Age of Entitlement

I grew up on a small, non-corporate farm in southern Michigan. The norm was hard work, aching muscles and scant reward by today’s standards. I remember making $5.00 for an entire day’s labor putting up hay and another five bucks for a Saturday—all day—spent in the garden pulling weeds and harvesting ripened vegetables.

Doing hay with my grandfather was an experience. We’d start about 9:00 a.m., take a lunch break about 1 in the afternoon and a lemonade break around 3. Times were subject to change, depending on how many bales short of 100 were on the wagon, whether or not one more trip around the field would finish it, and how soon rain, if any, might be blowing in.

There were frequent stops of the tractor-haybaler-wagon conglomeration to adjust the settings on the baling machine. I think Grampa felt the optimum weight for a bale of hay was whatever I happened to weigh each summer. I was sure thankful to finally reach 90 pounds, ’cause he couldn’t tighten the screws on the baler to stuff any more strands of hay into the twine past that point.

The general rule of thumb was to overfill both wagons that he owned, and then hook them up to both tractors and haul them to the barn, where it was my job the first few years to remove the bales from the over-burdened wagons and place them on the elevator to send them to the loft. Most of the time, the hay was stacked higher than my head, front to back on the wagon. It was hot, sweaty, dirty, thirsty work. It was even more so when I got my first “opportunity” as a big kid to be in the barn unloading the elevator. After a quick glass of water or two, it was back out to the fields for another two loads, provided there was still at least some daylight and more hay lying on the ground.

The lessons I learned growing up on my grandfather’s farm were those of cycles and dependencies. If I wanted steak, the cows had to be fed. In order to feed them, it was necessary to put up the hay, and plant other fields with corn for feed. In order to ensure the corn would reach the necessary ripeness for harvesting to be ground into feed, it was necessary to keep the fences in good repair. Keeping the fences in good repair required frequent visual checks, which meant walking a distance of a few miles every week looking for problems. And fixing them when they were found.

There is nothing earth shattering in these observations; simple logic will suffice to reach the same conclusions a hundred times over. So, what happens when we apply some of the same simple logic to recent happenings and stated intentions of the current administration in D.C. and the Congressional Grift-resentatives installed to make the laws of the land?

I’m not advocating a return to all things rural, nor am I longing for the good ‘ol days. I like my computers and having my Starbuck’s within walking distance. But I am extremely concerned with a course change I see taking place in this country. Over the last several decades, we have fostered a philosophy of entitlement that will be our undoing if it is allowed to continue.

Take the new Arizona law regarding illegal immigration for example. First and foremost, this is a bill about law and legality and the safety of American citizens, not about feel-good humanitarian issues. This country was founded on the principle of the rule of law and I have no problem with someone who chooses to come to this country and follows the proper legal channels to do so.

An illegal immigrant is just that: illegal. That means they have consciously chosen to circumvent one of the primary values that we as Americans hold dear, the rule of law, just by crossing the border illegally.

It does not matter that their intentions may be good. It does not matter that they may have come from a world of hardship and poverty, looking for a better life. They broke the law coming here. It is vital to understand this. Upholding the law is the foundation upon which this country was built.

It is also necessary to understand that the Arizona SENATE BILL 1070 is a restatement of, and simply a notice of intent to enforce already existing Federal law!

Federal law states that every non-citizen in the United States has been required to carry such documents [proving their legal status] since Congress passed the Alien Registration Act in 1940. – Read more…

Under Title 8 Section 1325 of the U.S. Code,

“Improper Entry by Alien”, any citizen of any country other than the United States who:

  • Enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers; or
  • Eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers; or
  • Attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact; has committed a federal crime…a felony

Yet. last week, we had the President of Mexico receiving a standing ovation from some members of Congress after his lecture on how we bad Americans are depriving his noble, hard-working people their entitled right to a better life. He is concerned that we are a bunch of anarchistic, gun-toting cowboys who shoot someone who looks Mexican on sight with our automatic assault weapons and that the simple Arizona enforcement of Federal Law, despite strictures and provisions against racially profiling individuals will lead to undue harassment of Hispanics.

Mr. President, go home. Stay there, and keep your citizens there as well and do not presume to lecture US citizens how your country, your people are entitled to every thing the United states has to offer. Better yet, change your country’s immigration laws to reflect what you feel ours should be, so that those wishing to visit your beautiful country may do so without restraint, restrictions, or documentation. Perhaps, Representative McClintock said it better than I.

Looking closer to home, the recent rash of government bailouts are a symptom of this entitlement philosophy as well. Businesses judged “too big to fail”, or too vital to the economy have received billions of dollars of tax payer money to continue on. We, rather the current crop of Grift-resentatives in Congress in opposition to the majority of American voices, have just informed the insurance industry that they are ignorant of “best practices” for their businesses and that 30 Million people whom they judged to be non-insurable, are in fact, fully insurable and are entitled to be covered by those companies, and thus paid for by other Americans in a legislated, federally mandated, taxpayer funded bailout of those individuals.

The current administration and members of both Congressional houses appear to feel entitled to control, regulate and administer every conceivable aspect of our lives from how or even if we buy health insurance, to the cars we drive, and how we should think. Those who vociferously disagree with official policy are labeled as dissenters, insurrectionists; racists.

I guess that means you can mark me down as a dissenter.

One good thing has blossomed in this growing age of entitlement, though. I have come to realize that I feel entitled as well. Based on my reading of the US Constitution I, and every other US citizen, are entitled to life, [personal] liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. After that, all bets are off.

Life, either on or off that small farm where I grew up, is hard work. Sometimes, it’s not fair. Sometimes, it’s downright cruel. All attempts to legislate or mandate equal outcomes ignore facts. Some people are smarter than others. Some are more talented. Some people make wiser choices than others. And in this chaotic universe that we inhabit, some people just seem to have more good fortune or better luck than others, despite all attempts at legislation to the contrary.

Reading List

Reading list: