Perspectives

Letter | You say entitlement, I say benefit

June 1, 2014 

An entitlement is like a cheeseburger.

How so?

Although well over a half-century ago, I remember walking into a roadside diner in Delaware, straight into a raging argument. A southern-drawling customer insisted that the cheeseburger that he ordered and received contained meat, but cheeseburgers never contained meat along with the cheese.

The manager exclaimed that without the meat how could it ever be a cheeseburger?.

Lesson learned from this true story: Labels have different meanings among different folks. A cheeseburger in Dixie is a grilled cheese on a bun in Delaware.

And isn't it the same with "entitlements," benefits from government, institutions or employers? One reader insists that they fit the label only if the beneficiary didn't pay for them. Another says that they do, even if the person paid into the plan but the benefit received exceeds the contribution.

The financial and estate planning community, legislators and benefits administrators, legal and tax people, and administrators apply the label to any benefit that one simply is entitled to, totally regardless of contribution.

So, everyone's right. Whatever is served to you on a benefits bun, you're entitled to it. So, just enjoy it and call it whatever you like.

Besides, whether via labor, military service, prices for goods and services, interest on the national or state debt, taxes, or payroll contributions, indeed we do pay for all of the benefits, anyway, right?

The writer lives in Murrells Inlet.

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