09 August 2011

Entitlements and the London Riots


The London riots continue to rage on as scenes of fires in the city on the Thames are shown in the media. The riots are said to be about proposed cuts in entitlements programs in the UK, such as health care. So, in order to protest this, they go around harming the very same innocent people who pay the taxes that support their entitlements. They're biting the hand that feeds them, so to speak. More than that, they are allowing their anger over not getting what they believe they should get from other people to turn into violent aggression. It rather reminds me of the poor, misguided souls who bomb abortion clinics to stop abortion, thereby committing murder, the very act they claimed to be against. This outcome is what logically follows from long-term entitlement programs, though the London case is perhaps a bit more dramatic than I hope will be seen elsewhere. Various demonstrations against proposed entitlement cuts in the US, for example, have thankfully thus far remained non-violent.

While a society has a moral obligation to tend to the poor, Christian duty applies to helping those who really need it and, when help is given, that help should be real help. Real help is something that facilitates a person's well-being and growth. As the saying goes, teach a man to fish, and you will feed him for a lifetime. Entitlement programs, on the other hand, are largely hand-outs from the government and create incentives not to work and contribute. Those who truly could be productive members of society but choose not to be, instead living off of welfare programs of socialist governments are selfishly committing the sin of pride as they live off the sweat of others. The more they stay on the entitlement programs, the more they feel entitled. It becomes a way of life. Now try to reduce or take away those entitlements to prevent the nation as a whole from going under. Ask those on entitlements to share in the financial woes everyone else is facing. Not surprisingly, as they feel the entitlements are, well, their entitlement, they act out as if their sacred rights are being violated.

It is no surprise that socialist European and British governments are finding that their social programs could not last forever. The problem is that they created a monster in the process, and that's the vast army of people now fully convinced that they are entitled to government payouts and social programs. Another problem is that socialism tends at the same time to suppress religion, thereby removing any sense of Christian obligation to society from those on entitlements.

And the United States is not far behind Europe in this regard. As the recent debt debate showed, America also cannot continue to spend like it is spending. Entitlements were at the heart of the debate, and both sides, but especially the socialist Democrats, were in the end unwilling to take the lollipop away. Entitlements were essentially left untouched. The politicians know that cutting benefits from those receiving them, even if they shouldn't be receiving them, is likely to have a negative impact on their chances of getting re-elected. So, instead of doing the ethical thing, they do the politically expedient thing. The people have figured out that they can vote themselves benefits from the public treasury, so now the elections go to those who promise the most to the most. The trouble is that this is not a sustainable position. We are seeing the fruits of the seeds that were planted in the 1930s.

The London rioters' behavior, as completely unacceptable as it is, nevertheless is not surprising. It is the fruit of what socialism planted. The rioters are behaving like spoiled children, and really that is what anyone who is hooked on entitlements is: a spoiled child. It is time for a new generation of truly ethical statesmen in both America and Europe to take back society from the socialists and rebuild under Christ's Holy Cross all that had made our societies great.