The term "entitlement" is being bandied about a lot lately and my feeling is that in most cases it is used in the perjorative sense. The actual definition is quite a bit different than what many people seem to choose to believe. I hope this will add a bit of clarity.
According to Wikipedia an Entitlement "is a guarantee of rights or benefits based on established rights or legislation." Loosely put, this means it is a legal obligation. The Defintion goes further...
"A right itself, is an entitlement associated with a social or moral principal, such that an entitlement is a provision made in accordance with the legal framework of a society."
While this may seem complicated, I had to read it 5 times myself to understand it.....it means essentially that in a legal sense, an "entitlement" is a legally and socially binding obligation. The picture on the left is that of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who pushed to get our Social Security implemented, at time when 75% of the nation's elderly lived in poverty. These, my friends are not opinions....just well documented historical facts.
Merriam Webster defines "entitlement" so similarly that I will not trouble you with restating essentially what Wikipedia says. But if you doubt me, look it up yourself. My difficulty comes with the perjorative use of the term, which suggests that an "undeserving person" feels "entitled to something" that they did little or nothing to deserve.
Let's do a little reality check, and set the partisan politics aside for a second. I, like most of you that will ever read this, have worked most of my entire life since I was 12 years old. That puts me now at 44 years of employment. All of those years, Social Security, Unemployment, and Medicare was withheld from my every paycheck. Further, now that I am once again self employed - I am hit with the full 15% self employment tax. I feel that I have been blessed from an income standpoint, and during the majority of my working career, I have exceeded the maximum amount of taxable income for these programs and therefore have made probably paid in about the same amout of money as Bill Gates of Microsoft, and very likely more than Warren Buffet.
So when you start to use the word "government entitlement", I hope that you will realize that I and my employers have paid an enormous amount of money into these systems (minimally in my case over $200,000. Plus accrued interest, I would estimate the US Government got into me for well over $500,000 over all these years. Further, Social Security, is not the cause of the Federal Deficit, the cause of the Federal Deficit is unfunded government spending. Much of it for wars....and the resulting debt of wars, and finally Veterans Benefits. Combined Pentagon spending is very near 50% of the budget. They keep in different buckets so....in some cases you can say its only 35% or so....but this does not include VA Benefits, Pensions, and the Debt spent to fight wars.
Social Security is not now, nor ever was it unfunded. Was the the Social Security money withheld from all of our paychecks misused? misappropriated? you bet it was by the very type of folks who want to cut "entitlements".
As far as I am concerned, our contributions to these government programs are just as binding of debt and obligation as any Treasury Bill that the Government may have issued to China or anywhere else. Stealing from working folks by calling their hard earned tax dollars "entitlements" is the biggest crock of shit anyone ever tried to perpetrate on the American People. I hope you will join me in getting Mad As Hell - about Politicians using the word Entitlement as a perjorative. Social Security for the people that have supported it for all of these years is a "moral obligation and legal debt", owed by the United States Goverment. The people who say otherwise are thieves and liars.