Something for Nothing: Entitlement Mentality is Destroying American Society

By: Greg C. Reeson

Watching broadcast reports about the efforts to evacuate American citizens from Lebanon reinforced my belief that we, as a society, are rapidly becoming consumed by an entitlement mentality that threatens to seriously undermine every principle that this country was built upon.

Evening news stories were dominated by people complaining about their treatment at the hands of embassy personnel, the less-than-speedy pace of the evacuations, and generally sloppy work by government representatives attempting to coordinate the mass exodus of noncombatants from what quickly became a war zone. Even Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack criticized the U.S. effort, alleging that the Bush administration was “asleep at the switch.”

What amazed me most as I watched the various news anchors sympathize with the plight of these apparently helpless American citizens was the fact that most, if not all, expected their government to come to their rescue.

Never mind that as early as May 2 the U.S. Department of State issued a travel warning to American citizens about the possible dangers of going to Lebanon. Never mind the subsequent recommendations to evacuate as the situation continued to deteriorate. And never mind that the U.S. government urged all Americans in Lebanon to register with the Embassy in case there was a need for assistance, a recommendation ignored by most of the people now demanding that their government do something, anything to help them.

Individuals made conscious decisions to travel to Lebanon, whether for school, vacation, business, or family gatherings. The United States government did not send them there. Those same individuals made conscious decisions to ignore the State Department’s travel warnings, to ignore the evacuation recommendations, and to ignore the request to register in advance with the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.

These same individuals now expect the U.S. government to rush to their rescue, to save them from their own conscious decisions. The State Department and the Department of Defense are expected to put other people’s lives in danger because a few individuals chose not to heed their government’s warnings. The American taxpayers are expected to foot the bill for this rescue operation because a few individuals chose not to evacuate Lebanon when they were advised to.

Americans have come to expect that no matter what they do, no matter what decisions they make, their government will be there in their time of need. Our society is rapidly moving from one of independence to one of dependence, a trend that has continued to gain momentum since New Deal programs designed to help us overcome the Great Depression were first introduced by President Roosevelt.

Today, our elected representatives in the House and the Senate feed this entitlement mentality by continually funneling federal tax revenues to their home states and districts in order to secure their political futures. Politicians contribute to the “something for nothing” mentality so that they can maintain their grip on power by demonstrating to their constituents their ability to produce entitlements and benefits from Washington.

What ever happened to personal responsibility? When did we as Americans choose to stop making things happen for ourselves and begin to count on our government to provide for us? This country was built by men and women who stood up on their own and created opportunities for themselves. It was not built by people waiting for the U.S. government to save them from their own decisions or provide for them at every turn.

The entitlement mentality is gripping America and destroying the fabric of our society. Too many citizens expect their elected officials to solve all their problems and provide for their every need. Until we as a country begin to hold people accountable for their decisions and their actions, the entitlement mentality will continue to dominate our thinking and our society will continue to expect our government to give them something for nothing.

Greg Reeson is a freelance writer living in Fort Lee, VA. His writings have appeared in The New Media Journal, The Land of the Free, The Veteran’s Voice, The Washington Times, The American Daily, The American Chronicle, Associated Content, and Opinion

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