After church this evening, my family and I drove over to Burger King and had a free ice cream cone. Burger King was doing a special here in town where for 3 hours they were giving ice cream cones away to anyone who stopped in. The service was fast and friendly and they even allowed me to get mine in a dish (I can’t eat the cones right now due to a diet restriction). It was a beautiful night outside and the quick stop for a snack just made it all the more enjoyable – almost Americana-like.
As we were driving home, my girls made a joke about stopping at another Burger King and seeing if we could get more free ice cream. I said no, and we all laughed a little at the idea of stopping at every BK in town for ice cream. It then occurred to me that this was a perfect example for the type of growing mentality that seems so pervavise in this country. A mentality of seeing what we can get without really worrying about who is paying for it.
I understand the entitlement mentality that many have and from time to time in my life, have even sucumbed to the idea that somehow I was owed something by someone else. But when given time to really think about it, I always come back to the conclusion that I am ownly owed what I have worked for and/or am willing to pay for.
Take the BK free ice cream for example. In a child’s mind, who is paying for that ice cream isn’t really relevant. Parents pay for it anyways, so not something they worry about. But who paid for tonight’s freebies? Granted, it was a cone (or dish) with a little bit of ice cream – at most it probably cost them about 10 – 20 cents to get the ingredients per cone and they maybe lost about 75 cents in profit per cone. But in the one store I was in, there were at least 50 people there! That’s around $50 and they were doing this for 3 hours! So they could have lost about a few hundred dollars tonight.
Sure, my example is a little flawed. They established some goodwill so that will in turn get repeat business. In addition, they may have brought people in who spent more money than they would have normally. So they could have recovered some of their losses. But ultimately, what isn’t considered is that the store may have taken a loss out of their own pocketbook. Not a big loss, maybe, but a loss.
Maybe taking a loss from a business perspective isn’t a big deal to you. Maybe you’re thinking, “It’s not that big of a loss.” or “hey, they are a big corporation, they can handle it” or even “dude, you are way over analyzing this!”.
What concerns me is that we seem to be living in an age where many feel that they should have everything they want when they want it, it should be mostly, if not all free, and no one cares about the consequences of how these things will be paid for.
Our government seems to be stepping up to the plate to provide everything that everyone wants – supposedly free of charge. We seem to be on the precipice of a major change to a government health care system. The supposed freedom this will provide has led many to be thrilled with this, but like the ice cream example, I ask, “who pays for this?” For those who understand that this will come from our taxes and are ok with this, I ask again, “how much are you willing to pay?” Are you ok with a 5% increase in taxes? How about 10%? 30%? I don’t want to even begin to discuss the fact that this type of system has provided difficulties for other countries, I am simply trying to raise some awareness that this will not-and can never be-free.
The moment something is made “free” and people do not see the hidden costs, there will be abuse of the system. People are going to want to see what they can get away with. Sure, many people will be honest and won’t change their current habits. But there are many that look for any free product they can get their hands on and the ability to have all their medical care taken care of by the government will be a treat that will be hard for those types to resist.
Yes, free medical does work in the military, because the military is more structured and controlled. Abuse of the medical system in the military can bring harsher consequences than what could happen in the civilian world, unless our country is going to move away from a free country and more into a militiaristic one.
We seem to be in the “business” of helping businesses survive despite their own inablity to do so. Bailouts and stimuluses plans abound and I hear person after person say, “we have to do it. We can’t let the business fail.” I’ll shy away from the silliness of such an argument and how it’s funny how we determine how one business is too big but the next can fold up like a tent. But again, I ask, “how much are you willing to pay?” It seems that now we are saying that some individuals jobs – in a capitalistic country – are an entitlement, not a privilege.
Where does this stop? We tell people that they don’t have to work for their health care. We tell them their job is guaranteed. How about a house? Oh wait, in some cases, we’ve done that too. How about food? Clothing? What comes next? Are we really willing to sign over everything we have earned so that the government can tell us what we are allowed to have?
The government was never supposed to be about providing everything for us. We are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, not necessarily the guarantee of it.
The title of this article was done so for a reason. I am really no one special. I am a man entering into the middle age years of my life. I did not come from a priviliged background. My parents did not have a lot of money. We lived a fairly simple, yet very normal life. My parents worked hard to make sure we had a roof over our head, food on the table and clothes on our back. They provided for us as best they could and then as a young adult I struck out on my own.
I spent time in the Marines – which was not backbreaking, but not easy either – so I could have money for college. I then went to college – taking six years instead of four. That was because I had to work full time to pay what I still needed to come up with after being in the Marines as well as making sure I had a roof over my head, food to eat and clothes to wear.
I didn’t start my career until I was 29 years old. But I worked hard, paid off what debt I had as best I could. My family and I lived in apartment complexes and mobile homes for nearly 8 years. I did not own my first home until I was 37 years old. I am proud that I have a home and I pray every night that I am able to work hard enough to keep it and provide for my family.
I have a job that pays me well, a home that I worked hard for and a life that while it has its share of ups and downs, is a relatively good one. Now I know that there are many people who have faced more trying circumstances than I will ever have. But I truly feel that there is no circumstance that is so difficult that you can not rise above it and work hard and have exactly the same thing I have or even more. But it is not something that is deserved, it is something that is earned.
I am not special. And neither are you. This is not meant to be harsh. It is just the reality that since neither of us are special, we both have the same opportunities to pursue that happiness we want. Ignore the siren call that the government is playing right now that you deserve whatever you want and go out and earn whatever it is you want. Only then will you truly find that happiness you are pursuing.
NOTE: This was originally published by myself on my old HubPages account on 7/01/2009.