Yes, you heard me right. I deserve what you earn.
If you want to understand the real source of the nation's budget crisis, look at me.
If you profit, I get all of my dollars even before you get your first dollar. And if you operate at a loss, I bear none of the burden. I carry none of the risk. I can only win. I can't lose.
I deserve your dollars because I have participated in our nation's first ''frequent flier'' program - I have ridden this ''ball of dirt'' around the sun 65 times. Like more than 50 million other Americans, I deserve Social Security, for which you pay. I also deserve Medicare (50 million beneficiaries now, 60 million in 2020, 80 million in 2030), for which you also pay.
I am medically disabled, and therefore deserve your dollars because I had to leave the workforce. You pay for my medical disability ''insurance'' payout.
I am medically able and therefore deserve your dollars because I was accepted at the state university. I deserve to go to the state university for which you pay.
I am a single mom and therefore deserve your dollars because I am now pregnant. I deserve WIC in order to obtain food, for which you pay.
I am unemployed and therefore deserve your dollars. I deserve unemployment compensation, for which you pay.
I am poor and therefore deserve your dollars. I deserve food stamps and Medicaid, for which you pay.
I am this, and therefore I deserve that. You pay for it.
You walk down an alley and a man with a gun holds you up. He takes your money. He confiscates your private property. We call that a crime.
Walk down the same alley and you are approached by a group of men bound together as a government. They take your money, confiscate your private property. We call that a tax. When they give it to your neighbor we call that an entitlement.
Before the passage of Social Security in 1935, you got the benefits you earned, nothing more. Under Social Security, benefits are seen as deserved but are not necessarily earned. This complicates things. When you earned your own benefits, the amount could easily be calculated based on how much you worked. The more you worked, the more you earned.
Not anymore. After all, if you don't have to earn the money, how can a fair determination be made about how much you deserve? Who decides, and how? If you are like me, whatever it is determined that you deserve, you'll always think you deserve more.
Since the passage of Social Security, Congress has been deciding who gets what benefits and how much. And it is easy for a Congressman to promise benefits when the bill does not come due until many years into the future, when he will be long gone from office. Today is the day that bill comes due.
This attitude of ''I deserve what you earn'' has permeated our society. Now, instead of finding more ways to work and meet the needs of fellow consumers, many people find it easier to work the government to obtain more entitlements to meet their own needs. People are usually very grateful for charity, but they are often very frustrated with entitlements, always believing they should have received more.
The bill has now come due for these entitlements. As Congress battles over the budget, we need to remember that nobody can win if we continue down this road. It would be best if you got what you earned and I got what I earned. It would be best if we each respected and protected one another's private property. It would be best if we both donated to the charities of our choice.
That's what we really deserve.
Dolinar is a senior fellow for health care policy at The Heartland Institute.