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Jack Zaleski, Published June 22 2013

Zaleski: Some are more ‘entitled’ than others

It’s always the full moon, but maybe last week it also was the unsettled stormy weather that stirred up lunatics and hypocrites. Among phone calls and emails, this call took the prize:

“I’ve just about had it with you liberal media jerks and liberal government jerks. Even The Forum. You people are part of the big-government thing,” he said.

I’m not sure what you mean, I responded.

“You don’t get it?! Of course you don’t get it. You medias (cq) are the problem. You don’t tell the truth, never get it right,” he said.

Uh, huh, I said, sensing where this thing was going.

“I’m a veteran. Been around a lot. Vietnam, you know. Did my part, then went to school. I know what I’m talkin’ about.”

Great, I said. I honor your service. GI bill? For school?

He paused. “Um, yeah, GI bill. I was entitled.”

One of those government entitlement programs, I observed.

“Don’t gimme that,” he growled. “I served. Drafted, you know. Least they could do is pay my school.”

No argument, I said, but it is one of those entitlement programs from that awful government. What else is on your mind?

“Well, it don’t matter much. School didn’t get me much. I went to work, worked hard all my life,” he said. “Road crews buildin’ highways, interstates and all. Went back to the farm and did that till I retired. Good honest work, all of it was. Good honest work.”

Highways? I asked. You know who builds highways – I mean you know where the money comes from? For the interstates? It’s government. So you were in a government-funded work program, right?

“Not the same thing, not like those big-government entitlement things for all that welfare and all. Not the same at all,” he said, apparently trying to convince himself.

I don’t know, I said. Building the interstate system was one of the biggest government construction projects in the history of the world. Did you say farming, too?

“Yessir,” he said, “for more than 30 years. Just quit a couple a years ago.”

In the program? I asked.

Another pause, longer this time. “Well, uh, sure, ya gotta be.”

Direct payments, crop supports, subsidized federal crop insurance? I asked.

“I see what you’re tryin’ to do,” he said, irritation rising in his voice. “It ain’t the same thing as entitlements and big government giveaways,” he said.

Really, I said. How is it different? Looks to me like an entitlement for farmers. I have no argument with most of it, but let’s be honest about what it is.

“Not the same, not the same,” he muttered. “You don’t get it …”

You said you’re retired now? I asked.

“Yessir,” he said. “I earned it. Worked hard lotta years.”

On Social Security? Medicare?

The pause this time was painfully long. “Uh, yessir, I am. Earned it. I’m entitled.”

So it’s a couple of those government entitlement programs? I said.

“Dammit, you’re just twistin’ what I say,” he said, really peeved now. “I’m entitled. Worked hard for lotta years. Paid in and all.”

Of course you did, I said. You are entitled. After all, Social Security and Medicare are the biggest federal entitlement programs of all, right?

He hung up.

Contact Editorial Page Editor Jack Zaleski at (701) 241-2251.