Entitlement Mentality

Recently Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor sat down with Aspen Institute’s Latinos and Society Program Executive Director Abigail Golden-Vazquez for a chat about civic engagement, Latinos, and opportunities. I will say I agree with her on the importance of education and civic engagement – not just for Latinos, but for everyone! The issues she discussed aren’t endemic to just Latinos. When she says, “None of us can afford to be bystanders in life. We create our community, and we create it by being active participants in our community,” it shouldn’t be limited to Latinos, or to anyone of a particular ethnicity, religious affiliation or lack thereof.

A lot of the challenges with a lack of civic participation are not limited to Latinos. When Sotomayor says, “If you’re working 14 hours a day at your job, it is hard to make time for civic participation. And for many Latinos, that’s the quality of their life. We have to engage with that reality,” this is not an insurmountable problem faced only by Latinos. It’s one that plagues much of the working class. Latinos aren’t the only ones working multiple jobs more than 14 hours per day and the weekends. But we make time, and we do what we can. And sometimes we don’t get a lot of sleep. And many times we don’t have free time on the weekends. That’s just the way it is, but we sacrifice for the things that are important. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that.

And no, it’s not fair that some people inherit immense wealth, giving them opportunities to attend the best schools without accruing massive debt.

And no, it’s not fair that some kids get to grow up without ever worrying about how much something costs, while others – that’s their first concern.

And no, it’s not fair that some kids grow up in cramped apartments, while others live in opulent mansions.

There are a lot of things that aren’t fair. Life isn’t fair. And yet, we all work to make our own opportunities.

Which is why this bit from Sotomayor’s conversation galled me.

“There’s a continuing tension in America between the image of the person who pulls themselves up by the bootstraps, and the person who believes that you need a lift to get up sometimes,” Sotomayor told the program’s executive director, Abigail Golden-Vazquez. “Those people who believe that everyone must pull themselves up ― they don’t believe that people are entitled to help.”

“For those of us who understand that sometimes no matter how tall the heel on your boot is, the barrier is so high that you need a small lift to help you get over it ― they will understand that the inequalities in society build that barrier so high,” she continued. “Unless you do something to knock it down or help that person up, they will never have a chance. I had those things. I had a unique mother who was able to understand the benefits of education and encouraged me to use education as my liftoff. But not everyone knows that.”

For a jurist on the nation’s highest court, perhaps she needs a lesson in English.

It’s not that we don’t believe in help. I’m more than happy to help – whether it’s by donating time or money – those who are in need. But there’s a difference between asking for help and being entitled to it.

The definition of “entitled” is: believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

Sorry, but this is where she lost me.

No one is ENTITLED to my help.

No one is ENTITLED to the fruits of my labor.

No one is ENTITLED to what I earn – to assets that should be going, first and foremost, to help me and my family – simply because they consider themselves deserving of said assets.

Need is not a claim check.

It’s not a claim check to my work. It’s not a claim check to the fruits of my efforts. It’s not a claim check to my sympathies.

No one is entitled to anything produced by another person without that person’s willingness to give it. The value people get in exchange for helping others is determined by that person alone – whether it’s the satisfaction of helping a fellow human being, or a promise of repayment or work – and not by politicians in power who think that forcing people to give up their earnings to “help,” which usually comes in the form of a handout that keeps people dependent or a bureaucracy that does squat, is the way to get those greedy rich people to contribute.

Everyone understands that sometimes people need a hand. It’s just that we also understand that undermining others to level the playing field is not really leveling the playing field, but crippling others so everyone exists on the same field of misery. That’s not helping those who need help. It’s merely crippling the competition, and negating the need for the person to put forth effort to help themselves.

That’s what I think about when I see this graphic.

It’s not just taking away two boxes from the tall person, who can see over the fence. What Sotomayor and other statist politicians want is to cripple the tall person, so they can’t stand to see at all. They want equality of outcome at any cost – even at the cost of crippling those they consider privileged.

Equality of opportunity is equality before the law. It’s the understanding that you will not be prevented by those in power from pursuing your goals, whether they’re educational, professional, or personal.

The graphic depicts equality of outcome, which looks really good in that little picture, but assumes silliness, such as 1) the tall person needs the box to see in the first place 2) there exists an equal number of boxes 3) the tall person wouldn’t willingly give up the box they don’t need to help out the short person, and 4) the means to sustain your family, the fruits of your labor, the value of your work, the results of your achievements are somehow identical to a fucking box!

You take away a box from the tall guy in that graphic, the worst that will happen is he won’t see a baseball game.

You disadvantage a kid because you feel he’s too privileged by giving away an educational opportunity to someone you consider underprivileged, but who may not have earned it, and you have just figuratively crippled him.

You reject a college applicant, who may have higher grades, who may have worked harder, and who may have participated in more extracurricular activities in favor of a poor kid, who may have had to work after school to help support his family, or just didn’t have the talent or the drive to get the grades, and all you’ve done is taken away an opportunity from one human being and handed it to another, with the government as the arbiter of who is more deserving, rather than objective achievement.

You deny a job to an applicant with superior skills, because said applicant happens to be white/cis/male/*insert privilege here*, and you’ve just screwed a superior applicant AND your company, or worse yet, you’ve allowed the government to do it for you – to pick a winner and loser based on arbitrary politicians’ whims.

You take earnings away from one family to feed/clothe/educate another – even though may be a noble goal – and that’s that much less that family has to spend on their own food, on their own sick kids, on their ailing parents, on their leaking roof, or their car repairs.

Helping a person up does not and should not mean, crippling another to “level the playing field.”

And yes, sometimes life is unfair. Yes, some people are more fortunate than others. But to people like Sotomayor, “pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps” is somehow a negative thing, because we won’t always be successful, and because we have to work harder than some others to succeed. She assumes that certain demographics simply CAN’T succeed and achieve without government force giving them an advantage.

I find that to be an abhorrent prejudice against said demographics. Fact is they can and do succeed. You can’t tell me that Do Won Chang, who started Forever 21 after immigrating to the United States from South Korea, in 1981 and worked three jobs simultaneously, as a gas station clerk, a janitor and a coffee shop employee had a level playing field. No, he simply worked harder, even though he started out penniless, without much English, and without a college degree.

My own parents came to this country without English, and with $300 in their pockets, and they are now comfortably retired – without ever having asked the government for a hand up, because they didn’t feel they were entitled to it.

People can and do succeed, even without the advantage of starting out rich. To claim they cannot, because they have brown or black skin, and therefore are in more need of help than others, is a pernicious, racist lie.


24 responses

  1. Not surprising coming from the ‘wise Latina’ affirmative action jusrice.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The entitlement mentality likes to pretend that the people who would most get the fruits of entitlement are the ones who deserve it the most – ergo, the hardworking, but low-paid workers ‘scraping to put enough together’ but the ones who do get the most of those fruits tend not to be the ones who are working their butts off, but the ones who are looking to game the system even more.

    The ones who are working their butts off don’t have time for the nitpicky line-waiting, or extra paperwork. They’re too busy working.

    The entitlement mentality is well aware of this. They are always looking to figure out new ways and means to get more money out of taxes paid by the people who work, and then making excuses about ‘why’ they’re ‘supposed’ to get this ‘extra funding’ to justify their undeserved largesse, by whining about ‘what’s fair.’

    The only fair go they get is what they can achieve with their own capabilities. But these people want more than what they are able to earn with whatever meagre capabilities they have. They want the reward without the effort.

    Liked by 7 people

  3. A lot of people love to present someone like Sotomayor as an example of how Affirmative Action works, but they forget that someone didn’t get into law school because of it despite their hard work.

    Like you said, Nicki, in raising someone up because they’re a minority, they’re having to cut someone down. Someone didn’t get into law school, or medical school, or into a prestigious MBA program, all because the schools had to give that slot to a minority student who hadn’t performed quite as well.

    The sad thing is that a lot of minority students get into tough schools, then fail to graduate, but that undergrad slot was already gone and someone had to settle for somewhere else. Why should they believe they should even bother to transfer? They shouldn’t…because affirmative action is still a thing even then.

    So some kid who did everything right gets hosed so someone who didn’t do as much can sail right past him.

    The left wants to talk about fair? Then tell me how THAT is fair.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Like a native-American, First Peoples, or Amerindian (or whatever the HELL is the favored descriptor these days) someone who didn’t get into wherever it was in the high educational clerisy, reserved for one of those ilk … because Elizabeth Warren identified as one of them. In spite of being about as blond and Anglo as one can get, absent one of those Nazi-era posters glorifying the pure Aryan race.
      Yeah, E. Warren played the fake- race card to her advantage. Like to know who she aced out in the various academic hustings, back in the day.
      Wonder if they still hold a grudge.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I worked for a hotel chain for a few years, and had to hire all my kitchen staff according to criteria from the HR office- meaning I was forced to hire unqualified and often lazy dumb asses rather than the person qualified for the job.
    It was so bad and so wrong on so many levels, that having to hire based on some affirmative action nonsense rather than their skills/ qualifications is what drove me to quit.
    One of the guys I was forced not to hire was the best applicant in the 3 years I worked for the company. I called to check references just because he had listed a guy I had worked with for 7 or 8 years.
    I was told that the kid was the best sous chef my friend had ever had. The place he was at refused to pay him more $$.
    Last I heard of the “kid” -( he was 23 or 24)-he was executive chef for one of the best restaurants in the area.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. One of Nicki’s very best pieces @LibertyZone here Very worth a read. Concise, nearly perfect overview of entitlement.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Harrison Bergeron

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Yep. I was thinking that as I was writing the piece.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve never understood how people came to the belief that guaranteeing people equal opportunity will result in equal results. Life doesn’t work that way. And the only thing you’re “entitled” to is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Everything else is earned. These entitlement mentality folks are convinced that help is not just giving someone a hand up, it’s closer to carrying them for life.


  8. “You reject a college applicant, who may have higher grades, who may have worked harder, and who may have participated in more extracurricular activities in favor of a poor kid, who may have had to work after school to help support his family, or just didn’t have the talent or the drive to get the grades, and all you’ve done is taken away an opportunity from one human being and handed it to another, with the government as the arbiter of who is more deserving, rather than objective achievement.”

    The thing that a lot of people don’t understand is that rich =/= lazy and poor =/= virtuous. I’m not saying those situations don’t exist, but they certainly don’t always and are perpetuated by this societal (and Hollywood?) stereotype. Sometimes the white, privileged individual is the one who worked harder and put in the time to earn that enrollment slot/job. I never really believed in affirmation action, and want to see more of a merit based system.

    I think that the “hand up” described–which is welfare and whatnot–does need to exist, but in small as needed, emergency situations. It shouldn’t be a lifestyle, and I’ve seen people make it a lifestyle. A place I lived several years ago had a heavy emphasis on welfare and social programs, but no actual jobs for people to get and better themselves (and what jobs were available were both politically based and taxed heavily to pay for all the programs).


  9. Chris Gardner. Got there without welfare.

    You can blame Lyndon Johnson and his so-called ‘war on poverty’ (1965) for most of what is wrong with society now. I know I do. Biggest scam ever.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, how is that war on poverty doing, anyway? I bet just as good as Nixon’s war on drugs. Or George W. Bush’s war on terror. You would think that after all this time, these twits would learn that you can wage war against another country, or even parts of your own country, but when you try to wage war on some idea or a behavior, you are only creating an opened spigot that will always drain money out, but never result in any kind of lasting success. Hell, the war on poverty, it they would just have given the money that they have wasted in these last 50 some years to the poor, they could have declared victory a long time ago. But the realists among us know that there was never any actual desire to stop poverty, but to instead create a class of people who were beholden to the federal teat. On that same theme, but in a different vein, I remember when my grandparents were retired, but very low income. Back then, we didn’t have food stamps, what we had was the FDA taking surplus food from farmers and distributing it to the poor. My grandparents, once a month or so, had their case worker or whomever, drive out to their home with things like powdered eggs, canned juice, powdered milk, canned meats such as corned beef, and other products that were surplus from the farmers. It was packed in plain brown cardboard boxes, almost like the old military C and K rations. But it meant the difference between my grandparents surviving and really struggling. A few years later, I guess that the liberals decided that it was somehow demeaning for poor people to actually have to cook food from farmers, instead of being able to buy prepackaged garbage in the stores, and they came up with the idea of food stamps and then the bridge card. I have little doubt that the farmers who participated in the FDA surplus food program lost out on this one, with the ones who gained being the big food packing places and the middle men. Government is expert at taking a program that actually works for all those involved, and changing it so that their friends and voters are the ones who reap the rewards.


    2. Funny out all those “wars” turn out to be wars against the general populace…


  10. Yeah but see, Latinos are “oppressed” so their 14 hour days are unfair.

    Very little in anyone’s life is “good luck” or “bad luck”. Our lives are a series of decisions we make and the repercussions or outcomes of those decisions.


  11. The problem is that people like Sotomayor want to do this effectively at the point of a gun. She’s a collectivist/communist. Let’s hope Trump appoints three more Supremes.


  12. “Fair” is where you go for cotton candy and rides, it has nothing to do with life. The problem with government enforced equality is how badly it is unequal. When I was coming up for Major, the standard selection rate was just 50%. Half the people who had put in ten years of their life in service to their country were going to be told to go home with nothing more than a hearty thank you. However, the Army decided that there was not enough representation of minorities, so they postponed the results for months while they tinkered with the numbers until they got the results they wanted.
    Now, there were people regardless of color who were clearly superior and deserved promotion, and those who were so inferior they couldn’t be considered seriously, regardless again of color. The problem was those in the middle. If you were a white officer who should have been selected, you may have been passed over to promote a minority officer that was less qualified. The people who bore that burden often came from less than privileged backgrounds themselves. But the Army decided that they were less worthy based on the color of their skin.
    What a great way to create resentment, not to mention cause everyone to wonder if officers of color were qualified or not. It was detrimental on so many levels that it was probably the most divisive I had seen the Army since the early 70s.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. There is something the matter with a college admissions process that doesn’t reward working at a job as well as participation in a club. Students can join clubs as resume builders and unless they are playing a varsity sport or placing in events in activities like speech and debate or are officers of the club, it takes a lot less character to show up at a meeting here or there for something that interests you, or go on some mom and dad paid “humanitarian trip” to a third world country with your rich buddies, than it does to get up in the morning on weekends, or after school to go to a part-time job, or to watch younger siblings, help them with school work daily after school. Of course college admissions personnel don’t see it that way, so instead of rewarding responsible and character-building behavior, even unrelated to school, they ignore it, and reward rich-kid clubs and trips but virtue signal by making carve outs based on ethnicity. Because the really despise what they consider menial labor, never realizing jobs help kids learn how to work as part of a team with people who aren’t like them, customer service, sales, and business ethics.

    If I were hiring I would choose the kid with As and some Bs who worked full time, especially if the first two years were at a community college, over the kid who had straight As and spent summers in Europe.


  14. I’m your typical blessed American white male patriarch type. Everything in my life has been handed to me on a silver platter. In spite of this, for the last 14 years, after having gone to college full-time (at age 38) for a career change while working a full time job I have worked 50 hours a week at my full time job while holding one and sometimes two part-time jobs to make ends meet. I am truly blessed.
    I can’t help but think, however, that I would have a much easier time of it were 40+ percent of my wages not stolen from me to provide a “helping hand” to those who would game the system.
    Apparently I’m an a-hole for not grasping the concept.


  15. The playing field is level in both pictures.


  16. Calisse Tabarnac | Reply

    Affirmative action was NOT created to benefit hard-working, overachieving minorities from poor and lower-middle-class families.

    Affirmative action WAS created to benefit underachieving minorities from wealthy, upper-middle-lass families.

    Once you understand this historical accuracy, you can also understand how despicable and cancerous the pernicious practice of affirmative action is, and how it is morally unjustifiable in America.


  17. Bad enough as it is, the entitlement mentality leads rather predictably to envy and hatred of those in supposedly better situations, regardless of whether their situations are better due to cleverness and hard work or through no effort of their own.

    A famous anecdote from the 1848 socialist upheaval in Paris has a coal-carrier accosting a gentlewoman, saying, “Yes, Madame, everything’s going to be equal now. I’ll go in silks and you’ll carry coal.” I call this the Commissar Complex. And in a society in which the entitlement mentality has taken hold, you’ll find it everywhere.


  18. “No one is ENTITLED to my help.
    No one is ENTITLED to the fruits of my labor.
    No one is ENTITLED to what I earn – to assets that should be going, first and foremost, to help me and my family – simply because they consider themselves deserving of said assets.”

    The idea of entitlement brings to mind a famous paragraph from the Lincoln-Douglas debates, where Lincoln said,

    That is the real issue. That is the issue that will continue in this country when these poor tongues of Judge Douglas and myself shall be silent. It is the eternal struggle between these two principles—right and wrong—throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, “You work and toil and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.” No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.


  19. They should buy tickets to watch the ballgame.


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