Skip to main content


Using the word "entitlements" to refer to SS, Medicare and Medicaid is a somewhat contentious issue around here. Alot of that has to do with how the Democrats (including the President) use the word, which isn't surprising given how the Dems buy into the right-wing framework on deficits and the economy as a whole.

From what I've witnessed in the various DKOs discussions on the E-word, the people that are okay with using it usually do so with that patented Democratic resignation towards overcoming anything that the right-wing does, especially in terms of messaging. Often the question put to them is "Why not call them 'earned benefits', on account of, you know, having to pay into the system your whole life to earn the benefits?" The common reply I see is "Well then the right-wingers will just demonize that term too, so it's hopeless!" and we all go around accepting right-wing terminology like it's a law of nature.

I'd have thought the negative connotations of using "entitlements" to refer to SS, Medicare and Medicaid would be obvious enough that there would be no real discussion needed on this topic, but... This is an explicitly partisan Democratic website. So I'm gonna go through this real slow. I'm going to start by typing out the word "entitlements" and then bolding the part of the word that's a problem. Ready?

Entitlements.

There. Right there. See it? How the word "entitle" is in bold? Have you ever heard that word bandied about by the right-wingers in your life?

For example, "Goddamn liberals just feel entitled to government handouts."

"Fucking blacks think they're entitled to a slice of my paycheck."

"Oh so you think you're entitled to government services bailing you out all the time?"

That's sort of been a running theme with the right wing for a long time, and even moreso since the Reagan era: the idea that "liberals" as well as everyone who's not white feels entitled to free stuff from the government that they don't deserve. There's no real problem with the healthcare system, it's just the Takers feeling entitled to free shit from the government, amirite? They feel entitled to things without having to work for them. That's the idea, anyway.

So now that we understand why the word "entitled" has been used almost exclusively as a cudgel-word by the right wing, perhaps it is easier to see why using the term "entitlements" to describe SS and Medicare is done deliberately to maximize the negative connotations commonly associated with that word in society today. It's attaching the "moocher" stigma to Social Security.

Of course SS and Medicare are not "free services"; we all pay into SS and (supposedly) earn our share when it comes time to retire. Yes we are "entitled" to that, because we earned it. This is why "earned benefits" are a more accurate term for the programs: because it's actually a true descriptor for them.

"But Boogalord, they'll just demonize the term 'earned benefits!"

They can try. But if Democrats actually go out and make a thing out of using "earned benefits" to describe social programs that are widely popular and widely used among the American public, it's going to be alot harder to demonize the phrase "earned benefits" than "entitlements". Again, "earned benefits" is not only a more accurate descriptor, it's a phrase that isn't loaded by years and years of right-wing venom.

I hope I've helped make this clear. Do you guys seriously wonder why we're losing the message war?

Of course, I've only touched on the Republican side of using "entitlements". Democrats have accepted that term along with most other aspects of right-wing deficit hysteria, and they use "entitlements" because they too are open to "reforming" the social safety net. The term "entitlements" makes it seem easier to swallow any kind of cuts to the programs; after all, we don't want people in society to feel too entitled, do we? And everyone knows the programs are going to run out of money soon, right?

Getting the Dems to stop using the term is probably a lost cause because they're clearly not interested in actually doing what needs to be done with those programs (expanding them). But please, do yourself a favor, and the next time you're involved with a discussion on "entitlements".... Don't call them that. I really don't know how else to spell it out.

Discuss

I remember waaaaaaay back when the sequester was proposed. At the time, it was meant to be a package of cuts so harmful that the R's and D's would come to a deal, any deal, to prevent them from happening. Back then, the key word was "harmful". For the R's, there were cuts to the military, because literally everyone knows that's the only thing the R's will care about being cut. That's just accepted among everyone in America, be it the everyman on the street, the media, or the Dems. The cuts that the Dems would supposedly do anything to stop were things that are capable of helping poor people. Housing relief. Headstart. Public defenders. Home heating assistance. The cutting of government employee jobs all across state and local levels.

Obviously, we know that this hypothetical doomsday package is now very much a reality. We also know which cuts the parties actually found to be intolerable, and they weren't the cuts to the poor. I don't mean to waste anyone's time, but sometimes when I hear people on this site talk about how the sequester is really the best we could make out of a bad situation, it helps to remember that those people are wrong. The sequester was designed to be harmful in real, tangible ways. It's not the best of a bad situation. It's the worst-case scenario come to life, by design.

Continue Reading

Though we know many of the details leading up to the killing of Trayvon Martin, the actual physical altercation between him and GZ will remain forever a mystery. Nobody knows who threw the first punch. We know that at one point a witness saw TM on top of GZ, which does not tell us anything about the fight other than at some point, GZ was losing.

And yet it is a widespread meme that TM "assaulted" GZ, prompting his "self-defense". Indeed, the only reason I'm writing this diary is because this meme seems to be accepted by many people even on this website.

And so, a friendly reminder to all those who go around saying that it was TM who assaulted GZ: not only do you not know that, you are basing your "knowledge" on the account of a man who (based on known facts) was clearly intent on a confrontation with TM, and whose story has multiple holes consistent with the phenomenon of being a big fat fucking liar.

We know that GZ did not have to pursue TM after he called the police, and was even told that he did not have to do so by the 9/11 dispatch, but pursued (with his gun) anyway. We know GZ was in a particularly aggressive state of mind ("fucking punks", "these assholes always get away", being armed). We know that GZ claimed TM jumped out of the bushes, and we know that although the bushes did exist, they were certainly not giant man-height bushes right up against the sidewalk. We know GZ claimed he got out of his truck to look for addresses and street signs in a neighborhood he had lived in for years, the neighborhood he had patrolled numerous times as the "neighborhood watchman". We know that GZ claimed TM was bashing his head into the sidewalk multiple times, and we know the  medical examiner testifying for the prosecution stated that not only were his wounds "insignificant" and "not life-threatening", they could have been the result of a single punch to the face followed by the back of GZ's head hitting the pavement. According to the prosecutions testimony, "The injuries are so minor that the word slam implies great force. There was not great force used here."

We know that Trayvon was walking home to his Dads with Skittles in his pocket.

Personally, I see absolutely no reason to assume that Trayvon began the physical altercation. Furthermore, I find the concept of anyone accepting GZ's story as fact to be highly dubious.

Of course, according to Florida's abhorrent self-defense laws, who started the physical altercation apparently doesn't really matter. If GZ "felt" his life was in danger, he is apparently entitled to use deadly force, even if his life was not truly in danger (which, according to the prosecutions testimony, it wasn't). That is another discussion in itself; the purpose of this diary is more narrow. I am disturbed by the meme of TM assaulting poor GZ and would like to help expose it.

So please. The next time you are involved in a discussion on this case, on this site or elsewhere, and you run into the "TM had no right to assault GZ" meme, kindly point out how absolutely baseless it is. Why would you believe GZ's story when he was so obviously set on a confrontation with Trayvon, and when his story is so full of holes? Do you have any good reason for it? It's a question worth asking.

Continue Reading

I work at a gas station and last night I was training the new girl. We're both white, she's early-thirties, I'm 24. A black guy walks in, big t-shirt, saggy shorts, dreads, probably just a little younger than me. He's on the phone. He says "Where da blunts at, man," and I point them out, he says "Thanks" and buys the cigars. The girl (let's call her Sarah) rings the guy up, does her thing, says "Have a nice day" even though he's still on the phone talking to his friend, and he leaves. The door closes and Sarah says, in a sort of even, not-really-irritated voice, "Well, he could be less black."

I cocked my head slightly and looked at her. I smiled and said the first thing that came to mind. "Well, maybe you could be less white, huh?"

And she kinda laughed and said "Yeah" and she was obviously embarrassed so I just kinda let it go. She's just training and I had just met her and I wasn't about to start a Big Conversation About Race right there. But it got me thinking.

Continue Reading
You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.

RSS

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site