[FoRK] Is Balkanization really a problem?

Stephen D. Williams <sdw at lig.net> on Tue May 29 11:17:52 PDT 2007

I think the things you list are rights more than entitlements.

The key difference is that an entitlement generally refers to payments 
to someone, obviously coming from someone else.  It is a legal 
requirement of one person to support another.  The word was apparently 
coined in 1965 by Pres. Johnson's administration.
> Entitlement is a guarantee of access to benefits because of rights, or 
> by agreement through law <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law>. It can 
> also refer, in a more casual sense to someone's belief that they are 
> deserving of some particular reward or benefit.[1] 
> <http://writ.news.findlaw.com/hamilton/20030828.html> It is often used 
> as a negative term in popular parlance (i.e. a 'sense of 
> entitlement'). The legal term, however, carries no value judgment, it 
> simply denotes a right granted. It was issued in 1965 by Presidents 
> Johnson's administration.
> In 2007, approximately 2/3 of the United States 
> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States> Federal budget consisted 
> of entitlement payments, meaning that Congress never voted on 2/3 of 
> money it spent.
Freedom, freedom from sexism, etc. are "rights granted" but not a 
"particular reward or benefit" in the sense that is usually meant by 

Children may think they are entitled to spend hundreds of dollars at the 
mall every weekend or to have a new car at 16 despite lackluster school 
work.  An ex-wife may feel she is entitled to thousands per month even 
when she hasn't had the minor children for several years rather than 
becoming self-sufficient.  Welfare, for many people, was pure entitlement. 

I think you should use a different word for expectations of rights and 
privileges that are not entitlements.
More and more, things are becoming less entitlement and more something 
like a basic right due to "public ownership" (i.e. open source) or 
extreme commoditization.  Many things are so cheap now as to be 
practically free for any functioning member of society.

I think you may have hinted at a future where the baseline includes 
quite a bit more than it does now.  I think of this as the Star Trek 
world.  Technology, food production, energy, communication, knowledge, 
etc. are all sophisticated and accomplished enough that people can live 
essentially free from work, money, etc. without actually putting a 
burden on anyone else.  Society may still keep some semblance of "work 
or starve" to prevent social ugliness, but there's no reason that a 
baseline couldn't be set at the level that avoids burden on others and 
provides a pretty decent life.

What you don't want is to try to legislate that world before it actually 
exists.  That is socialism or communism and it doesn't work, quickly 
poisoning everyone, especially those who are bearing everyone else on 
their backs.  When the only thing with a burden is the automated farm 
and the orbiting solar array, the social ills dissipate.  It still is 
not socialism or communism.  Current capitalist society handles this 
gracefully by depricing commodities.  Open source software, in some 
cases (the Linux kernel and Apache for instance, Wikipedia, Eclipse), is 
just this kind of depriced commodity.  Expired patents are an old form 
of this, engineered into the system.


Lion Kimbro wrote:
> On 5/27/07, Ian Andrew Bell <hello at ianbell.com> wrote:
>> More concerning to me is a deep-rooted self-interest and sense of
>> entitlement, which runs right to the very fibre of the foundation of
>> the nation.  That collective and individual arrogance is more
>> difficult to contend with.
>  I don't understand;  What's the "entitlement" bug going around
>  right now?
>  As far as I know, this country was founded on a sense of entitlement.
>  """
> When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one
> people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with
> another, and to assume, among the Powers of the earth, the separate
> and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God
> entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires
> that they should declare the causes which impel them to the
> separation.
>  """
>  I'm sure somebody somewhere was saying,
>    "Entitle?  ENTITLE?  Who do these nuts think they are?  They have
>     no entitlement.  They are not FREE people.  They have to pay for
>     every scrap of respect and liberty they can muster.  People must earn
>     what they have, by right suffering;  It is a natural law."
>  It's actually true; They *did* have to struggle for that liberty, and 
> they
>  *did* pay price for it.  But it's something they wanted, and something
>  they worked for.
>  My hope is that people feel more and more entitled over time.  I think
>  basic income would be a great thing, and would consider it a mark of
>  progress if we reached it.  I'm *glad* that people feel entitled to 
> freedom
>  from racism, sexism, and so on.  I think we're entitled to the works of
>  the past authors, as well.  I think we're entitled to a justice system.
>  I think we're entitled to have a say in how the government works.  There
>  are plenty of things I believe we are entitled to, by birthright.
>  So, what is it this "entitlement" issue that's going around, and 
> what's the
>  thing that I myself would find disagreeable in it?
>  -- Lion
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