It was a 1984, or maybe an ‘85, Toyota pickup truck.
He was plodding along at about 55MPH on the Glenn Highway, crossing the Palmer Hay Flats heading into Anchorage in morning traffic.
The fact that he was actually in the slow lane was noteworthy in and of itself, given that about 99% of Valley commuters simply can’t seem to wrap their pointy heads around the concept of Left Lane Fast, Right Lane Slow. Alaska doesn’t have mandatory drivers ed classes in high school and it shows. But I digress.
So there he was, ‘84 (or maybe ‘85) Toyota pickup. It might have been white once, back when people listened to Blondie on stereo cassette tapes, but the truck’s primary color now was the burnt orange of rust and the dull threadbare gray of worn duct tape smothered in at least two decades of road dust. I could easily see the vehicle’s internal components, and daylight, through the holes. The windshield was cracked and a loose fender flare was flapping in the slipstream. The bed was filled with the usual detritus you’d find in the back of any similar Alaskan vehicle: empty beer cans and broken fishing poles, a worn out rimless tire and a five gallon bucket crusted with last year’s dried salmon guts and an empty gas-can labeled “2-stroke” in large black marker.
On a good day the whole rig, dried fish guts and all, was worth maybe, maybe, a thousand bucks tops.
And on the back window?
A brand new bumper-sticker:
You’re Not Entitled To My Stuff!
As I passed him I looked over fully expecting to see the usual Valley Bush Habitant, i.e. a scowling angry greybeard with a roll-your-own clenched firmly between thin bloodless lips. Instead the driver was a clean cut youngster, twenty maybe.
That’s right, a member of the so-called Entitlement Generation.
You’re not entitled to my stuff.
I had to smile at the irony as I passed him in my fifty thousand dollar GMC truck (which, I might add is paid off). I’m not entitled to your stuff? Don’t worry, Kid, your POS rustbucket is probably safe from my entitled covetousness (though I might snatch that snot encrusted bait bucket given half a chance).
You’re not entitled to my stuff.
Everywhere you turn nowadays that’s what you hear: you’re not entitled to my stuff. The government isn’t entitled to my money. The jobless aren’t entitled to my job or my unemployment benefits. The aged aren’t entitled to my social security or my Medicare, hell it’s nothing but a damned Ponzi scheme anyway. The uninsured aren’t entitled to my healthcare, they can always use the free medical at the emergency room. The illegals aren’t entitled to my country, even if they were born here and have lived here their whole lives the same as me. Gays aren’t entitled to my marriage, minorities aren’t entitled to my civil rights, women aren’t entitled to their own bodies, blacks aren’t entitled to live in my neighborhood. The poor aren’t entitled to anything because really, screw those those lazy bastards.
You are not entitled to my stuff. It’s mine.
That’s what’s wrong with the current generation, right? They’re a bunch of spoiled rotten brats. They think they’re entitled to everything, good jobs, healthcare, early retirement, safe neighborhood, strong economy, big house with a chicken in the pot and a new truck in the garage – they think they’re entitled to the “American dream.” They think they’re entitled to their own stuff.
Wonder where they got that stupid idea?
You’re not entitled to my stuff.
That’s what we’re telling them now, you know. At high school graduation, on the TV and the radio, from the pulpit and the politicians. There’s even a Facebook page, You’re Not Entitled To What I’ve Earned. Here’s a sample of what you’ll find there:
“Maybe your back is sore? Maybe you have a headache? The ones who choose not to work don't experience these things because they do nothing but sit on their lazy butts. We were not put on this earth to pay for their bad choices. I say to the entitlement class, get up off your couch and go look for a job. We are sick and tired of our tax money going to a worthless cause!!!! If you agree please hit the "like button" You’re Not Entitled To What I’ve Earned!!!!”
Every post ends with that tag line, You’re Not Entitled To What I’ve Earned!!!!, just to make sure you lazy bastards get the message. You’re not entitled to my stuff (but I am, however, entitled to a like or two).
The guy that started that Facebook page really, really hates the entitlement mentality.
And why shouldn’t he, right?
Really, where do you snot-nosed brats get off thinking you’re special anyway? Who raised you people? Who put that idea in your silly little heads? Who’s responsible for how you greedy punks turned out? Who? Boy, you never saw this kind of crap in the Greatest Generation, that’s for sure. Used to be each generation was raised to think it was shitty and worthless and less than the one that came before – because, man, nothing motivates kids like that.
But not the Entitlement Generation.
See, that’s what happens when you’re all full of self esteem – you end up thinking you’re better than Jesus.
It’s the goddamned liberals, isn’t it? They’ve been telling you little slackers that you’re special for two generations now. You never saw conservatives filling your heads with that kind of nonsense, no Sirree, you never heard a Republican talking about “exceptionalism” or how Americans are “the favored of God,” none of that crap. No, it was Barney the Dinosaur and the Bear in the Big Blue House, Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street and the rest of those politically correct namby-pambies. Sure. They’re the ones. They’ve been telling you that you’re all special little snowflakes.
Rush Limbaugh had it right, didn’t he?
“You are not supposed to insult the children. You are not supposed to damage the children. You are not supposed to harm the children. You are not supposed to hurt the children. You are not supposed to attack the children. You are not supposed to criticize the children. Everything we do is for the children. And you're not supposed to criticize them. You're not supposed to hurt their feelings. You're not supposed to harm them… “
And now? Because you weren’t criticized and hurt and damaged on a regular basis look how you turned out. Now, you’re all a bunch of spoiled, rotten, selfish, limp-wristed pisswillies. You’re ruining this country with your gimme mentality. Gimme, gimme, gimme. Goddamned Entitlement Generation, it’s all your fault for the mess we find ourselves in.
Well you know what? You’re not special. You’re not exceptional. You’re not entitled to anything.
You want something? You’ll need to get off your fat lazy asses and work for it.
That’s right, work for it, just like we did.
As long as we’re at it, let me tell you what else you’re not entitled to:
You’re not entitled to the world’s biggest baddest military. That’s right. There’s not one damned thing in the Constitution about you being entitled to the world’s largest or most powerful or most technologically advanced military. You don’t get a cookie for being biggest. You’re not entitled to a nuclear arsenal ten times bigger than anything you’d ever need even if you wanted to destroy every living thing on the planet, which you’re also not entitled to do. You’re not entitled to the world’s most powerful fleet. You not entitled to throw out perfectly serviceable cruisers and destroyers and frigates just because you want new ones every few years. You’re not entitled to the world’s most awesome fighter aircraft that happens to cost $200 million dollars a copy when the previous $20 million dollar fighter was better than anything else in the world. You’re not entitled to invisible bombers at $2 billion dollars a pop. You’re not entitled to the world’s best tank. You’re not entitled to a standing army that’s trained and equipped to fight two wars at a time. And while we’re on the subject, you’re not entitled to start a war any time you please just because you have that great big huge military equipped with all the latest weapons. Yes, that’s right, you’re not entitled to reach for the military option first just because diplomacy is hard or just because you only know how to solve problems with your fists. And if you do decide to start a war, you’re not entitled to pass the bill onto the next generation – you start it, then you’re entitled to pay for it even if that means raising taxes and giving up some of the things you think you’re entitled to. Something else, if you do go to war, you’re not entitled to pretend like you didn’t – what I mean here is you’re not entitled to slap a two dollar magnet on the back of your giant SUV and then pretend like you’ve actually contributed to the war effort. You sent the troops off to war, you’re not entitled to act like you don’t owe them equipment and funding from the very first day boots hit the ground on foreign soil even if all the folks back home have to give up their entitlements to pay for it. You’re not entitled to act like some of those soldiers aren’t coming home in a doggie bag and when they do you’re not entitled to turn your head away. Here’s something else, If you’ve never served, if you got yourself a nice big shiny deferment (or five) during the last conflict, you’re not entitled to go around telling the current generation that they’re not real patriotic Americans if they don’t want to serve in this one. If you’ve never served in actual combat yourself, if you spent the last war safe and snug in the Reserves or the National Guard because your daddy got you a cushy assignment guarding a whorehouse in Louisiana, then you are not fucking entitled to denigrate those who have put their lives on the line – even if they are liberals.
You’re not entitled to not pay taxes just because you’re rich. You’re not entitled to go around whining about how you shouldn’t have to pay at the same rate as everybody else because you allegedly create jobs – except of course you’ve had those tax exemptions since the Bush Administration and you and your pals in the venture capital world have yet to create a single goddamned job. In fact, you’re not entitled to talk about how the American jobless rate is over eight percent when you’re the asshole who outsourced all the jobs to India and Mexico in the first place – just because it made for a momentary increase in the bottom line during your whole one year tenure as a serial CEO. You’re not entitled to live without the consequences just because you work on Wall Street. You’re not entitled to a golden parachute and twenty million dollar bonuses when everybody else in the company you turned into a smoking crater is out on the street and the stockholders are left with nothing but a pile of worthless paper. You’re not entitled to stick the rest of us with all the risk and none of the profit when you use our retirement funds to make bad investments. You’re not entitled to bankrupt businesses and liquidate jobs and squander bailout funds on parties and bonuses and then lecture the rest of us on the virtue of living within our means. You’re not entitled to sell bad investments and fraudulent mortgages and generally behave like a fat greedy pig at a trough and then have the nerve act like you’re some kind of a stodgy carefully conservative business genius. You’re not entitled to live outside the law just because you’ve got millions in the bank. You’re not entitled to make anonymous political contributions and buy elections and claim that you’re just engaging in “freedom of speech.” You’re not entitled to make billions, billions, in quarterly profits and then claim that you need more billions in government subsides to remain profitable – and, of course, create those jobs you keep promising us. And while we’re on that subject, you’re not entitled to demand government subsides and then donate money to political parties because you’re “opposed to socialism.”
You’re not entitled to hijack God. Yes, that’s right, You. Are. Not. Entitled. To. God. You are not entitled to tell everybody else what they should and should not believe. You’re not entitled to declare America “a Christian Nation” – or a Muslim nation, or a Jewish nation, or even an atheist nation. You’re not entitled to rewrite the Constitution to include Jesus, Mohammad, or the Great Sauce Covered Noodley-Appendaged Pasta Monster – and the same goes for the schoolbooks. You’re not entitled to be offended when the rest of us don’t want your deity’s nose jammed up our colons – or shoved into our uteruses (you ever notice how your god seems to have an inordinate fixation with the lower orifices? But I digress yet again, as I am entitled to do). You and your anally-fixated god are not entitled to make the rest of us live in the Bronze Age – you want to reside back there that’s fine, but you’re not entitled to force your god’s version of morality, marriage, law, or salvation onto the 21st Century. You are not entitled to other consenting adults’ sex lives and I don’t care what your magic book says, it doesn’t matter if you don’t approve or you think it’s a lifestyle choice or you just find it icky – it’s none of your god’s goddamned business and you’re not entitled to act like it is. You’re not entitled to make the rest of us ignore math, history, physics, biology, astronomy, and every other branch of human knowledge and endeavor just because your pet priest, minister, pastor, shaman, or other such juju magic man feels his meal-ticket is threatened by science. Guess what? Those religious “leaders” aren’t entitled to live off the fear and hate and wide-eye gullibility of the masses either, if they want to eat they’re entitled to get a real job – just exact like you keep telling the poor and the current generation to do. They’re not entitled to extort compliance from the rest of us with their religion’s ridiculously overblown threats of eternal torment, if you need the childish prospect of lakes of fire and chains of ice in order to keep from murdering and stealing and coveting asses, well, that’s your behavioral disorder you’re not entitled to make it mine. Oh, and you’re not entitled to refer to your unsupported and non-falsifiable fairytale as The Truth or demand that I respect it either, just saying.
You’re not entitled to act like you’re the only person on the planet. You’re not entitled to go around telling everybody else that you’re exceptional – you’re not entitled to pretend like your shit doesn’t stink, you’re not entitled to do and say and take anything you like, you’re not entitled to crap all over the rest of the world, you’re not entitled to tell everybody else to kiss your ass and that God loves you best of all. You’re not entitled to a vastly higher standard of living than everybody else. You’re not entitled to demand that everybody else speak English – in fact you’re not entitled to expect everybody else to know three or four languages while you can barely manage one. You’re not entitled to consume 70% of the world’s total resources. You’re not entitled to throw away food while the rest of the world goes hungry. You’re not entitled to drive a Hummer that gets five miles per gallon while bitching about how come the President don’t make gas cheaper right now – and you’re not entitled to be completely ignorant of how the price of global commodities, like gasoline for example, are determined by the law of international supply and demand and not by wishful thinking. You’re the guy who wants unregulated and unfettered capitalism, you’re not entitled to whine about the consequences of the free market. You’re also not entitled to be all smug about driving that electric hybrid and pretending to save the planet while completely ignoring what it takes to make those high-tech exotic element batteries – or dispose of them for that matter – or what it really takes to charge them up every day.
You’re not entitled to live out the day. You’re not entitled to clean air or drinkable water. You’re not entitled to food that won’t kill you. You’re not entitled to beer that won’t make you blind from wood grain alcohol or dead from formaldehyde or botulism. You’re not entitled to decent sanitation. You’re not entitled to safe and dependable medicine and you’re not entitled to doctors who went to an actual medical school. You’re not entitled to live without vermin or disease or the black death. You’re not entitled to live through your morning commute, you’re not entitled to seatbelts or decent roads free of roving highwaymen or even standardized rules that the other idiots on the road are supposed to know before they can get behind the wheel. You’re not entitled to renter’s protections or lemon laws. You’re not entitled to safe bridges or working stoplights. You’re not entitled to expect your children to survive until adulthood – in fact, if we left it up to your merciful god three quarters of your kids would be dead from typhus and polio and measles and saber-toothed cats before they reached adulthood. You’re not entitled to a safe working environment or a workplace free from harassment and intimidation and extortion. You’re not entitled to throw trash out your window and expect somebody else to clean it up. You’re not entitled to reliable technology or standardized electricity or the internet. You’re not entitled to radio frequency bands that are free of pirate stations, and you’re not entitled to TV and Radio stations that broadcast using a modulation you can decipher without proprietary equipment. You’re not entitled to elevators that don’t fall twenty stories and explode. You’re not entitled to lead-free paint. And you’re not entitled to pretend like the magic free market will naturally regulate all of these things despite the fact that it never has, ever. You’re not entitled to air conditioning. You’re not entitled to national parks. You’re not entitled to affordable fresh fruit and vegetables the year around while bitching about those damned illegal aliens – and while we’re on this subject, you’re also not entitled to hire undocumented nannies and gardeners and day laborers off the corner every single day and then pretend like you’re not part of the problem. You’re not entitled to go to bed with a full belly every single night. You’re not entitled to a living wage. You’re not entitled to a retirement. You’re not entitled to a space program. You’re not entitled to the million and one other things you take for granted every single goddamned day just because you benefit from an accident of birth.
You know what else you’re not entitled to?
You’re not entitled to pretend like it’s not your problem. You’re not entitled to act like poverty isn’t your problem. You’re not entitled to pretend that inequality doesn’t exist or that everybody gets a fair shake just because you don’t want to face reality. You’re not entitled to go around demanding that everybody else live up to your version of the Old Testament while you avert your eyes and completely and totally ignore your prophet’s very, very, very specific command to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and heal the sick. You’re not entitled to act like racism is dead in America just because you don’t actually call ethnic minorities racial slurs to their faces. You’re not entitled to act like forty million Americans don’t have access to healthcare. You’re not entitled to be ignorant of the crime and the drugs and disenfranchisement. You’re not entitled to your willful ignorance and deliberate stupidity. You’re not entitled to act like a selfish asshole, but you do anyway.
I’m not entitled to your stuff?
Don’t worry about it and don’t flatter yourself.
You’re not entitled to absolve yourself of blame for the entitlement mentality you so despise.