One of the most confused issues of our day is the understanding of rights. Americans are supposed to enjoy the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and largely what this used to mean is protection from anyone who would take these things away from you. This “protection from” approach is polar opposite from what has developed and continues to develop, an “entitled to” approach. I am entitled to my house no matter how reckless and foolish I was when I “bought” it with no money down. If I’m in danger of losing it, others are required to pay for it through government bail out programs, the very others who acted with caution and chose not to engage in such risky behavior.
Any parent–but even as I write that I realize it’s entirely false because so many parents don’t–understands that if you don’t follow disobedience with consequences, you’re reinforcing the disobedience. You get more of what you penalize and less of what you subsidize.
Bailout responses to the financial crisis is only the most recent manifestation of the entitlement mindset that has been with us for well over a century, but it illustrates the point well. When you penalize virtue and reward foolishness, you get more of the latter. People are outraged at top execs of companies who received bailout money when they subsequently dole out all sorts of bonuses and massive perks. But who taught them that? Who taught them they could be financially reckless and still operate? Who enabled this? The same politicians who wag their fingers. Shocking: people who ran their businesses into the ground are still reckless, even after taking money from politicians. It’s like watching a man yell at his wife, and then turn around and yell at his kids for dishonoring her. (more…)