Equality, Entitlement, and Earning: the 3 Es. These words define the way in which we live at the moment, the current economic and political climate of our society. In fact, these very words are the main cause of concern for many of the protests and demonstrations which have made themselves known across the world. Within this article, I will discuss each of these terms and then move onto the main topic: true entitlement.

Equality – one of the most misinterpreted words in our vocabulary. To many of the ideals of the world, this word has become a fundamental tenet and heavily related to the next two words. To them, it shares the same definition of its math variant; that being the case where two or more variables are equal in value to each other. Now, that definition isn’t wrong in the math sense, as equality does mean that, but it is also that very reason why we cannot use the term when referring to humans. Equality suggests that people are the same, when we all know this to be false. This may sound trite, but all humans are unique individuals – no one is equal.

Just because the definition of equality is false doesn’t mean the concept of it is totally bad. In fact, libertarians themselves believe in equality. We approach it from a different angle than collectivists, however. Equality is not something which must be attained, as it cannot be attained. What it can be, however, is the state in which everyone who is born is born with the same rights and privileges, and it is what they do in their life which allows them to earn their entitlement.

Entitlement – a sense of worth is something which, fundamentally, must be earned. If entitlement is not earned, then is it really entitlement? It is what a person does in their life which should determine how the world thinks of them and how they feel about themselves. True entitlement can only be earned through fair work.

Earning is the concept of gaining reward for doing work or exchanging reward for another reward. This is simplified in the form of currency, in which we use to symbolize how much work we have done, therefore, our entitlement. When we earn fairly, we as individuals are gaining entitlement. The problem comes, when someone gains what I call ‘Artificial Entitlement.

Artificial entitlement is in essence, unearned entitlement. In fact, by definition alone, unearned entitlement is not entitlement at all, so please think of artificial entitlement as something totally different – a feeling of worth without earning that worth. There are a lot of causes of this mentality, too many, in fact. The greatest cause must be, however, government reliance.

There is an ethical difference between welfare and ‘welfare’, and for the sake of convenience, let’s call the negative latter ‘public bribes’.  The former term is used to describe the concept of giving financial aid to citizens of a nation who cannot look after themselves. This is perfectly ethical as these people would die otherwise and are incapable of earning entitlement. The latter, however, is nothing more than a political ploy that has come to backfire on the instigator.

When welfare is given to those who do not need it, or are capable of earning themselves, this is called a public bribe. Public bribes are one of the more subtle but no less disgusting actions a government can undertake and are one of the sole sources of artificial entitlement. When someone can receive without working, gain without earning and leech off the system just so some politicians can receive votes, then we have a problem. Welfare is not a tool for politicians to use to gain votes, neither is it a means of people gaining entitlement without earning it.

There is another problem to this unfair acquisition of artificial entitlement, however. When someone earns entitlement properly, the work experienced gaining that entitlement allows the earner to mature. This means that they will, at least sub-consciously, know what their entitlement is worth. When someone gains artificial entitlement, they do not gain this maturity and instead tend to expect more, and even get upset when that entitlement is stripped from them. We have seen this in today’s society as the people who could, didn’t. When finally, the state decided to strip these people of their false entitlement, they were met with open aggression as the artificially entitled masses started to believe that their lack of work was actually worth something.

To summarize what I am trying to get across: people must stop expecting entitlement unless they earn it. This should be one of the most basic principles, but to repeat is: you must work to earn. This is not only fair but necessary in society. Why should others work hard so others may slack off? The answer: they shouldn’t. The sad thing is, this already happens. Throughout history, the doers have had to look after the don’ts, and that is what must end.

Nicholas Woode-Smith is co-founder of the Rational Standard and its Technical and Marketing Director. He is a student at the University of Cape Town, with majors in Politics, Philosophy and Economic History. He is the youngest council member of the Institute of Race Relations in history and the Regional Director of Southern Africa for African Students For Liberty. He also writes science fiction – prominently, the Warpmancer and Cape Zero series.