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The Concept Of Entitlement

By Pearl Bullivant on July 8, 2012 in Other

Photo: Earl Carter

Pearl likes to think she is at the cutting edge of trends, and I certainly jumped the gun with my ‘Age of Entitlement’ column, written a few weeks before the release of the 2012 Federal Budget. Unfortunately Australians were ‘Not happy, Jan’ with their share of the Budget, with a staggering 45% of the population asking: “What’s in it for us?”

The tabloid press had a field day publicising the woes of the affluent few who were missing out on a share of Julia’s goodies, like the 27 year-old, single, mining executive lamenting she was doing it tough on $80K because the mining sector received no budget gains to pass onto her via bonuses. Or the mum running a high-end clothing store in an exclusive suburb whinging that the ‘School Kids Bonus’ is only $1640 and her child’s private school uniform cost $1000 and she should receive more because her shop “helps the community”! Helping the social x-rays of Woollahra find the right size-one party dress, no doubt.

And, of course, the top end of the business community has been out in force claiming their share of entitlement: Myer’s CEO blamed the government for the unseasonably warm weather and the CBA’s CEO criticised the government for not providing economic stimulus, despite the bank posting a $1.7billion quarterly profit.

Why does the public swallow the ‘woes’ of the affluent and big business? When the Budget is released every year it never crosses my mind to think: “What’s in it for me?” Instead, my focus is on public infrastructure, the environment, education and social security recipients; it’s not on me, who has a frugal yet charmed life.

This month, I’m expanding on the entitlement concept, as it is more than a financial expectation. It is an attitude that threatens to overwhelm our very existence. Where does this sense of entitlement come from? This desire to feel ‘special’ via possessions and government handouts that will help us buy more possessions: the luxury car, the dream home, the designer clothing, the high end restaurant meal, the luxury holiday that we deserve?

This terrible sense of entitlement oozes into everyday life, particularly in the east where everyone is special. The spoilt brat attitude screams, “I’m entitled to: park wherever I want and block roundabouts because I’m waiting to drop my son off at school; climate control my house all year round because life’s good at 21 degrees so damn the environment; build my ‘dream home’ regardless of neighbourly consequences; buy a dog because I want one regardless of the tenancy laws.”

Recently a bewildered Neil Perry questioned the habit of ‘no shows’ for restaurant bookings at Rockpool: “Is it arrogance? Is it laziness? Certainly, it is rudeness,” he said. Yes Neil, it’s all those things, but it’s also a sense of entitlement. This attitude of ‘I’m alright (and rich), bugger you (and those on the dole)’ is being bred into the children of the east whose selfish parents provide them with all the ‘must haves’ a Bronte salary will buy. This attitude makes a mockery of the ‘Zen’ mindfulness that the Bondi bourgeois bohemians loudly extol, because there’s no mindfulness going on here, particularly amongst the yoga-addicted 4WD set.

I want to see a society that wants entitlement to free education and healthcare, reliable public transport and national parks, not a society that expects tax and interest rates cuts with which to buy a bigger house and 4WD. And to all those faux-bohemians out there: “The more wants you have, the more you suffer and blame.”

Pearl xx

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