Entitled Nation

Breaking America's new adiction to entitlement starts at home

Many of you are reacting to the secret tape of Mitt Romney characterizing half of our country as entitled freeloaders, who don't pay taxes. This was said in a private dinner in front of many other one per-centers whom Mr Romney shares more in common with then me and you. Mitt was only saying something that he and the elite feel is true. We are a country of makers and takers and the takers caught in a struggle.

 As much as I hate to agree with Mr. Romney there is some validity in what he said. Now the broad characterization was absurdly wrong and offensive and will likely bring further damage to his already free falling campaign. However we do have a nation that has embraced an entitlement destiny and it goes much further then welfare and food stamps.

 It starts in the millions of homes and families across our country and the contributing reasons are exposed daily.I've been a youth sports coach for a number of years. I coach basketball, football and baseball. Being a coach I come into contact with many families during each season and I get to see the affect of instilling entitlement into our children every day. Let me share with you an example of this dynamic with a player we will call Johnny.

Johnny comes from a suburban family with two working parents. Johnny is the oldest of three. He goes to a good school and lives in a nice three bedroom home with flat screen televisions, an iPad and his own iPod touch. Johnny's mom post lots of pictures on Face book and his dad brags to his friends at work that he's playing little league.

Johnny shows up to practice with $70 cleats and the best bat, glove and bag on the team. His parents sit near the field for practices and game mainly watching his at bats or when he is on the field. The rest of the time they are on their smart phones or talking amongst themselves. Well Johnny's coach sees that while a good and decent kid. Johnny doesn't like to be told what to do. To run faster, to focus and pay attention, to keep his eye on the ball. Johnny isn't very good and doesnt even try to make himself a better player.

Johnny's coach makes the decision that Steven is better and will start the game and Johnny will be a back up.Johnny goes home and complains to his dad, telling him "coach wont let me play". Johnny's mom writes the coach an email complaining that it's not fair that Johnny doesnt play and he makes just as many mistakes as the next player. She's upset that Johnny wont be the starting third basemen at the next game because his grandparents are coming. His mom also complains to the league manager about this and through this kind of pressure, the coach gives in and Johnny is allowed to start at first base.

This happens daily in youth sports. Parents through the best and most loving intentions, lavish their kids with everything they could want. They fail to teach their children the lesson of working hard to earn things in life. These same parents try to grease the skids of their child's early society so that child never experiences defeat, disappointment or constructive judgement. These parents are only planting the seeds of "Ït's someone else's fault that I'm not achieving."Youth sports is an excellent place to teach children some of the most important lessons in life.

I've been blessed to coach my son for a number of years and I try to show him. There are wins and losses in life. Someone else will have more, you wont always get that promotion, you will be asked to do more without recognition in time. Every kid shouldn't get a ribbon. We need to create more incentives for our children. No I don't feel we should harshly withold from them to teach them a lesson, but sending children out into a world that has increasingly become more tilted to a privileged few without a sense of motivation to work for what they deserve is short-sided and wrong.We live in a society of instant gratification where everything is set up to avoid the word "no".

The best way to tackle entitlement is in our own families, homes and communities. Teach our children hard work, sacrifice and of course great reward. Also as adults we must re-learn that sometimes the workd no can inspire and motivate us to do more then we thought was possible. It doesnt take a political candidate to end entitlement as we know it. It starts with us.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Melissa P. September 20, 2012 at 04:18 AM
Great post. No matter what side of the fence you are on you can agree with certain points made. As always, well written.
atthec44 September 20, 2012 at 03:11 PM
The paragraph about where Johnny comes from is interesting but I wonder how it would read if we were talking about an inner city “family”. Maybe something like this… Tyrone comes from an inner city family with zero full time working parents. Tyrone’s mother dropped out of high school when she got pregnant with him at 16 years old. She is now 22 years old and has 5 kids from 4 different fathers. You see, Tyrone’s father actually stuck around long enough to knock her up a second time before being sentenced to 7 years in prison for armed robbery. Tyrone goes to an underperforming school where the teachers are more concerned with having Viagra covered in their taxpayer funded health care plan than they are with teaching Tyrone how to read, write and do basic math. Tyrone lives in a 3 bedroom apartment with flat screen televisions, cable TV, a laptop computer and his own iPod touch. Even though Tyrone’s mom only works 25 hours a week at a hair salon, she can afford all these luxuries because she doesn’t have to pay for health insurance, child care, rent, utilities or even food for her children. Tyrone’s mom posts lots of pictures on Facebook and Tyrone’s father brags to his cell mate that since he’s in prison “he don’t got to take care of dem kids no mo.”
Randy1949 September 20, 2012 at 03:38 PM
$50,000 a plate for dinner kind of suggests that most of the diners were 1% types. However, you can see the servers moving around preparing drinks, and at least one 47 percenter had set up a camera to catch Mitt acting naturally for once.
Randy1949 September 20, 2012 at 03:43 PM
That 47% includes the working poor, the elderly who paid income taxes all their lives prior to retirement, and even soldiers who are exempt from federal income tax on their combat pay. I guess Mitt Romney feels entitled to shift more of his tax burden onto those people. Way to insult people who are working and trying to make a go of it, Mitt. The percentage of people who live off the government is much, much less.
Quietwood Guy September 20, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Great post Terry! It was so good, it made me want to fist pump in the air. As the great Michael Jackson said, "I'm starting with the man in the mirror". There is a great conflict in being a parent in that if you feel that sense of responsibility to raise your child and provide, educate, and give them the tools for them to pursue an enjoyable life. Sometimes the provide role can conflict with the educate role. For all parents, the cliche phrase "tough love" is where you put more emphasis on the educate, and provide the tools to grow. Also tough love is where actions have repercussions where your children's pain and hurt instill the tools they will thrive by. Don't worry, they will understand more when they are older.
oak creek resident September 20, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Terry is focusing on the softening of our kids, where everyone is made to be a winner and get what they want. Totally different than the entitlement mentality where certain people expect everyone else to pay for their housing, food, etc. Terry missed the mark by about 10 miles.
oak creek resident September 20, 2012 at 03:58 PM
So Terry does your kid have a gaming system, flat screen tv, mp3 player, etc?
Greg September 20, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Another example of Entitled Nation involves Suzy, rather than Johnny. Suzy's school district ended the tradition of Father/Daughter Dances, for ALL of the girls, because Suzy's mom is too much of a skank to keep a man around, to take Suzy to the dance. http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-father-daughter-dances-gender-discrimination-20120918,0,2172144.story
Satori September 20, 2012 at 04:15 PM
@ Greg - you hate life, I'm convinced of it
Greg September 20, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Back that up, please.
Terry Burkett September 20, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Thanks for the feedback! First of all this wasnt the forum for Obama v. Romney. It's a way to look at ourselves in the mirror and see how we make changes in an entitled society. We can fix adults but we can certainly teach our kids self reliance
Terry Burkett September 20, 2012 at 07:55 PM
@ atthec44 the scenario you mention has many roots much deeper then entitlement programs. I think it takes extraordinary understanding of the history of race in our country to see what happens when you mix race, poverty and social programs. If it was inner city kid it would be different in some ways. This characterization you lay out looks ominously like the "welfare queen" imagery that those who judge from a far conveniently roll out. I am a black man, have relatives, friends and neighbors who aren't well off and that picture you painted isnt prevalent like you may think. Just like the Johnny character isnt uniquely a "Northshore" thing. Both issues come back to parents putting down our toys and raising our children.
Terry Burkett September 20, 2012 at 07:57 PM
@oak creek resident. We have a Wii that basically never gets touched May thru January due to my son's sports activities. We have one flat screen in the family room. I have a MP3 player on my phone. We dont own an iPod, iPad, Kindle, etc. I dont beleive that stuff is needed to raise a happy child.
CowDung September 20, 2012 at 08:09 PM
While I agree with you that those things are not needed to raise a happy child, I would argue that having those things isn't necessarily a bad thing either. I think the issue is whether or not one views them as 'necessities', as 'luxuries' or as 'entitlements'.
Scot Bartels September 20, 2012 at 08:32 PM
But your article is based on what Romney said about the entitled society. Maybe you did not intend it to turn into a Romney v. Obama forum but considering the election is just around the corner what did you honestly expect? If you simply wanted it to be an article about the parents who think their little Johnny can do no wrong and deserves everything that he wants that could have been written without bringing up Romney and his (as you put it) "free falling campaign". Heck all you need to do is tune into one episode of American Idol when they are taking the first auditions. Someone whose singing sounds like a cat being skinned alive (not that I ACTUALLY know what that sounds like) have been told their whole life that they are a good singer. Not once did one of their parents say 'Johnny, you can't sing'. And when the judges tell them the honest truth they are simply shocked. Not only are they shocked, they think the judges are wrong. They actually think that they sound good and deserve to get picked by the judges.
CowDung September 20, 2012 at 08:34 PM
...and in the spirit of full dislosure, our household does have an iPad, a Kindle, and an X-Box. We have 2 flat screen TVs with antenna reception only. We also have a family computer that is shared between the kids and me (my wife has her own computers that are used primarily for her work).
Scot Bartels September 20, 2012 at 08:36 PM
I just keep flashing to the women saying they were here to get "Obama money". They didn't know where he got it from but thought it was from his "stash". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOZ-Etb0k0Q
Scot Bartels September 20, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Of course then there is this "gem". Wonder if Obama is paying for her gas yet? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P36x8rTb3jI&feature=related
Randy1949 September 20, 2012 at 08:51 PM
If this article wasn't to be about Romney versus Obama and the whole entitlement issue, you probably should not have started it with a paragraph about Mitt Romney being right. Spoiled kids are one thing, but i wonder why 'entitlement' has become such a dirty word. We ARE entitled to things. If I pay the Acme Life Insurance Company premiums for thirty years and then I die, my beneficiaries are entitled to the death benefit. If I pay thirty thousand dollars for a new car, I'm entitled to one where the wheels don't fall off during the first hundred miles I drive it. If I'm laid off from a job, I'm entitled to unemployment compensation while I look for new work. And if I don't make enough income to owe federal income tax, I'm entitled to not be called a moocher.
Mary Baker September 20, 2012 at 09:41 PM
It disturbs me to see the customer in front of me at the grocery store with the food voucher and her kid wearing the new expensive sneakers, with his expensive cell phone and his gold grill. So let's not talk about the kid who parents can afford to indulge him and whose parent pay their far share and then support the rest of the entitlement crap out there!
Greg September 20, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Unless you are a moocher.
Randy1949 September 20, 2012 at 10:55 PM
I'll bet they drove off in a Cadillac too.
James R Hoffa September 20, 2012 at 11:29 PM
@Randy1949 - Funny thing about reality is that if you want to see a lot of Cadillacs concentrated in a specific area, all you need to do is cruise the ghetto - practically all you see is the Cadillac wreath and crest, and that's no lie! You also see $1k+ spinner wheels and loads of other kinds of excess! Why do people that can obviously afford such excess need government assistance? Doesn't that outrage you? It should!
Keith E. Hendrickson September 21, 2012 at 12:17 AM
For the last 2 years Obama has been doing nothing but campaigning and has gone to more $50,000-$250,000 dinners then Romney did yet Romney is the only guy going after the rich people's money. Love to see how delusional Obama drones are and the fact they are jealous/coveting the success of Romney. They will be coveting the success of Romney even more when he follows rock star Scott Walkers epic landslide victory over his idiotic bubbling campaigner in chief. Obama should be impeached for his handling over the attacks and deaths of our Ambassador as it was an act of war and he does nothing but bow and show weakness.
Craig September 21, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Randy: Life insurance death benefits are not an entitlement- it is a contract....stop paying and the death benefit stops. The guarantee is if you keep PAYING, then you are covered. Far from an entitlement. That 30 thousand dollar car warranty is not an entitlement, you payed for the warranty in the price of the car. Unemployment compensation is also like insurance. The employer pays unemployment insurance. The first 26 weeks is paid for, how the hell we got to 99 weeks is nuts, talk about incentive to stay home. Federal income tax is a joke. Low wage earners often get more back than they pay in, yet we supposedly got rid of welfare. In reality we found other ways to give entitlements without the naughty welfare word. How people can get thousands of dollars back from the Fed. when they barely pay anything in is an insult to those of us trying to support a Government that can't stop smoking the credit card. We're all entitled to our own opinion...
Randy1949 September 21, 2012 at 02:55 PM
That's not quite accurate, Craig. With whole life or variable life or whatever they're calling those policies now, even if you stop paying you do get a cash value. But what I'm saying is that the company can't take your payments for a $100K policy and then say, after thirty years of those payments, "Sorry, our company hasn't been doing as well as we thought. You're only getting $75K." Federal income tax is indeed a joke, but if you will remember, things like the EIC and the childcare credits were put in place as incentives to work a job rather than take general assistance or AFDC. You will also find working people who qualify for none of these deductions and credits who don't make enough to pay federal income tax either. To call them moochers is incredibly callous.
Randy1949 September 21, 2012 at 03:19 PM
I guess it all depends on how you define entitlement. You know very well that the 'entitlements' of Social Security and Medicare are on the line along with other social programs. There are reasons some things are called entitlements -- if you pay for something you're entitled to the value originally agreed upon. Since you bring up birth control, people who work for religiously-based institutions pay their employee contributions for the insurance plans in force. Why should they pay the same amount of money in premiums as people working for secular organisations and not get the same level of coverage, simply because their employer is squeamish about certain things? Making birth control less accessible will not save on employee health costs and premiums overall.
Craig September 21, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Randy: I agree that it depends on how you define entitlement- especially at the political level. The whole welfare to work plan never did work out, as you can see we give tax credits to those who pay hardly anything into the system. There are two types of Social Security disability- the type you and I have paid for as an insurance plan, and there is the smaller amount ($588/mo) that is for the disabled who never worked. This is a form of welfare in and of itself. I have no problem with paying $588 to someone truely disabled, don't get me wrong. We have to agree to disagree on the birth controll thing. I can tell you my wife pays the whole cost of her bc meds, if her employer changes the insurance company then it will be covered at 100%. This is STUPID.... If I want a Rx for viagra, I have to satisfy my $5000/ year deductible before I can have that covered (if it even is). This doesn't make me shout from the rooftops that Obama is against men.
CowDung September 21, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Randy: I take no issue with SS and Medicare being used by people who those programs are intended to help. I don't think that anyone has stated anything to the contrary. As far as your insurance coverage comment, if people are getting less of a benefit, then they probably should be paying less toward that benefit. Insurance plans aren't all the same--employees working at different companies might be paying different premiums for the same level of coverage.
H.E. Pennypacker September 21, 2012 at 03:55 PM
More Americans Added to Food Stamps Than Find Jobs. Only a moron would vote for Barack Obama, its that simple.


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