Archive for April, 2015

What is entitlement?

Just as the “P.C.” lobby use the word “bigot” to shut down topics about which they would rather not have any proper discussion or debate taking place, there is another piece of namecalling I have increasingly noticed being used, but this time to shut down ambition. That is the word “entitled”.

The student who wants to improve himself and get a better job; the entry level employee who wishes to move up the company; the artist, musician or writer who wants their work to get noticed; or the self-taught individual who just wants to find their place in the world – these people are not “entitled” simply because they point out (sometimes admittedly a little too stridently) the flaws in the system and, often, the ridiculous hurdles that are placed in their way.

But if you think these people are being “entitled”, wow, you are totally looking in the wrong place and need place the barrier way higher with regard to whom you consider entitled. Or else you really do cling to the view that people should know their station in life.

“Entitled” is the bank boss who claims a large bonus for himself, despite the bank being bailed out by the taxpayer.

“Entitled” is the failed politician who thinks he will automatically get a seat in the Lords or, who knows, perhaps even a plum position as an EU commissioner.

“Entitled” is the cynical “health tourist” or “benefits tourist” who spins a yarn about why they have to come to our country, while knowing exactly what they are doing and how to play the system. Next thing, they, their spouse, 8 kids and extended family are living in houses you could never afford, 100% gratis and 100% at your expense, courtesy of your taxes.

“Entitled” is the controlling and abusive partner who thinks it is his God-given right to micro-manage every aspect of his spouse’s life and respond with abuse and even tighter control whenever she tries to do anything for herself, make any independent decision or even just visit friends and family. He thinks everything should be about his needs.

“Entitled” are the heads of corporations who expect employees, who are just trying to survive, to work for a pittance on long, unsocial or unpredictable hours, yet demand a “passion” for the job. The real truth: “Why do you want to work here?” “Because I haven’t yet invented self-paying bills.” Well, maybe typing letters, answering phones or serving lunches is genuinely what floats some people’s boat, but that’s not the reality for most working people. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop some spoilt HR manager writing something daft in a job specification like, “I’m looking for a person who WANTS rather than NEEDS this job…” The very fact that he thinks everyone has a choice about whether or not to take any job available reveals a truly spoilt attitude.

Obviously, there are differing levels of entitlement, this isn’t an exhaustive list, and I haven’t graded the above examples from bad to worst or put them in any specific order.

But picking on people who just want to get ahead and who express their disappointment at the obstructions that have been placed in their way isn’t fair. And for those who say life’s not fair, suck it up – that is just part of the same attitude of shutting down objections to this broken world.

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Here is the article I saw recently.

What I find most interesting about this story is the change in parental attitudes it reflects.

When I was 8 years old, back in the 1970s, if someone our generation had come up with some big idea, I can imagine the response it would have generated from the adults around us: “Those people are far too busy and important to be bothered with letters from every 8 year old child! If you want to do something helpful, you can do the dishes.”

Or perhaps, subconsciously anticipating such a response, it would not have even occurred to any of us to suggest writing a letter. I truly believe that if I had voiced such a proposal, I would have been roundly ignored, or told what an imagination I had. At best, I think I would have received a smile and a pat on the head.

Kids can be veritable founds of creative ideas, and some of them are rather good. However, it is one thing to come up with an idea, but to actually think of writing a letter, to find out to whom it should be addressed and the postal address to which to send it (a task admittedly made much easier these days by the Internet) is usually beyond the patience and attention span of a small child, unless they are receiving help from an adult. The fact that this story was then supplied to the Press seems to suggest that the boy was receiving adult help in publicising the letter and the researchers’ response.

In my day (doesn’t that phrase make me sound old? LOL) children didn’t write letters to someone they didn’t know, unless it was “fan mail”, and then it would be a simple letter of appreciation, and the most you were taught to expect in return was a signed photograph. Even a keen young astronomer like I was would have been met with stern disapproval if I had bothered the local university with every new idea I had about space. Favourite pop stars, authors and TV presenters were fair game, but you didn’t bother authority figures whom your parents told you were “busy and important” and that your ideas were probably silly anyway. How attitudes change.

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