Dennis Prager writes about how government entitlement programs and increasing dependency of the populace on them don't destroy only the economy, but also the virtue of gratitude. Excerpt:
What entitlements do, and what the transformation of entitlements into rights does, is create a citizenry that increasingly lacks the most important character trait -- gratitude. Of all the characteristics needed for both a happy and morally decent life, none surpasses gratitude. Grateful people are happier, and grateful people are more morally decent. That is why we teach our children to say "thank you." But the welfare state undoes that. One does not express thanks for a right. So, instead of "thank you," the citizen of the welfare state is taught to say, "What more can I get?"
Yet, while producing increasingly selfish people, the mantra of the left, and therefore of the universities and the media, has been for generations that capitalism and the free market, not the welfare state, produces selfish people.
All too true.
In my opinion, another thing which sheds light on the dearth in gratitude among recipients is the impersonal nature of government assistance. At a soup kitchen you may see a smiling face presenting you with the gift of food, with many other volunteers scurrying about in the background to prepare the gift. But often the monetary assistance delivered to those being helped by Uncle Sam is in the form of mass-produced debit cards and checks chunked out by 3rd party processing centers. Some of these don't even say where they are from. They don't even have an official seal or an American flag on them. It's easy to see how this tends to engender an entitlement mentality. Actions speak louder than words, even Obama's applause lines.
But speaking of Obama's words, all this legislation he brags on seems to be moving entitlements to a new level of abstraction. Forcing insurance companies to cover "kids" up to 26 years old—and these companies will merely shrug and raise premiums—is an ingenious way to hide the entitlement and thus hide the fact that it is a gift from either parental guardians or taxpayers. Is as if liberal bureaucrats are saying "Don't thank us, just re-elect us and pay more taxes. We'll keep rigging the system for you."