Last week, Christian social justice activist Ron Sider declared that he is quitting AARP because it's opposing changes to Social Security and Medicare that he finds reasonable: proposals that would ask more from wealthier seniors. There are a lot of ideas out there for shoring up Medicare and Social Security, ideas that should be given serious consideration. And I agree with Sider on several points.
Politicians in Washington invariably use the term “entitlements” to refer to programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. On the face of it, it’s a neutral term: citizens are entitled to certain benefits if they fit a certain category of need, hence the benefits might reasonably be called “entitlements.” Yet the word carries ideological freight—an implication that people are lazy or self-indulgent to expect these things.