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Entitlements will be the death of this country

By Walter Geiger A dozen or so inmates at the Monroe County jail rioted last week. They were not upset about jail conditions or the lack of conjugal visits. They were upset about the food. It seems the jail contracts with the nearby Burruss State Prison to prepare meals. The truck used to deliver those meals broke down and the prisoners were forced to eat sandwiches for one – that’s right one – meal. ’We are entitled to our meals,’ was their cry as they trashed the jail. Here’s hoping the guards dealt out as much punishment as they could in quelling the fracas. If you are in jail, you are entitled to nothing save the bare essentials and a taxpayer supplied lawyer and I am beginning to wonder if it is time to severely curtail the hideously abused right to free legal counsel. For example, lawyers are arguing – thus far unsuccessfully – that Georgia should stay the execution of Roy Willard Blankenship because one of the drugs used in the three-drug lethal injection cocktail has allegedly expired. They contend Blankenship could ‘suffer needlessly’ and that he is entitled (there’s that word again) to die with dignity. We are not talking about putting down the faithful seeing eye dog of the little blind girl down the street. We are talking about a man who raped and murdered a 78-year-old woman who, according to the logic of Blankenship’s attorneys, was not entitled to die with dignity. Do these lawyers ever think of the victim? Do they have the courage to go sit down with the victim’s family and explain why their clients have more rights than a 78-year-old mother or grandmother? I don’t think so. Which brings us to Georgia’s lottery-funded HOPE scholarship program which began life as an excellent idea but morphed into yet another bloated entitlement program. More Georgians than ever are playing the lottery or, as I see it, paying a voluntary school tax. But, the HOPE program is suffering because too many people in places of authority feel every Georgian is ‘˜entitled’ to a college education. This mindset persists despite overwhelming evidence that many, if not most, students are not college material and would be better off in careers programs in high school and one of Georgia’s fine technical schools after graduation. So, HOPE is broke and will now only pay 90% of tuition, a figure that looks pretty sweet to those of us who spent years paying back college loans. Also among the proposed HOPE cuts is tuition for remedial classes. Why is a program designed to reward academic achievement paying for remedial education in the first place? It goes back to the entitlement mentality that will be the death of this country as we know it. Entitlements have made us soft. Our schools are more about self esteem than performance. There are no HOPE programs in China or Japan yet their students are eating our students’ lunch when it comes to academic achievement. Why? Students there are not coddled. They perform or they are gone. We don’t keep score in youth recreation games because everyone is ‘˜entitled’ to win and feel good about their performance on the field no matter how horrid it might have been. Now, the time has come to pay the piper. The people getting entitlements outnumber the people working to fund them. Those among the workers are taxed to the point of financial collapse. If lottery funded programs are struggling, you can bet taxpayer-funded ones are in even worse shape. Only huge deficits and the cooking of the books on a massive level keep them afloat. Cuts – drastic cuts – are in the offing. If you are among those who depend on the efforts of others to survive, you’d best make another plan. The gravy train is near the end of the line. We will all be better off without it.

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