There’s entitlements and there’s entitlement. They both involve stealing your money.

Senate Republicans are planning on leveraging the national debt as a reason to cut Social Security. They call it entitlement reform. You should be outraged.

The original use of the word “entitlements” in political discourse was to reflect that benefits like social security were moneys that you were entitled to because, it actually is your money.

For every paycheck you earn, some of the money would goes into a fund, with no purpose other than to pay out social security benefits to other contributors to the fund, who are now of age to collect their own money — money that they also had contributed for all of their working lives. So this is why people will say, correctly, that “Social Security pays for itself” because that’s exactly how that system works. It’s not from taxes, it’s not appropriated from budgets. The money comes from your paycheck for you to collect it later. It’s like a savings account your parents set up for you as a kid to put away some of your allowance, to eventually pay for college.

Somewhere along the way, Republicans changed the meaning, to suggest that poor people were feeling entitled to things that they didn’t earn. They did this by lumping Social Security in with other programs that do assist people who are in poverty or are disabled, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps. This is a deliberate political strategy, starting somewhere around Nixon and Lee Atwater, who first said, “perception is reality.” Today, that’s the same strategy used by this current administration – alternative facts, undermining of the press, “truth isn’t truth,” and Trump undermining the veracity of Dr. Ford’s testimony about being sexually assaulted by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to “win” his confirmation.

Cutting Social Security in the context of managing the national debt is theft.

The national debt is increasing specifically because giving tax cuts to corporations and the rich (who increased corporate profits and record buybacks and did not pay employees higher wages) decreased government revenue, while spending remained high.

It is like your parents managing your savings account for you your whole life, then when you actually need it to pay for college, they decide to use the money to pay off the interest on their credit card debt that they racked up buying gold toilets and donating to a televangelist’s new jet fund.

That would upset you, right? Because what gives them the right to take something that isn’t their’s to take? And for what reason? To compensate for their own greediness and irresponsibility, with your hard earned money? Now that sounds like the other kind of entitlement.

Written by Joseph Lee, M.D.

I'm a Psychiatrist in private practice in Redondo Beach, CA. I completed both medical school and residency training at UCLA. My practice is psychotherapy based with a health-oriented focus on personal growth and wellbeing. I also teach about mental healthiness and advocate for social emotional learning (SEL) in all contexts.

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