Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Entitlement Culture (and how to end it)

About this time last year, I thought about writing an article called “The Entitlement Generation” – about all the graduates emerging from universities and claiming they were entitled to a job because they happened to do a degree. The point was not just to point out the hopeless naivety of that position, but to illustrate just how the society they are in make them think that they are entitled to a job by dint of having a degree (often in an irrelevant subjects). However, looking at our society today, it is clear that this sense of entitlement is not just in our students but can be seen across our society.

You only have to look at the response to the Coalition’s cuts – cuts are fine until they cut something that an individual is entitled to. Take the mindless whining about the cut to the playground scheme – the sense of wronged entitlement is palpable. They were entitled to that money and now it isn’t there – who ruddy dare the government take that money away?

The knee-jerk reaction is to just say “oh, do shut up!” No-one is entitled to money from the government – not least because that money actually comes from the taxpayer, rather than from the government. My initial thought is always “do what you want, but don’t expect it to be funded through my taxes!”

Yet this view – while technically being correct, does rather lack an understanding of why people might be tempted to think that they are entitled to funds from the government. It might well be because they have to give so much to the government through their taxes. Actually, no, “give” is not the right word – the government takes taxes – in what feels like ever-increasing amounts.

So why shouldn’t we demand things from the government? We pay for the fucking thing, so why shouldn’t we get some sort of return on our forced investment? You wouldn’t walk into a supermarket and give them a hefty percentage of your salary and then walk out with nothing.

Of course, it isn’t as simple as that. Tax money does go towards some goods – the NHS, schools etc. The problem is that the amount of money the government is taking from us is going up, while the quality of what they provide is at best stagnant, and at worst rapidly deteriorating. If the government was a business reliant on winning money from people it would have gone under a long time ago. It is only because it can demand money from people that it can keep the income coming in. But therein lies the problem. Now, when it is demanding more money from people at the same time as offering those people less. Of course people feel they are entitled to things from the government – they’re still paying for that government after all.

The only way in which we can end this culture of entitlement is by redressing our relationship with the government. If we want to feel that they are entitled to less from the government, then the government needs to take less from them. Ideas like the Big Society don’t cut it. “Your Country Needs You,” says Cameron. Well, frankly my country can fuck off – it has taken enough from me already.

There is a culture of entitlement in this country, and it has been created by our tax-hungry and profligate government. For that culture to change, the government needs to change in a far more radical way than anything being offered by the mainstream political parties. The state needs to get smaller – much smaller – and in doing so return both rights and responsibilities to its people.

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At 6:08 pm , Blogger Mark Wadsworth said...


I'd go further and tell all the Home-Owner-Ists who think that house prices can only go up and that banks will always be bailed out to f--- off as well.

And government revenues will be collected from people who derive most benefit from the existence of government, and not from people who generate the most income.

At 6:27 pm , Anonymous SimonF said...

One of the main reasons people have a great sense of entitlement is because wannabe MPs, MPs and the righteous tell them they have an entitlement.

Bit of a viscous circle really.

At 7:55 pm , Blogger PJH said...

It might well be because they have to give so much to the government through their taxes. Actually, no, “give” is not the right word – the government takes taxes – in what feels like ever-increasing amounts.

This only applies if the income is directly obtained from sources other than the taxpayer.

Those who don't view unemployment as a career choice for example. Or, dare I say it, those not in the public sector.

Those living off the state ('dole wallas' and civil servants) are merely recycling taxpayers money.

At 9:00 pm , Blogger TonyF said...

Spot on again!

PJH sums it up neatly. It's high time they realised that the Public sector does not create wealth, but is a massive drain.

At 1:15 pm , Blogger Weekend Yachtsman said...

"The state needs to get smaller – much smaller"

Unfortunately, there is absolutely no sign whatever of this happening.

The current government plans to INCREASE expenditure in practically every area, apart from those which it has (insanely) "ring-fenced", where presumably expenditure will increase even faster.

It seems we have still not learned our lesson. One does rather wonder what the end will look like when it finally arrives. Pretty unpleasant would be my guess. Weimar republic, perhaps?


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