal with children who had their own ideas. The general idea with the baby boomers was that discipline and or rules stifled creativity rather than simply telling their children what to do they believed parents should talk to children instead of at them (retrieved from www.opposingviews.com). Makes me think of my father as I was growing up in Chicago I was about 3 years old at the time and I distinctly remember my father told my sister and I, who was two years old at that time to stay out of the alley behind our house. Although I’m not sure I clearly remember how or when he told us not to play there, I’m sure at the time I did know. One day he came home and surprised us as we were riding out tricycles in the alley the only thing I do remember is that both my sister I froze when my father appear from what it seemed out of nowhere, he spanked us pretty good for disobeying him, I did not really understand at the time the punishment but I never played in the alley again, unfortunately a few months later another child got hit by a car in that same alley, although not tragic but a learning lesson none the less. I myself a baby boomer although with different views of discipline incorporating the “old school” beliefs I had learned from my father along with some modern day techniques, I had an instance where my son ran into the street I went after him with the mindset to spank him to stay out of the street. My wife (baby boomer all the way) wanted me to talk to him and explain to him why we don’t run out into the street he was two at the time, so I “talked” to him a few times but he continued to run out into the street, after a while I decide enough was enough and I spanked him when I finally caught up with him. From then on when he came to the curb he stopped and he remembered the thought of a spanking and it made him hesitate whereas the “speech” I gave to him did no good, believe me he understood the ramifications of running in the street by my actions whereas if I continued to talk to him he could possibly be seriously hurt. The problem with this parenting style (talking) it dismisses the line between adult and child thus neither party understands their roles. With this clear breakdown in authority which is evident in our schools as well as our homes the children and society pay the price, whereas previous generations were restrictive, baby boomers were permissive. Whereas previous generations gave orders, baby boomers negotiated. Mothers and fathers had been the parents; baby boomers became equals, co-playmates, and did not hang out with friends, they had play dates. And we’re seeing the fruit of that approach. We’re seeing kids who are disconnected, disaffected, materialistic, filled with a misplaced sense of entitlement and sometimes, just flat-out spoiled (retrieved from www.opposingviews.com). Unfortunately the baby boomer generation was so anxious to have good relationships with their children they forgot to be parents which in turn created a self centered demanding child who thinks the world revolves around them (retrieved from www.opposingviews.com). Since we are all a product of the generations before us our behaviors and attitudes are the strongly influenced by our parents. The baby boomers took it to another level as they were determined to be better parents because they felt their parents did not have any sense of parenting skills due to the fact the focus of their parents was on providing for the family which in turn led them to believe they were not loved or cared for. They held their kids in high regard and the overwhelming focus on their children led to or created a sense of entitlement. Now what about the children of the baby boomers who were now buddies with their parents who are now known as Generation X? The now called Generation X (1965-1981), (Pew, 2010) who are the basically the parents of our current generation how are they as parents? Generation X children were born during one of the most blatantly anti-child phases in history. The U.S. divorce rate tripled during the birth years of Generation X, resulting in a new era of single parent homes, stepfamilies, and split custody. Abortion rates were at their highest, along with dual income families; parenting habits were permissive and children were often left alone to care for themselves (Codrington & Grant-Marshall, 2004). How did this happen? After all of the baby boomers ideas on parenting and communicating with their children and its acceptance on changing the rules as a parent does it go much deeper? Could we say that the baby boomers became selfish or were selfish and only thought of themselves and what they could get, what they could have. Maybe the parenting skills they adopted were a copout and it was just an excuse to neglect their parental duties by becoming a “friend” to their child, meanwhile in reality they only cared about themselves. Should they be called the selfish generation? There is plenty of blame to go around, a lack or loss of religion, materialism, laws enacted for sexual freedom, such as abortion, divorce became common, no wonder why the kids are screwed up today. As much as the baby boomers had going for them with the post World War II economic boom they had a lot of issues that were self-induced as they entered adulthood. Not in the negative sense where the majority of them unknowingly were brought up with solid although somewhat aggressive family values, the world was changing, and the freedoms they experienced were somewhat skewed. Finally, the Baby Boomers may be experiencing guilt related to relationships in their lives. We recognize members of Generation X by their independent, determined nature. Born to parents who were working hard to give their children everything they needed or did not need in some cases they became the most unsupervised generation in history with the breakup of the family unit and or a working mother. Attending many developmental programs and coming home to empty houses and they were left to entertain themselves. They became reliant on themselves and harnessed a distrust of authority, such as schools, churches, and of course their parents. The parents of Generation X convinced their children that they could have and do anything. Their resulting self-reliant and confident nature is often perceived as selfish and very attention oriented. This generation will likely raise issues of resentment and abandonment after having been left alone. They may also present with depressive symptoms resulting from falling short of their parents’ and their own lofty and perfection based goals (retrieved from counselingoutfitters.com). So how does this all lead to an entitlement mentality and how do the baby boomers cope with this new somewhat self inflicted epidemic? A significant demographic shift is now occurring as members of the "Baby Boomer Generation" (1946-1964) pass from the workforce into retirement. They take with them a work ethic driven by success, ambition, high achievement and a loyalty to their careers and organizations (Alexander, Sysco, 2012). Members of the "Baby Boomer Generation", who are often in the upper echelon of corporate management; and the mid or lower level managers from "Generation X" are confronted, and confounded, by the ambiguous attitudes and conflicting behavior of their Millennial employees. Managers in the latter generation are particularly frustrated when they contrast their "sink or swim" entry into the workforce with the organizational "accommodations" offered to Millennials. Nonetheless, understanding and adapting to this new generation's work ethic will be critical to the restored, continued or future success of American business and industry (Alexander, Sysco, 2012). Of course we now know that entitlement mentality is the sense of thinking your special and that you think or at least think the current generation expects to always have this feeling of entitlement as they move through life it is a epidemic that must be overcome as the next generation and or generations moves thru life cycle. Generation X of those who are under the mindset of the entitlement mentality often show signs of being overly spoiled, completely dependent upon others and their parents, frequently complaining about meaningless problems, full of envy and anger, dismissing themselves from any type of excruciating endeavors and jobs that exhort too much thinking, and basically are poor winners and losers. They can be identified as children in adult bodies, and like children, with the entitlement mentality will show displays of child like systems when they don't get what they want, especially if what they want belongs to someone who are already has it or deserves it. These “adults” are known to find fault with anyone and will take someone to court with people who they think are disagreeing with them, especially if they think it will buy them time to support themselves. They feel entitled; not only to what they need, but what they could possibly have but also to what they want not caring if that someone or person worked hard for what they got. The idea that someone else worked hard for it makes them think they deserve it as well as their appetite for things they never earned is never enough. The only control for this mindset is self-control, which they are severely lacking. The only salvation is possible a divine one but the possibility of this happening is remote because they are too caught up in the mindset of entitlement mentality, and religion or common sense is the furthest things from their minds.
Conclusion
As we can see there can be many reasons why we have the mentality of entitlement particularly here in the United States, we have for a lack of a better term been spoiled with all of the advantages most of us have had the privilege to obtain. Even our under privileged enjoy some entitlements some that people expect some they actually need, but it’s not that hard to get some type of support within this country. We should as the largest economic power in the world be able to help out those that really need the help but yet not require the sense of entitlement, if they are in need we should help them but they should not assume that the entitlement will be given just because they assume so. A good example is a perfectly healthy college graduate still living at home, who has been working for a while after graduation and decides he is tired of working. He decides to slack off on the job and after a couple of months he is let go for his poor performance, in the majority of states you can collect unemployment if you are fired for poor performance. Our college graduate already knows about this, and he is slacking off because he knows he will get the benefits, he can spin it anyway he wants to with his parents, and it may be a running joke while he is out with his friends that he got tired of working and was just going to live on unemployment and then when it runs out he will just get another job. We all know people like this, this is an obvious exaggeration of the sense of entitlement but not by much, this is the same child who by no coincidence is still living at home. Yet from my early part of this paper we can see the seeds were sown for this entitlement mentality by our Presidential leaders from the past starting with the “New Deal” era which allowed the baby boomer generation although they hid it under the guise of being better parents then the previous generation to be less than adequate parents with no family unit as they continued to do what they wanted. Here is my issue I love America and what it stands for in being a second generation Sicilian, I grew up with an excellent work ethic that I have passed on to my children, my parents although not perfect taught us to be good citizens, people, and to respect others. We live in a Capitalistic Society which if I remember in class a few sessions ago it leads to a socialistic society followed by a communistic one. In my mind it seems close, if you really look at America if we would have not been so loose in the 1960’s and the 1970’s and all of the laws that were passed most importantly abortion. We would have almost 400 million people living here most of them white and there would have been no room for illegal immigration as we average about one million abortions a year. But that is for another time and place to discuss, I think we can safely say that the America is in trouble if we continue on our current trend of the entitlement mentality.

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