“Entitlement” is a word that gets talked about these days. The babblers have taken complete possession of it, throwing it out with the confidence of “The Rifleman” and the accuracy of old Robin Hood splitting the arrow of the Sheriff of Nottingham. It is difficult for me to think clearly about it unless I get well away from any running television set or radio. But when I do, things start falling clearly into place. I should say at this point that this piece of writing is going to get very accusatory, but it will not be a diatribe aimed at Republicans. Many Democrats are fully complicit in the fraud of which I speak and ought as well to be run out of office. This probably includes the man in the White House, with his “chained CPI” palaver though I hasten to add that I didn’t think Bush had any right to the office either.
Think of the root of the word — “title.” We have to wade through meanings 1-4 in my Webster’s, meanings having to do with titled positions, job descriptions, and parts of a book before getting to the one that applies. #5: “a claim or right”. This defines the phrase every farmer understands: “... title to the land.” Now, if we add the prefix “en-“, a prefix meaning “in,” and the suffix “–ed,” meaning “having,” we get “entitled” meaning something pretty close to “having or being in possession of a claim or right.” “Claim” is defined as “to assert one’s right to a title or accomplishment.” And that gets us up to “entitlement”: “The result or product of being entitled.” Do you see “welfare” anywhere in that definition? Because I don’t. I don’t and you don’t because it is not there.
But the six major corporations that own most if not all of the media, according to Common Cause, have a vested interest in entitlement being defined as welfare. That interest is their corporate bottom line which they want to remain unmolested by any kind of tax obligation. It is important for us to inoculate ourselves against this perversion of language, because hearing the same lies paraded out as truth over and over again has the same effect on us as standing under a dripping sewage outlet, which will cause our hair to fall out, followed by our teeth, our skin to yellow, followed soon by death. This poisonous junk is being poured into our ears by the Ken doll or the breathtakingly beautiful woman on the television “news.” Where do they get these people? And after they find the one in several thousand who is actually that beautiful, do they have to install a brain or speaking device so that they actually sound normal? How many people in our world actually look like this? This can be our first clue as to the game being played.
Let’s take Social Security. It is the cleanest entitlement case to make because the issue around Medicaid has to do with whether or not you think the government has any responsibility to care for the human casualties of the financial and economic systems the government itself keeps propping up. And Medicare is fraught with our reluctance as a society to get some control over the income of doctors, specialists especially. Social Security is straightforward. All working Americans, including all of Romney’s despised 47% of takers, have spent their lives paying in to Social Security.
It is called FICA and for those who make wages, half is deducted from the paycheck and the employer goes good for the other half. Those who farm or run their own businesses pay the entire freight, generally at tax time. We all have title to this money, which we have entrusted to the government for safekeeping.
What has the government done? Well, the government creatures in cahoots with their corporate fellow travelers on the other side of the revolving door, have substituted Social Security funds for honestly gotten tax dollars (politicians always pay a price for raising taxes) to buy such goodies as our highway system, our center cities and suburban infrastructure, our various public/private partnerships like hospitals and the bio tech industry and of course our continuous war and our world straddling military machine. When have we not been at war in the last sixty years? And now, having spent the money and knowing the working class is about tapped out, they don’t want to see their taxes to go up to replace it. They want us to just give it up.
So that is why the television cutie has “entitlement” redefined to mean “welfare.” It is easy, convenient, and it shills for wealth which s/he represents first and foremost. But this argument about Social Security is really the smaller end of the problem. Totalitarian states, such as Nazi Germany in the ’30s and the Communist regime in East Germany in the ’50s and ’60s coerced sheep like compliance from their populations by censorship, or even more effectively, by tinkering with the meaning of words. Think of George Orwell’s Animal farm, where the pigs add to the slogan to make it read “ALL ANIMALS ARE CREATED EQUAL, but some are more equal than others.” Or consider a contemporary American thinker, the late comedian George Carlin, who traced for us the change from the WWI term “Shell shock” with its visual of a human body and brain blown apart by weaponry to the kinder, gentler, easier to swallow and more modern (and pretty much useless)“Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome” which came into vogue during the Vietnam era, and is mostly used to hide the truth about the deep wounds.
The totalitarians in our midst, and they are many, are castrating our thinking by destroying our language. Words are what we think with. Every writer knows this. We are far down the road toward totalitarianism already, because before the world straddling corporations and the overgrown military and the government spooks and spies everywhere and the huge prison industry comes the destruction of meaning. The American Republic fades under the dazzling smile of the beauty giving the “news” on television.
Jim Van Der Pol farms near Kerkhoven, Minn. A collection of his columns, Conversations with the Land, was published by No Bull Press (nobullpressonline.com).
From The Progressive Populist, March 1, 2014
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