Give Me That: Entitlement Ethics and The Destruction of Private Property

The definition of entitlement is the belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain special privileges or others property. Much of the narrative in modern Western culture centers around this definition in one way or another. Headlines are riddled with stories of entitlement and in many instances this behavior is being embraced. What does that mean for society?

The recent college admissions scandal taught us that if your performance can’t get you into a top level University just have your parents bribe your way in. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal outlined a world where those unwilling to work would be provided with economic security.

Many are appalled when they read these headlines but we didn’t get here overnight. It has been years of unwarranted privilege and degradation of property rights that led to entitlement ethics. But first to understand entitlement ethics we have to understand its foundation

At the root of entitlement ethics is envy, the desire or want of another individuals achievements, possessions, or qualities. All of us feel envy at some point in time but feeling and acting upon it produce two entirely different outcomes.

For years envy has been spreading throughout Western society like a virus. The end result and objective is a total destruction of private property. It really is the childhood memories we have of our playmate taking our toy because they don’t have one and they want it. This reversion to child like maturity is one that will not end peaceful because its rooted in coercion and violence.

As an entrepreneur I’ve been in dozens of partnerships and hundreds of contracts. Not all contracts or partnerships work out but for most of my career I have always been able to work with others to adapt and adjust the contract or relationship. It wasn’t always pretty but the respective parties worked collaboratively to find a solution everyone could live with.

I can’t say that anymore, I have seen more outright entitlement in my professional career in the last two years than the 15 years prior. Blatant disregard for contractual obligations, fraudulent behavior, and outright theft of property has left me dismayed at the state of our culture. A culture that does not have a high level of respect for others property or the commitments they make is a culture bound to slip into chaos.

I recently caught an exchange between my friend, C.Jay Engel and Richard Wolff on Twitter that is a great summation of the current dichotomy in our culture.

“In capitalism, employees do the work, get wages, salaries. Employers provide tools, equipment, raw materials, etc., get profits. But what employers provides was made by other employees.”

Richard D. Wolff – Twitter

In response to this tweet, C.Jay took a polarizing position from Richard Wolff.

“Absurd! Capitalists do 3 things: 1) provide the means of making a living immediately so that workers don’t have to wait for the final sale of a good; 2) bear the risk of consumers not valuing the good at a price above what it cost to produce. 3) purchase what the “other employee’s” made.”

C.Jay Engel – Twitter

This is a culture divided, a country in an existential crisis. One side of this argument is voluntarily working for another and their needs are being met immediately. The other side is also volunteering their resources but at the risk of losing everything.

The employer and employee is one of the kindest and most peaceful exchanges in our culture yet through entitlement ethics we have demonized this relationship and the role of the Employer. Even worse, we have created a sense of entitlement among employees. We have diminished the important role of the employer and capitalist as disciplined savers and producers that can offer means and immediate satisfaction to the majority of those in our society.

However, entitlement ethics does not care about discipline, performance, or hard work. The entitled in our society are only interested in equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity. And in its worst form the entitled are only interested in their own outcome being better than others.

Its not just the employer or capitalist that is under attack its everyone that owns property. As more law makers and thought leaders with entitlement ethics start to take the center stage the more our property is diminishing and being redistributed. This is occurring through taxation, regulation, social justice campaigns, and judicial activism. The means change but the end goal is the same, taking from others.

Yet it is always justified based on some social injustice and usually in a way that is quite believable. It is how we got here but at its core it can’t be defended on objective ethics that apply universally. There is always someone taking from another due to a perceived unfairness.

“My employer fired me for not doing my job, that is not fair, he should be taxed more to have to pay me anyway.” 

“My friend scored better than me on the ACT and got accepted to Stanford, that is not fair, my parents will pay to get me in too.”

“That billionaire has more than he can spend, that is not fair, his excess wealth should pay for me to stay at home with my kids.”

These are not absurd statements anymore but realities of where we stand. It is years of entitlement ethics seeping into the fabric of our society. Without a full restoration of property rights and contractual obligations this will not end well. I hate to write these words and have to face the reality of our current state but we have no choice but to face the reality of entitlement ethics.

It is going to take the bold few to be ardent defenders of property, their property and the property of others, to change our course. We must look not to the childhood memories of taking toys from others but look to the golden rule we learned from our parents when we committed this act. Go forward and treat others and their property how you would want to be treated. Lets leave entitlement ethics where it belongs, in our childhood.

“Let me offer you my definition of social justice: I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn. Do you disagree? Well then tell me how much of what I earn belongs to you and why?”

Walter E. Williams