Entitlements??

February 6, 2020

I already know that I’m not going to make friends on this blog article. The word “entitlements” is charged without even knowing the perspective or specific contextual meaning. Usually, we use the term Entitlements to mean benefits that one earns through working and paying into a system such as for social security retirement or Medicare insurance. After working for 40 years, and paying for 40 credits (quarters), one earns the right to have benefits paid out in the form of a social benefit payment known as social security. However, if one is disabled and by definition can’t work, one is entitled to claim benefits after as little as five years. That is, in our great country, we pay people social security disability after just a few years of working versus the full 40 years if they are able bodied.

So why am I bringing this up? Well, I have a friend that wants to retire and is complaining that he might have to work a couple  more years rather than retire now in order to help his family – disabled sister and invalid Mom out for a bit. But let’s look a little deeper. The family has resources that they are not using or wish to keep for later. So rather than sell one of their two properties (a home in an affluent city neighborhood as well as a vacation home in the outer banks) to take care of the disparity in their finances, they want to just live off of the government. My friend is complaining that the amount of money that his sister gets from food stamps which was reduced from $300 per month to $260 is outrageous (as he puts it) and so unfair. This is in addition to the money she gets for social security disability. Now I certainly am sorry that she can’t work and that she is caring for her daughter and yes, it’s difficult to eat well on that money. But I can also tell you that I’ve gone through tough times in my life, when I was starting my life coaching business and was living pretty meagerly. Sometimes one has to do that. What I’m hearing from him is that his family doesn’t want to give up anything, and that the government should take up the slack. He’s furious with the President, since of course it’s all Trump’s fault for his current situation. If it were me, I’d sell one of the properties, accept that the vacation home is a luxury that isn’t affordable in the current climate and then live comfortably with the money one gains. No, unfortunately, he doesn’t agree (and I didn’t actually say that only thought it).

Why do people think the government should take care of everyone to such an extent that family should never have to help out? Who is the government but us individuals who pay taxes into a system? At what point are we paying for a lot of other people to live well because their families don’t want to help them? It all comes down to a bank account of ins and outs. I’ve saved all my life and in putting money away for a raining day I had to give up some meals out, some special activities that I didn’t attend, etc. I’ve watched this friend spend lots of money on special programs not giving any thought to whether he could really afford it or not. Where is it written that we have the RIGHT to fancy restaurant meals, Starbucks café coffees daily rather than as a special treat or other niceties?  We all have to make choices and it really irks me to listen to this guy complain about the current administration and how his problems are all due to the Government and not in his own financial management.  He also told me that he would have to figure out how to get his 88 year old Mom a car so his sister could drive her around. Perhaps Uber for the few trips would be more economical or a special ride program. Oh no, they’d never be able to drive up the long drive way. He has an answer for everything. Well, perhaps the big home they’re living in is no longer suitable for his Mom and sister. Again, they don’t want to make any changes. It’s easier to just blame everything on the government.

I’ve written about personal accountability before, but this is a bit different. We can’t expect the government to do EVERYTHING. I feel that his sister is getting a lot from the government. When I asked about the other services available to her, he just brushed me off. He knows I’m one of the millions of crazy people who actually voted for this President and who is very happy with this economy which is very much due to his economic policies. And that’s my side of the story.


A Tough Lesson to Learn

March 16, 2012

Someone close to me is enduring a very difficult life lesson, the spiritual context of which he’s not yet aware. From where I’m sitting, I see that his wife and daughter don’t pay much attention to him when he tries to communicate with them. I’m not sure if this is in response to his neglectful behavior or whether it was they who first neglected him. These situations tend to have long, winding and complicated histories with only the tentacles visible to those around the individuals of concern. The result is a very unhappy person who does his best to work hard to provide for all the luxuries that his very materialistic family has come to expect. Yes, this is a definite example of entitlement to the nth degree. So what’s the lesson?

Once a year I go for a visit and I was told that he would not be available during my stay of six days. At first I was rather irritated since I’d provided my itinerary over six months in advance. Then I realized that there must be something more serious going on since he told me when we spoke that, “I’ll be ok and not to worry”. When someone makes such statements one immediately begins to wonder what they shouldn’t be worried about. Just what is the problem? How serious is it that it can’t be simply stated? I really dislike secrecy since I think it causes more harm than good.

Here’s a bit more background. Let’s call this person Bob, which is a name change for privacy sake. Bob is a very highly-educated professional, running a business with multiple employees and has provided a high standard of living for his family. His wife and daughter have anything they could possibly want. I gave up worrying about what to buy them as gifts years ago since my offerings could never meet the standards of which they had come accustomed to so I just bought what I could afford and left it at that. It’s also important to note that I’ve never been jealous of what they had either, since I could never afford to buy the kind of clothes, cars, jewelry or other luxuries that they had, nor did I care about it. I’m happy with what’s within my reach and was also happy for them if it truly made them happy to have these things.

After actually leaving on my trip and arriving at my destination, I was surprised to find that Bob hadn’t gone wherever he was going…yet. We were able to share a couple meals together but without the mention of what was wrong or where he was going. I did notice, however, that during the lunch that his wife and daughter seemed a lot nicer to him. So what happened? Bob is aging and has come down with an illness. The old adage is that money can’t buy love, but the fear of dying can certainly change perspectives. Bob was ignored before and disrespected, but from where I was sitting, it sure looked like reality (as in he might not be around forever) set in.

So how does the life lesson work? Bob wasn’t getting his needs met. He was being nice to everyone around him. He has a wonderful nature, is of service to his community, yet, went home to an emotional shell. When he got sick, it was a wakeup call to his family. I certainly hope that he gets well and that everyone realizes that money does buy things, but that’s all they are, just things. People and what they bring to our lives are much more important. We all should value what we have before it’s too late.

I hope both Bob and his family learn the lesson of being less material and more spiritual. The universe has a way of pulling us back into balance… sometimes kicking and screaming. Sometimes it’s a tough lesson but one that we all need to learn at some point in our lives.


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