The Most Dangerous Addiction of Them All: Entitlements

From:,  by Dennis Prager,  on Mar 21, 2017

All addictions — whether to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex or cigarettes — are very hard to escape.

There is one addiction, however, that may be more difficult than any other to escape, in part because it is not even regarded as an addiction. It is entitlements addiction, the addiction to getting something for nothing.

One indication as to the power of entitlements addiction is the fact that while great numbers of people have voluntarily given up drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc. — almost always at great pain — few give up an addiction to entitlements. For the majority of able-bodied people who get cash payments, food stamps, subsidized housing, free or subsidized health insurance, and other welfare benefits, the thought of giving up any one of those and beginning to pay for them with their own earned money is as hard as giving up alcohol is for an alcoholic.

Politicians know this, which is why it is close to impossible to ever reduce entitlements. And, of course, the left knows this, which is why the left almost always wins a debate over entitlements. Every American who is the beneficiary of an entitlement backs them, and many who are not beneficiaries of entitlements would like to be.

Aside from ideology, this is why the left constantly seeks to increase entitlements. The more people receiving government benefits, the more people vote left.

In this sense, the left in every country — in America, the Democratic Party — should literally be regarded as a drug dealer. Virtually every American given a free benefit becomes an addict who relies more and more on his dealer, which is exactly what the left seeks.

As noted at the outset, one reason entitlements addiction is so powerful is unlike other addictions, it is not regarded as an addiction. As a result, few entitlement addicts see themselves as addicted. Why, then, would any of them seek treatment? To the entitlement addict, receiving entitlements is as natural and uncontroversial as breathing air. Air is free, and so are entitlements.

Another reason entitlements addiction is unique among addictions is that very few drug, alcohol or gambling addicts believe that they are owed drugs, alcohol or their gambling debts. Entitlement addicts, on the other hand, believe that society owes them every entitlement they receive — and often more. The very word “entitlement” conveys the message that the recipient has a right to the benefits. So there is a moral component for entitlement addicts that does not exist among other addicts (except for opioid dependents, who are in pain; these patients really are owed painkillers, and society is immoral for not allowing them to receive them).

Not only do entitlement addicts believe there is moral virtue to their addiction but so do a vast number of non-addicts known as progressives. They believe that there is a moral imperative to give people more and more entitlements. This, in turn, feeds the moral self-image of those dependent on entitlements.

Yet another reason for the uniqueness of entitlements addiction is it ultimately does more damage to society than any other addiction. Other addicts can ruin their own lives and those of loved ones, and drunk drivers kill and maim people. But society as a whole can survive their addictions. That is not the case with entitlement addicts. The more people who receive and come to depend on entitlements, the sooner society will collapse economically. Society does not directly pay for drug addicts’ drugs, alcoholics’ alcohol or gamblers’ gambling debts, but it pays every penny for entitlement addicts’ addiction. In fact, the current U.S. national debt is about equal to the reported $22 trillion this country has spent on entitlement programs in the last 50 years.

When you combine the addiction and selfishness of many (certainly not all) of those who are dependent on entitlements (including middle- and upper-class Americans who receive a home mortgage deduction); the tendency for the addiction to grow from one generation to the next; the dependence of one of the two major political parties on the votes of those who receive entitlements for the party’s very existence; and the belief of tens of millions of non-addicted progressives that society is morally obligated to give more and more people more and more entitlements, it becomes very difficult to see a solution.

In the meantime, the entitlement state in every country is failing, forcing them to bring in tens of millions of migrants — many of whom share none of the countries’ values — to keep the entitlement state alive.

This addiction ultimately ruins the character of many of its recipients, the economy of all the countries in which it exists in large numbers and the value system that created the prosperity that made so many entitlements possible in the first place.

But other than American conservatives, almost no one even recognizes it as a major problem, let alone an addiction.


Mr. Prager really nails it with this piece. Entitlements are habit-forming and eventually become a full-blown addiction and woe unto anyone who tries to reduce them or take them away. This is not only a bedrock principle of the democrat left/progressives but it is their principal weapon against anyone who may be trying to reduce taxes or get entitlements “under control.” All we have to do is peruse the news to see, several times a week, various governmental representatives proposing more giveaways. Recently, we’ve seen proposals to give teachers an exemption from state taxes, proposals to provide college expenses to blacks (and only blacks), proposals to forgive all student loans, and on and on. The (drug) dealers know that they are buying votes and approval from those who benefit from their giveaways and since the dealers aren’t using their money (they’re using ours) they’ll continue to entice new addicts to their new drug benefit – what’s to stop them? 

In all honesty, I’m not sure that, barring a major transformation in the psyche of our population, we’ll ever be able to get control over entitlements – much less reduce or eliminate some. They’ve become as sure a thing as death and taxes.



Categories: Political


12 replies

  1. Would it be OK if I cross-posted this article to I’ll be sure to give you complete credit as the author. There is no fee, I’m simply trying to add m7ore content diversity for our community and I liked what you wrote. If “OK” please let me know via email.



  2. “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury.

    “From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising them the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.

    “The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence:

    “From bondage to spiritual faith;
    from spiritual faith to great courage;
    from courage to liberty;
    from liberty to abundance;
    from abundance to selfishness;
    from selfishness to apathy;
    from apathy to dependence;
    from dependency back again into bondage.”

    The Tytler Cycle.


    • That observation is so prescient and troubling at the same time. I’ve seen the cycle before and it’s hard to argue against the logic. The only question if where we currently fall … whether we’re still somewhere in the “Apathy to Dependence” segment or have slipped over the dotted line into “Dependence.” Your opinion?


  3. CW pretty much said what I was going to say. We need a way to separate the genuine entitlements, SS and Medicare, from the freebies the lefties give out to bribe their voters. Those freebies are not entitlements, they’re welfare.

    Once separated, the freebies need to be cut back and also addressed for fraud, duplication and abuse. It can’t be a cold turkey kind of intervention, but wean them off slowly so they have time to adjust to their new reality.


    • Good luck with that, Kathy. If we’re ever going to stop (or even slow) the continuing increases in welfare, it has to begin sometime. But I’ve got a serious concern about any politician taking on that difficult and suicidal chore. Trump does have the cojones to do it, but I doubt that he will.


  4. >>”…the Democratic Party — should literally be regarded as a drug dealer.”
    Amen to that.

    I have a bit of a problem with Mr. Prager’s essay because of his use of the term “entitlements” even though the freebies he lists in his post are actually welfare. I grew up – politically speaking – believing there’s a difference. When someone like Paul Ryan and probably the majority of politicians talk about “entitlements” they’re usually referring to Social Security and Medicare, or at least that’s been my understanding all these years. This recent trend of conflating these terms is a very dangerous thing.

    When a drug addict needs a fix and steals so that he can get that fix, he doesn’t necessarily do so because he believes he’s “entitled” to drugs. He simply makes a decision that he no longer cares what your rights are with respect to your own property, that his need supersedes your rights. That’s not the same thing as an entitlement, and I think that’s a more accurate description of what’s going on in this nation with the changing mentality about WELFARE. It’s not that people believe themselves to be entitled to it, it’s that they are going to take it (with the help of the Left) whether they are entitled to it or not. There is no longer the presumption of your absolute right to what belongs to you.

    SS and Medicare, on the other hand, are entitlements by definition because, unlike welfare, they are benefits that Americans actually paid into (under threat of law) and are hence entitled to. I am suspicious of this trend of conflating the two, because I suspect certain politicians (and their helpers in the media) want people to start seeing Social Security and Medicaid as a form of welfare so that they will be more agreeable to the prospect of the government reneging on its promises. Now, I happened to believe these programs should never have been created because they violate the authority and scope of the federal government as defined by the Constitution; but the only thing worse than that is to go along with these games and then let the gov’t off the hook 80 years down the road, and leave the entitled holding the (empty) bag.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I understand your point, CW, and you’re right, but in common parlance today, the two (entitlements and welfare) aren’t often applied correctly, they’re more often conflated as you note. I’d disagree a little to one point that you made – that those on welfare don’t feel that they’re entitled to it – I think that many DO believe that they’re entitled to it just because it’s the “government’s money.”

      Additionally, while the author doesn’t mention Social Security and Medicare, they’re often included when “entitlements” are talked about in a financial or budgetary discussion. I agree there too, as I’ve paid into both for all of my working life and for a bunch of those years, at the top tier of taxation. I’ve got a return coming on my “investment,” I AM entitled to that.


      • I agree that you’re entitled to the benefits from the programs that the gov’t required you to pay into, Garnet. My problem is that because of the way “entitlement” is used in his essay, it’s unclear to me whether Mr. Prager agrees with you, and that’s problematic.

        The parsing of language and altering the original meaning of words are powerful weapons that the Left uses to get around the Constitution without debate or a referendum. We assist them in that scheme when we adopt their twisted use of words, such as referring to benefits as “entitlements” based on how people feel rather than what they legitimately earned.


      • Agreed, I would have felt more comfortable had Mr. Prager been more specific in his terms. That is a pet peeve of mine and one to which you alluded – the intentional misdefining of words by the left to change their meaning to one more to their liking.

        There’s one major problem with these twisted definitions; much of our population hasn’t been educated to or felt the need to understand the original meaning of a word and, lacking that, they don’t even know that it doesn’t really mean what its current usage implies. They merely accept that it means the definition as it appears in the New Unabridged Leftist Dictionary.


  5. What I don’t understand stand in the statement is bringing in more to keep the entitlement state alive. If that is so who the hell is paying for it? Not the immigrants


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