Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Robert Wilkerson: "Entitlement" is not a dirty word

  The word "entitlement" is not a dirty word. Although certain individuals and political parties have tried to convince us that it is. The word simply means "a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract."

  Programs designed to aid and assist needy Americans began with President Theodore Roosevelt, and they were added, or expanded, by several presidents following him as need dictated. They were created to help alleviate the suffering and distress among needy people who, due to no fault of their own (old age, disability, etc.), could not work. They were never for those who could work, but would not!

  Social Security is the largest of what some people call the entitlement programs. Actually, it began as a social contract between workers and the government. It said, "While you are working, we will take money from your paydays and save it for you until you retire—then we will send you a check each month to help you live in retirement."

  It wasn’t very costly at first. When Social Security began in 1935, the average life expectancy was 58 for men and 62 for women. Millions of workers died before they ever drew a dollar from the program. Today, the life expectancy is 74.8 years for men and 81.8 years for women. That means more people are living longer and are drawing more out of the fund, in some cases more than they put in.

  In addition to longer life expectancy adding to the costs, several different categories of people were added over the years, and the eligibility rules becoming too relaxed have also increased the cost.

  In summary, most of us paid our hard-earned money into the Social Security program for many years, and we expect to receive our retirement benefits from it. We don’t like to hear it called an entitlement program and we don’t like to be looked upon as deadbeats, lazy, or a burden to society. There are adjustments that can be made to Social Security, and other programs that will make them less expensive.

  In the meantime, we should do our best to do two things. First, we must see that those who deserve and need help get it, and those who don’t deserve it, don’t. Next, we need to shut the mouths of the ignorant who label people who receive any kind of money from the government as lazy and no good. They are not!

  About the author: Dr. Robert Wilkerson is a minister, writer, and founder of People for the Christian Way, an organization whose mission is to encourage all people to practice Christian principles in business, politics, and every area of life. drbobwilkerson[at],

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