Entitlement in America is getting worse

I just read an article on the NY Post website that drives me nuts. Some girl took out $70,000.00 in student loans but when she graduated she couldn’t find a job. Instead of taking whatever she could find, she decided to sue the college for $70k complaining that they didn’t do enough to find her a job.  Here’s the original article.

One thing that is encouraging is that the majority of the comments are ridiculing her for being opportunistic, generally lacking a good work ethic and pointing out that none of our founding documents talks about the “right to a job”.  One comment pointed out the irony that she’s looking for a job in IT, but due to this frivolous lawsuit she’s getting a ton of exposure on the internet.  Why would any company want to hire her now?

We need to get past all this entitlement if we want to recover from the current recession.  Get out and work whatever you can find.  If you really are  worth the money you want to make, people will take notice and you’ll find the progression from one position to another happens quite naturally.

US Credit Crunch and the Bailout Blunder

In case you haven’t noticed there are a lot of frantic economists running around right now talking about the credit crunch.  Of course they’re also pleading with the US government to dig up another 700 billion dollars (did you know that’s nine zeros?) to give to the banks that are about to fail.  I suppose that it’s expected that we should be concerned about banks failing and the stock marketing falling and rising unemployment, and all that stuff.  But I’m really surprised at the response of the poeple.

So, is the credit crunch really the problem?  The only thing I can think about is a slight modification to the story about the emporer has no clothes.  Imagine that the little boy, you know, the only one with courage to state that the emporer had no clothes on.  Well, imagine that instead of saying that the emporer had no clothes instead decided to point out that his clothes were so fine and exposing that all of the engineers in the empire needed to undertake a weather modification project to ensure that around the emporer the humidity, temperature, etc. were just right.  Of course, the money for the project goes to the same engineers that provided him with his *new* space age outfit.

Does that sound a bit far fetched?  Well, essentially what we’re doing is taking 700 billions dollars against the deficit (they’re guaranteeing it with the US taxpayer) and giving that to the same people that started the mess in the first place.  This, they are hoping, will inspire those banks to loan money again to other people that don’t have enough operating capitol.  Those who borrow are hoping that others will also borrow to purchase their stuff and so we all go happily along our way still living on debt, except that for a while we can pretend that we don’t have a problem.  Didn’t we just make the whole 700 billions dollars deeper?  Do we really want to end the credit crunch?

Well, I’m sure that many will be quick to point out that I’m sooo old school.  “No one lives on cash any more…” They’ll tell me.  Well, I remember learning when I was young that you spend less than you make, and so I do.  One of the most surprising things I read recently was commentary about the house first rejecting the bail-out package.  In particular was the commentary by JOHN CAPIN, where he states that his entire business relies on credit.  I would be embarrassed to say that my entire business was teetering on the brink of oblivion because I didn’t operate within my revenue, but relied on credit.  How do you think his employees feel knowing that their payroll is tied into his credit?  That’s freaky

The other thing that’s so strange to me is that the discussion over the 700 billion dollar bail-out seems to be a matter of who gets the money, not whether we do it.  What I mean is that the vocal group opposing the bail-out think that the money should somehow come back to the people, not to wallstreet.  Why should there be one in the first place?  I might be wrong on this, so add your comments, but if it’s true, GIVE IT UP!  Take a minute and think to yourself, why should we borrow any more money against our current deficit, when using money that’s wasn’t on hand to begin with is responsible for this whole mess?

So, the credit crunch is hard for America because of an excess of American Entitlement and a complete lack of American Accountability.

Whoo.  After that whole rant, let me say that I’m not ignorant to the pitfalls of not doing anything.  The godfather of investing, Warren Buffet, is articulate and clear on the subject in this video.  But I wonder how he, or anyone else in the financial industry, would explain the way this can work without just putting off the collapse.  Can this somehow really prevent the recession (if that’s really what’s going on)?  If so, how can more debt save us from bad debt?

I admit that I’m far from an expert, but there are a few principles that I grew up with (and I thought were very American), that no one seems to be on board with anymore.  They are:

  • Live debt free
  • Don’t buy when someone is pressuring you (like congress pressuring us about this bail-out deal)
  • Spend less than you make to build up savings

American entitlement and personal accountability

I just read an article that I agree with very much.  Here it is if you’re intersted: Glenn Beck: Too bad, Michigan and Florida.

I’ve long been concerned about the growing trend of entitlement in America.  Whether the topic of discussion is welfare, poverty, education, highways, water rights, or any other current issue, there seems to be a growing sentiment among all Americans: “You owe it to me!”.  Somewhere along the way there was a generation that picked up the idea that, work or not, they deserved to have expensive homes and cars, luxurious vacations, and privileged access to everything that the generation before them worked a lifetime to obtain.

One billboard in particular comes to mind.  It read “Get Married, Get a Home”.  In the background was a picture of a 3000 square foot home with a large yard, brilliantly landscaped, and a grand entrance.  It was nicer than the home my parents lived in near the end of my father’s career.  Meanwhile I wondered how I would be able to afford rent for me and a young wife, let alone a huge home like that.  But marketing like that has generated a perceived “need” in young people that owning a home is a rite of passage.

Perhaps one of the most concerning side effects of this new entitlement attitude is the growing list of truly valuable achievements that our generation is forgoing.  For example, there are many young people that choose work over higher education so they can acquire the cars, homes or other status symbols that they have been taught to value.  Many young couples put off having children or place them in child care rather than live with less.  As a result, a new generation of children are growing up to understand that family comes in second to the house, cars, trips, etc.

One quote that comes to mind I read many years ago in the book The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. It is about education and ones ability to serve the cause (or deed) that they love. How much energy is wasted by the youth of our day, who approach the challenges of life, under-prepared and undisciplined?

…unfortunately, these young men do not understand that the sacrifice of life is, perhaps, the easiest of all sacrifices in many cases, while to sacrifice, five or six years of their ebulliently youthful life to hard, difficult studies, to learning, in order to increase tenfold their strength to serve the very truth and the very deed that they loved and set out to accomplish – such sacrifice is quite often almost beyond the strength of many of them.

One of the biggest problems with this new entitlement mentality is that it is not sustainable.  Debt comes due too quickly.  High paying jobs are hard to come by quickly and often require higher education.  Poor planning and living paycheck to paycheck can make a small problem quickly become a financial crisis.

As Glenn Beck pointed out, the answer this generation seems to give is a bunch of excuses.  They eventually walk away.  Whether it’s bankruptcy, foreclosure, or passing the bill on to Mom and Dad, we seem to be losing our capacity to take responsibility.

For those of you wondering where we can find examples in American history of leaders taking responsibility and leading responsibly, you need look no further than George Washington.  He was aware that the most influential factor leading up to the American Revolution was the heavy tax laid on the people in the colonies by Britain.   He was always extremely cautious to keep government small and to serve, not burden, the people.

Eventually the tab will come due and if it’s not this generation it will be the next.  We would do well to remember the reasons for the establishment of our independence and let that motivate us to once again liberate ourselves from debt, vice and cling to honesty hard work and virtue.

Why should I vote? Will my vote matter?, by Rachel Watrous

This article, written by my wife Rachel, is from Volume 3 (October 2004), which can be downloaded here.

It is important to vote. My vote matters, and your vote matters. In 1873, Susan B. Anthony, fighting for women’s rights, cited the preamble to the Federal Constitution beginning with “We, the people,” and said:

“It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people – women as well as men. And it is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government – the ballot. ”

Today, no woman is denied the right to the vote, but any person who does not go to the polls on November 2, forfeits the opportunity to participate in our national dialogue. “We, the people” includes me and you and every citizen of the United States. Every voice is important. Each vote is a tool in forming the union of the United States of America as it is today.

As I anticipate Election Day, I feel excited to exercise my right to vote, to participate in the national dialogue, to prove my resolve to defend my position on today’s issues. As you and I and every citizen of this country meet at the polls on November 2, we can again say that “We, the people” will work to form a more perfect union!

Same gender unions: an issue of moral principle

This article is from Volume 3 (October 2004), which can be downloaded here.

There is presently a great deal of turmoil throughout our nation over the issue of same gender unions. However, the reason for so much turmoil is not always clear. Some say that the issue is on the order of inalienable human rights, while others argue that it is simply a matter of personal preference. Regardless of where each individual stands there are tender feelings in the hearts of many over the outcome of this momentous decision. Who has the right to decide and on what grounds should the decision be made? To be clear, the decision affects the legally enforceable privileges extended to persons of the same gender that seek a publicly acknowledged union. This decision is one of morality and must be approved by the people and executed by the government of the land. I appeal to the arguments of the article Morality and Religion DO have a place in Politics and Government to show that government, by the voice of the people, must be responsible for ensuring a solid foundation of public morality.

There has been much scientific debate over whether same gender attraction is some verifiable condition of human physiology and thus those subject to it are incapable of choosing otherwise. Regardless of the varied findings, the issue of same gender attraction is one of preference. Despite contentions to the contrary, “sexual orientation” is not comparable to race, religion and ethnicity [ref 2]. The decision is one of morality, and ought to be addressed as such.

Similarly, the argument that to grant or deny same gender unions is a matter of human rights is not correct. The Declaration of Independence establishes the first formal position of this government on the issue of Human Rights: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” It is important to note that if Human Rights are given from God, and not man, that God cannot be separated from those Rights. It should also be understood that persons that subscribe to such a preference are not excluded from receiving basic Human Rights protection under the law. The question then is whether or not Marriage is included in the scope of Human Rights. I answer this question with a question, if someone is not allowed to enter into a publicly acknowledged union of his/her preference is he/she robbed of Life, Liberty, or the pursuit of Happiness? I suppose that the pursuit of Happiness will be the most argued, to which I would ask, How does public acknowledgment of his/her preferred union make him/her more able to pursue happiness?

Perhaps there is some merit in reviewing the history of marriage. The first recorded definition of marriage is found in the Bible, carefully set in what believers in the Bible call the Creation. The record of the Creation not only records the first marriage, but defines one of its primary purposes to be procreation. For all people, believers and non-believers alike, there is merit in this association of the marriage union and procreation. They are intertwined and inseparable. Procreation cannot occur without the physical union of a man and a woman. This notion of marriage and its purpose of procreation dates back to biblical times, during which history there have been few societies that have questioned its truth or application.

Being a moral decision, the voice of the people must make the choice. Government will then be empowered to execute the law and the judicial process will be guided in its interpretation of the constitutional decree. The concept of government by the voice of the people has long been accepted in our nation. One of the most disturbing comments I have heard on this topic was from a university student. He said that the people at large would be subjected to a “tyrannical majority”. The idea that a minority voice should overrule the voice of the people, for any reason whatsoever, is not and can never become a tenet of our political process. It is the voice of the people that moves this nation. Since it is by our voice that the laws are made and representatives elected, we find ourselves compelled to adhere to the standards set forth by them. Without that assurance that the voice of the people will rule, our nation will crumble out from underneath us.

How to decide on the issue of same gender unions must be guided by moral principle. Similarly it is inappropriate to consider it a matter of Human Rights, or to let such considerations determine its outcome. Marriage is defined by religion and God to be set forth for a particular purpose and historically has enjoyed special legal protections. These religious principles are supported by nearly 90% of Americans today [ref 1]. Many of the legal protections afforded to marriage have their historical and practical base in one of the primary purposes of marriage, namely the process of rearing families. This historical perspective must not be abandoned to a supposed new enlightenment, but rather must guide us as a sustainable model for protecting family in our society.

Regardless of the outcome, some will take offense. To the degree possible we as a society must use great care in securing Human Rights, while at the same time securing Family Rights. We owe it to our families and our God to vote in favor of morality; in favor of Family; in favor of measures calculated to define marriage as a union between a Man and a Woman.

Sources

  1. February and March Pew Research Council survey of 2,002 adults found that 89% of Americans believed in God.
  2. Given in a rebuttal to an argument against Utah Constitutional Amendment number 3 by Lavar Christensen, D. Chris Buttars and Margaret Dayton, and published in the 2004 Utah Voter Information Pamphlet.