Social Question

josie's avatar

Where did the notion of "entitlement" come from?

Asked by josie (28900points) February 12th, 2010

All other creatures merely live their lives, come hell or high water. Where did some human beings get the idea that an assortment of benefits should be provided for them simply because they were born.

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15 Answers

njnyjobs's avatar

Entitlement stems from Rights that humans have gained in the process of legislation, for example, the Bill of Rights “entitles” any person to the things enumerated in it. Sovereign nations that have constitutions have forms of entitlements unique to their own, but the universal influence is believe to eminate from the Magna Carta.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

People do have that entitlement mentality. It probably comes from the notion that you are your brother’s keeper.I think it’s altruism not necessarily explicitly taught.So,blame it on mom ;)

marinelife's avatar

When people are given something for free, they start to expect it.

Cruiser's avatar

When ones health, safety and general well being is all but guaranteed by the rights and laws of a government and self policed society where survival of the fittest no longer determines ones survival…one can get a bit cocky!

Introduce a human predator with no means of defending against where we become part of the food chain and watch that entitlement attitude change in a hurry.

6rant6's avatar

Whever it came from, it was here before the Declaratino of Independence:

“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, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

limeaide's avatar

It comes from a warped reality that life is fair. Most people with the “entitlement mentality” grew up deprived of something (e.g. money, love, possessions) or had bad things thrust upon them (e.g. abuse). It’s the thinking that other people had this or that and didn’t have to go through this or that so I deserve x.

BoBo1946's avatar

Know what I would love to say…but, had enough problems here yesterday. loll

It is called ego…and more ego! The old saying, “would love to buy them for what they are worth and sell them for what they think they are worth, then retire!”

And usually, people that think they have a little money feel they are “pc’s!”

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

all your qs are along these lines – we get it, you don’t want others to have medicaid or welfare or guaranteed health insurance..can we move on now?

josie's avatar

@6rant6 The Founders did not equate the concept “entitlement” with the concept “Rights” as discussed in the Declaration. To the Founders, a “right” is fundemental perogative of any individual in a social context to act in accordance to their nature. The Declaration says that man, has a right to be free (liberty) to pursue his existence (life) in accordance to his values (happiness being the emotion that is normally felt when we achieve or keep a value). The role of government as described in the Declaration is to “secure” these rights, that is to protect the milieu in which these activities take place. No where did the Founders state that the government “gives” these rights. The rights exist because of our nature, not because of our government’s generosity.
@njnyjobs The Constitution describes what the government is allowed to do. The Bill of Rights was added at the insistence of some of the Framers who believed that the Constitution should also be specific about what the government may NOT do. The BOR does not bestow favors upon us. It merely limits what government can do TO us.

6rant6's avatar

@josie I don’t disagree as far as you go, but I think the founders would say the poeple have a right to define what their entitlements are. To that point, I copied as much of the Declaration as I did specifically to get the line:

”...laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Although YOU may not agree, certainly most people agree that some level of social support is the “most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” Whether that takes the form of public roads, public schools, public health care, public paramedic units, bread lines, civil courts or police departments depends upon the times and the view of the individual. But pretty clearly, the founding fathers thought some of that would happen.

And my guess is you do too. It’s just that what you think is “natural” may be different from what other people see as “natural”.

njnyjobs's avatar

@josie the only time “entitlement” becomes enforceable is when there are laws specifically saying so. . . and as I had earlier stated, this stems from legislation passed by lawmakers of the particular domain. It is also a concept that lawyers push for among those “entitled”, with some crossing the line of scrupulousness to make a gain for themselves.

As far as the notion that people are “entitled” to something, without any legal grounds, clinical psychology and psychiatry may consider that a symptom of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, an unrealistic, exaggerated, or rigidly held sense of entitlement.

6rant6's avatar

@njnyjobs well of course, “First, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

But that’s not really informing this discussion is it? They represent all sides according to who pays them. The fact that they are unscrupulous doing their job doesn’t make the side they are on wrong.

josie's avatar

@6rant6 All things have a specific nature, that characteristic that distinguishes it from some other thing. When I say nature, I mean those things about Man that make man distinct from any other thing in the knowable world. And the desire for happiness is apparently a constant element in the history of man, and thus it must be fair to assume that it is in Man’s nature to have that desire. But we all know that happiness is not a gift. It is an achievement. If it were a gift, you could buy it for yourself. Happiness requires some specific action. The Founder’s position was that everyone should be allowed to take that specific action without interference from others, or from the governement. If you had said to John Adams or Thomas Jefferson that the government might be able to distribute happiness to the people, they would not have even accepted the premise that it was possible to do so, much less that the government could or should do it.

njnyjobs's avatar

@6rant6 if you read exactly into what I write, you will understand that I did not generalize that lawyers are bad. . . I, myself, have benefited from a lawyer’s advice about the rights of people under IDEA, and letting me know what I can and cannot realistically get as entitlement under that pasticular law.

@josie I believe that your original question has been answered and your abstract reasoning regarding hapiness and the pursuit thereof should be posed as another topic.

josie's avatar

@njnyjobs I really don’t think the question has been answered, but, taking your advice, I will get out of the pursuit of happiness business in this stream.

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