Nice original insight on “entitlement” by Geoff Nunberg who teaches at the University of California at Berkeley.
While it seems a neutral government budgetary term, “entitlement” actually slaps a demeaning label on some people but not others who appear equally deserving of disdain.
“Like a lot of effective political language, it enables you to slip from one idea to another without ever letting on that you’ve changed the subject,” says Nunberg.
For an economist, an entitlement is an automatic expense with no test or examination. We easily apply the term to citizens who get food stamps and other social services. “But it rarely stretches to include the hedge-fund manager who makes a life model of Ayn Rand’s Howard Roark, who is the most conspicuous monster of entitlement in all of modern American literature,” explains Nunberg.
He does a thorough job of accounting for how the word has changed over time.