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Sometimes, I read the comments at The Consumerist. Usually, I don't, because there's always at least one that makes me mourn for human decency.

The Consumerist is a pretty straight-forward site -- they write about various corporate practices, bad service, misdeeds, and, occasionally, good behavior. (Like that of Sock Dreams and Red Bubble, both of which re-shipped my orders free of additional charge after I stupidly mistyped my address.) Then people talk about it.

And they do stuff like have no sympathy or express disdain for people who can only find work holding Linen 'N' Things liquidation signs in freezing weather without clothing that is warm enough or for a 93-year-old man who freezes to death because the electric company put a limiter on his meter.

And this makes me think about the difference between what is perceived as socialist entitlement and capitalist entitlement. I hear people express disgust with "the Nanny State" and people who "expect the government to take care of them," but I just as often hear or read comments from people who expect that they deserve all consideration because they have the money to pay for it.

Which is worse? I admit I am a bit short on patience with people who want to live on disability or welfare without working to better their situations. However, I have met very few actual people who do this. For the most part, I know them only as strawman figments. I more often see actual people who expect that their consumer's dollar makes them superior -- that because they have the money to pay for better whatever than they must deserve it. The dude who mistook me for a hotel employee, spoke to me rudely, and then didn't bother to apologize. My crazy neighbor upstairs who thinks that because her husband is "a Silicon Valley executive" he is beyond reproach. The commenters on The Consumerist.

So the first kind of entitlement operates perhaps out of laziness, but also out of an assumption that people deserve to have food, shelter, and health no matter how much money they have or what kind of job they have. The second kind equates money with entitlement to not only human rights but special consideration.

So, again, which is worse?

Comments

( 4 messages received — Tell Me )
petercampbell
Feb. 6th, 2009 10:21 pm (UTC)
I think the perception that there's a huge number of people sucking on the teat of the nanny state is because the media (for which read:Rupert Murdoch)fall into the category of people who think that their money makes them beyond reproach.

Why should successful people behave that way? because to be successful you have to be ambitious, and ruthless. And because their money cocoons them from everyday life. How much of that are you going to see, jetting from country to country, living in hotels and living your life in boardrooms?
rae_beta
Feb. 7th, 2009 12:06 am (UTC)
Some of it, at least, comes from the persistent myth of the Protestant Work Ethic: that success is directly proportionate to virtue. It's a hybrid of the nastiest bits of Calvinism and Libertarianism, in which, if people not successful, it is because they do not deserve to be, and it is somehow abstractly blasphemous to give them a hand.
smuu
Feb. 7th, 2009 04:20 am (UTC)
Hypocracy. Hypocracy is always worst. So, the latter is worst.
stevapalooza
Feb. 11th, 2009 03:34 am (UTC)
I agree with your final point. I think poor people feel entitled to the stuff they need, while rich people feel entitled to the stuff they want. So in that sense I think Socialist entitlement is a little less odious. People ARE entitled to a certain level of human charity. But no one is entitled to a sumptuary standard of living.
( 4 messages received — Tell Me )

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