An entitlement is a legal benefit available from the government to individuals who are within a defined category of recipients, such as needing insurance for unemployment or health services.
The topic of entitlements is a kind of political hot potato now, what with Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, vowing to cut Social Security benefits. It is hard to know where the multifaceted Mitt will come down with this. He is quite dutiful in efforts to concoct congruence between himself and the multiple Republican bases he seeks to represent. He is a pleaser and we cannot really know just how his cloudy promises might precipitate in a reign of deeds.
For Republicans especially, entitlements suggest the largesse of big government dispensing money taxed from the haves, to the ever-enlarging numbers of those having less and less. Beyond the problems of recession and unemployment, there is the largely ignored issue of structural inequality in our economic and social ranks, which is far and away the greater culprit.
At the same time, the Republicans feel quite strongly that the well-to-do are fully entitled to their economic gains, as reflecting superior skill within business and the capitalist economy we have. The word they use is “deserving.” They have earned their advantage, and have the right to take full advantage of it. After all, don’t the economic benefits created cascade down to all? Simply put, NO. We have in place some well-established programs seen as necessary for a responsible society, but the Republicans are always anxious to turn back.
Theirs is the claim of those who prosper, to credit themselves as individuals who have had the initiative and skill to get ahead of their brothers. Alternately they are sometimes those who also had the guile to turn a blind eye to sufferings that result from their activities. If profit-taking is not a neighbor to extortion, then government efforts to establish fair safety nets are not simply “nanny state programs” to redistribute wealth.