HEALTHCARE AND THE POLI-PSYCHOLOGY OF ENTITLEMENT

DSC_9022donsmallAs the debate over Healthcare Reform continues in Congress, some of you have asked me about roots of the conflicts between both sides.  In short, why isn’t Universal Healthcare a no-brainer in America?

I addressed our national preference for “no-brainers” in my recent article, “Does Your Idea Fit On A Handmade Sign? Why Thinking Too Much Makes Americans Angry.”  I could discuss the topic at length right now but I know you’re…busy.

At any rate, I’ve observed that understanding the Healthcare dilemma, and almost every other irresolvable conflict in American political life, comes down to one concept: Entitlement.

Let me define the term.

Entitlement is when you jump into the ocean to rescue a drowning man and, once you get him to shore, he complains about your technique.  And wonders what took you so long.  And hints there may be a lawsuit in your future if there’s any way he can get what he “deserves”.  

 Now, think about the family member or co-worker who irritates you most.  Like the brother-in-law you can’t stand.  Or the neighbor you despise.  Think about their attitude toward life and other people.  Got it?

 That’s Entitlement.

The contrast to Entitlement is Gratitude, which most of us have only seen in movies or read about in books.  You save the drowning man.  He invites you to dinner, names his next child after you, and shows up to speak at your funeral.

 What does this have to do with the Healthcare debate, you ask? 

 Have you noticed that we call a whole category of government programs “entitlements”?  Is it wise to encourage people to identify with the same unpleasant attitude you hate in your cousin?  Couldn’t we call them “gratitude programs” instead?  I suggest this idea knowing full well that, given a choice, our preference is to feel entitled rather than be grateful.  Especially in California.

 But don’t assume the conflict raging between Liberals and Conservatives has Entitlement on one side and Gratitude on the other.  In fact, BOTH sides strongly believe in Entitlement, especially keeping their own.  Liberals just think the best way to do that is to have everyone Entitled (which sounds like a great party but a bad idea).  Conservatives think Entitlement should be earned (presumably like they did.  Hmmm).

 Just think how different things would be if Congress had real Gratitude about being elected. 

 And be grateful that you’re not entitled like your sister.

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