Mark Twain on the Entitlement Mentality


Mark Twain specified that his autobiography not be released until he had been dead for 100 years. He wanted to make sure that everyone he insulted in his final work would also be dead, along with close relatives. The autobiography is out now and there are plenty of the dead and buried insulted in it. But one group he insults is not only still alive—it’s growing by leaps and bounds. This group consists of people who look to nanny government for their sustenance, a group that has come to be known as the entitlement generation.

In his autobiography Twain comments that “Any man who is satisfied to be fed by another man rather than by the honest sweat of his own brow should be shot.” Twain cites numerous occasions in his life when he was taken advantage of while trying to do a good deed for another man. Twain’s well-intentioned deeds typically consisted of providing for people who claimed to be down on their luck. In variably, the person “helped” did not appreciate the help, did not pay back the money Twain loaned him, and did not change his profligate ways. This situation should sound familiar to anyone aware of what has happened to America during the Obama administration. In fact, if Mark Twain were still alive he would be aghast to learn that the phenomenon he decried has become an accepted and acceptable way of life in America.

Twain, never one to treat politicians gently, would have much to say about President Obama and so-called progressive liberals who not only condone the entitlement mentality, but promulgate it as a political strategy for gaining and retaining power. I am sure he would also have a word or two to say about Americans who think the government—that is to say the American taxpayer—owes them a living. If Mark Twain could come back from the grave he would find an America much changed from the one he knew. Twain’s was a more self-reliant America in which those who were truly down on their luck looked to charity for help, not the government, and those who could work did.

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