and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
October 2004 #2

Entitlement mentality runs gamut
from auto insurance to flu shots
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Friday, October 15, 2004

Whaddaya mean we can't get our flu shot this year?

We have a right to our flu shot.

Further, we are entitled to a CHEAP flu shot, even a free flu shot. I mean, we NEED it. Without it, we might get sick. So here we are, arms bared, waiting for the needle. 


Uh, dudes: What if no one wants to provide it? Time to take another look at the phrase "right to." And the word "entitled."

Start with the Declaration of Independence. We have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It's self-evident. God endowed us.

I'm sure Thomas Jefferson was correct about this. But what if no one wants to help us sustain our life? What if no one wants to be a doctor, or a nurse, or a drug company? Will God coerce "volunteers" to fulfill the endowment?

Waiting, waiting. WHERE IS GOD with my FLU SHOT!

Jefferson said government was instituted to secure our rights. So I guess if no one wants to be a doctor, a nurse, or a drug company, the government should draft them. You want to be a teacher? A carpenter? Run an airline or work for a utility company? Forget it; the government wants you in medicine.

But, but... we're entitled to an education, too. And to housing. Make that "affordable" housing.

We're entitled to travel across the country, in a few hours, for a few hundred dollars.

Heating oil, gas and electricity should be affordable. We are entitled to cheap gas for our cars.

I am, therefore I think I'm entitled. We need, therefore someone must provide. We want, so God and the government better make someone give us whatever.

But if some people are drafted to provide, are forced to give, what happens to their entitlement to liberty and the pursuit of their own happiness?

Of course, we all have to get together for the common good. We have to sacrifice some of our liberty to ensure life and the pursuit of happiness for all of us.

OK, so maybe Jefferson misspoke. He meant to say we have a right to life and the pursuit of happiness at the expense of other people's liberty and the singular pursuit of their own happiness. 

But what about those other people? Didn't God endow them, too?

Never mind, it's obvious what has to be done to get us our flu shots. The government has to tell American drug companies to hire more people (draft them if necessary), build more facilities, make and distribute more vaccines to doctors and clinics. And make it quick, and make it cheap. None of these obscene profits, you evil drug companies, you.

And since we have a right not only to flu shots, but to total medical care, the government may someday have to draft doctors. If they don't like it, too bad; and tell them to stop complaining about those malpractice insurance premiums. 

Tell the insurance companies to stop complaining about mandated coverage. Don't they understand we are ENTITLED to excellent, affordable health care, from doctors who don't make mistakes.

What, our own insurance premiums are going up ... AGAIN?! We have co-pays? Deductibles? Just to receive our endowment from God!?

We have a right to automobile insurance, too. There were insurance companies who didn't care to provide it under Massachusetts conditions anymore, and left the state. Our government wanted to force them to stay but, involuntary servitude having been abolished throughout the land, it had to settle for making them pay a fine if they leave. 

What if they all pay it? Funny, new companies aren't standing in line to locate here. Who will give us the auto insurance to which we are entitled?

I know they meant well, but perhaps our founding fathers should have given some thought to the law of unintended consequences before they began the revolution with a statement about rights. At the very least, they might have done a footnote: "Just because a right is self-evident doesn't mean that it is automatically provided at someone else's expense." 

Because what we seem to have, 228 years later, is a very unrealistic entitlement mentality built into our national outlook.

Where are my entitlements? Where's my affordable life at the expense of other people's liberties. And most of all, where's my darn flu shot? 

Tell me. I have a right to know.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem News and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence Journal and other newspapers.