Wednesday, February 2, 2011

ENTITLEMENTS - February 3, 2011

We hear a lot about entitlements these days, in a tone of inaudible snickering, as though the laws which detail the safety net provisions detailing them were somehow suspect, like the Obama birth certificate also beloved by the snickerers. Actually, it might be worthwhile to master this skill, for use in referring to Republicans. There are many cases of laws laid down for the benefits of a particular section of society, but the subtle sneers seem reserved for those who are poor and nearly helpless, unlike banksters and hedge fund scams. Attacks on these latter are dismissed as class warfare. The public is so used to special laws favoring the rich and well-connected that they have long since quit taking note of those special laws, such as the one passed in the 1930s tailored for the tax needs of Louis B. Mayer, the movie mogul. In the late 18th century, the laws of monarchial France favoring the princes and dukes were so old and well-established that the struggling masses had ceased to comment on them. Even in more democratic England in the XIX Century, it was common for a bank or an economic scheme to rent the name and title of a duke, or at least a baron, as a fa├žade to legitimatize its predations. Those without any particular talent for the enterprise understood that society would rather enter any such undertaking as the underling of a man who called himself a noble than take a chance with one of the (sneer) common people. The idiocy continues today in nations that still vote for the scions of supposedly superior people. It is time to announce that the snickering use of the word “entitlements” is the mark of a snake-oil salesman, seeking to turn the working population against the laws that protect their homes, their jobs, their incomes, and their pensions. We should recognize that the sneer should apply instead to those who implicitly suggest that legal protections apply solely to working people and that there is something dirty about them. Only a fool would fall for that scam.

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