Mark Twain on the Entitlement Mentality
Written on Monday, July 22, 2013 by David L. Goetsch
Mark Twain specified that his autobiography not be released until he had been dead for 100 years. He wanted to make sure that everyone he insulted in his final work would also be dead, along with close relatives. The autobiography is out now and there are plenty of the dead and buried insulted in it. But one group he insults is not only still alive—it’s growing by leaps and bounds. This group consists of people who look to nanny government for their sustenance, a group that has come to be known as the entitlement generation.
In his autobiography Twain comments that “Any man who is satisfied to be fed by another man rather than by the honest sweat of his own brow should be shot.” Twain cites numerous occasions in his life when he was taken advantage of while trying to do a good deed for another man. Twain’s well-intentioned deeds typically consisted of providing for people who claimed to be down on their luck. In variably, the person “helped” did not appreciate the help, did not pay back the money Twain loaned him, and did not change his profligate ways. This situation should sound familiar to anyone aware of what has happened to America during the Obama administration. In fact, if Mark Twain were still alive he would be aghast to learn that the phenomenon he decried has become an accepted and acceptable way of life in America.
Twain, never one to treat politicians gently, would have much to say about President Obama and so-called progressive liberals who not only condone the entitlement mentality, but promulgate it as a political strategy for gaining and retaining power. I am sure he would also have a word or two to say about Americans who think the government—that is to say the American taxpayer—owes them a living. If Mark Twain could come back from the grave he would find an America much changed from the one he knew. Twain’s was a more self-reliant America in which those who were truly down on their luck looked to charity for help, not the government, and those who could work did.
Mark Twain and people of his era knew instinctively that to allow a man to live off the earnings of others was to rob that man of his dignity, ambition, and self-worth, not to mention robbing the giver of his hard-earned income. They also knew that when dealing with people you get more of what you reward. Reward sloth through government entitlements or any other means and you will get more sloth. It is really that simple. The entitlement mentality is more addictive than cocaine and it can spread faster than a virus. Allow a man to get used to being idle and he will want to be idle forever. Reward idleness with government entitlements and people will make a living from being idle.
Laziness, sloth, and idleness are concepts that even the most ignorant, uneducated, unskilled individual is born knowing how to exploit to his advantage. People who will not exert even an ounce of initiative, drive, or energy to take care of themselves will exert enormous effort, motivation, and innovation when it comes to playing the system to get the most for doing the least. These entitled individuals then sire large numbers of entitled youngsters—usually out of wedlock—who grow up with the entitlement mentality instilled at their mothers’ breasts. Mark Twain might have over stated his solution to this problem somewhat, but he at least recognized the need for a solution.