What it supposedly means:
A program to give free money away to poor people who absolutely need** it.
Why it’s silly:
First and foremost, let’s take a look at that first word: entitlement. What are people in the programs “entitled” to? Your money. They didn’t earn it, yet they are entitled to it. Yeah, that doesn’t make sense to me either.
I personally do not think that anyone should receive my money or anyone else’s without earning it. Another way to think about “entitlements” is to think about them in terms of “rights.” “Rights” is another frequently misused word with a meaning similar to “entitlement.” You see, you have a right to certain things. For instance, you have the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and property (in other words, to keep your own property). You also have the right to bear arms, but that is another post. You do not have the right to take things that are not yours (that’s called stealing). You do not have the right to birth control. You do not have the right have a house. In other words, you are not entitled to any of these things.
One of the problems with “entitlement programs” is that they gives people a sense of, well, entitlement. While you may not realize it, these programs are dangerous. They create a culture where it is perfectly okay for people to demand things that they have no right to. The programs foster laziness. If you’re going to get money whether you work or not, then why work? They do away with the idea that some things are earned. Mr. Franklin put it quite nicely.
Entitlement program is a phrase that is bandied about quite a bit these day, particularly by politicians who do not understand why it is a silly word. So, when you hear this word, try to remember what it really means and why it’s so dangerous.
* Yes, I know this is two words. If that bugs you, then you can think about this particular topic as a “Silly Phrase.”
** I use that word in sarcasm, but I do understand that people do occasionally need assistance.