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November 24, 2012 / W. Stanton Smith

Makers vs. Takers: the wrong way to frame a debate

The discussion of entitlements and makers vs takers is very much in the air today. Even some gen y’s are expressing the view that their generation has an entitlement mentality. I agree that this attitude exists in gen y but also in every other generation…just looks different.

In fact I believe that the word “entitlement” and the phrase “Makers vs. Takers” have been so politicized that they both have lost the capacity to be descriptive in a way that moves a much needed discussion forward. What is really being talked about in the entitlements discussion is a belief that we as a society, especially  gen y, are relatively lacking in self-sufficiency  and expect an obstacle-free life.

As I have aged and had to contend with a serious illness (Parkinsons Disease), I have modified my beliefs as to my own self-sufficiency. To paraphrase the poet John Donne “No one is an island” not even the so-called self-made successful businessperson or politician.

We face a fundamental choice in the direction our society will take. We can make all of our lives relatively short and brutal by dividing ourselves into makers and takers. In contrast we can face up to the fact that we all can have better quality of life if we cooperate with each other and accept that we’re all in this life together.

Life in and of itself presents obstacles to be overcome. We don’t have to add in extra problems that could be avoided. Some of us are gifted with the ability and drive to overcome barriers quite successfully while others struggle for a lifetime. Why make their struggles more difficult than they really need be? Is it really out of concern for their growth or some other motivation that is not so laudable like the need to feel superior to others who are less deserving in our opinion? These are questions I’ve asked myself over my career as I’ve come to grips with the ups and downs of life. The reality of our interconnectedness (whether or not we like each other or believe someone or group of ”someones” is deserving) is not optional. We breathe each others air and can make each other’s lives so much better or worse. Let’s recognize our interconnectedness and take a step towards solving our mutual problems in a way that gives hope to us all.

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  1. John L. Indo / Nov 25 2012 7:06 am

    People in our society are “entitled” only to “due process and equal protection of the law” as provided for in our national Constitution. Corollary to this, of course, is the pursuit of rights and equities also provided for in the national Constitution. But, rights that are not perceived might as well not exist; and, as is well known to history and the common experience, timely oppressive or infirm conditions tend to distort one’s perception.
    Consequently, people should be “entitled,” to equitable conditions that allow them a fair and equitable opportunity to “do for themselves,” all facts considered, rather than being simply “done” by the public sector.

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