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Entitlement mentality

Good manners are rare these days, says George Will, and I agree.

Maybe it's just easier to notice bad manners than good manners, but when Will talks about people with cell phones and iPods who act as if they're completely unaware of other people around them, it sounds familiar to me. Even more annoying than the iPod solipsists Will mentions are the folks who gather in groups of two or three or more for a leisurely conversation -- right in the middle of a narrow sidewalk, or in a crowded doorway. I used to commute to my job at a bookstore in Denver along a bike path downtown, and during the lunch hour there'd always be clusters of middle-aged office workers chatting it up as they sprawled out across the middle of the bike path. "Excuse me! Coming through!" Fucknuts.

So I agree that much with George Will, but no further. When Will gets around to the reasons for today's bad manners, I wonder if he's put his brain on autopilot: "But today's entitlement mentality, which is both a cause and a consequence of the welfare state, manifests itself in the attitude that it is all right to do whatever one has a right to do."

Hmm. The welfare state?

In Colorado Springs where I grew up, I met a lot of people who suffered from an "entitlement mentality." But they weren't all recipients of welfare state largesse like food stamps and Section 8 housing assistance. Most of the "entitled" people I met were the folks who complained the loudest about the "welfare state." The retired Air Force colonels with RVs in the driveway who felt entitled to be insulated from all the noises of rambunctious neighborhood kids, but who seemed to have forgotten that they'd chosen to live in a kid-friendly subdivision rather than on 50 acres of farmland. Or the local entrepreneur who owned an office-supply store and felt entitled to pay no taxes whatsoever because he'd earned that money "himself." Never mind that the stable and peaceful community that was a prerequisite for his store's flourishing depended upon social programs that went beyond just fire trucks and armed police officers to arrest shoplifters.

I don't think that people who talk too loud in restaurants or who congregate in doorways always do so because they feel entitled. But Will may be right that an "entitlement mentality" is to blame for people's unwillingness to take account of the people around them. What Will can't seem to recognize is that rabid conservatism can leave one feeling obnoxiously entitled, too.


Spot on.

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