What Do You Deserve

I’ve been thinking a lot about just deserts and merit and a whole lot of things that revolve around awards, entitlements and the like.

What I mean by that is how much time do we spend attempting to punish those in our society who get something they don’t deserve. I participated, however briefly, in a conversation yesterday about combat awards and I made the comment that if I’d received a CAB (combat action badge) for actually engaging the enemy, I’d be pretty pissed if someone was running around with the same CAB for simply being on a base when a bomb blew up nowhere in the vicinity of risk of actual harm.

Why should I care if someone else is sporting the same award or not? Does it somehow cheapen the award I received (I don’t have a CAB, FYI). Does it really matter? I’m not sure.

Let me take it further. We spend an inordinate amount of time talking about poor people in this country and those who “don’t deserve” the benefits they receive, whether its welfare or WIC or some other public assistance. Does it really impact your life directly if someone who doesn’t deserve something gets it? Sure you can make the argument that you’re paying taxes and that’s not fair but how do we qualify someone as being deserving or not?

And what about veterans? I read a piece in Time Battleland today talking about homelessness among veterans. Does a veteran who never deployed “deserve” the same care and treatment as someone who did deploy? Or do we say thank you for serving to all veterans? What about those who did not serve with honor?

Here’s what I’m getting at: why are we all wrapped around the axel about people getting what they don’t deserve? Attempting to weed those people out usually results in a policy that hurts the people who do truly need “it” whatever “it” is.

What would happen if we stopped worrying so much about people who got what they didn’t deserve and instead focused on getting people who have earned benefits, awards, or privileges the things they do deserve? The difference is small but I’d be willing to bet the impact would be significant. Or would it? What would happen if we were really able to keep people from getting something they don’t deserve?


3 thoughts on “What Do You Deserve”

  1. I'll let you decide about the CAB. But we care for the less fortunate NOT because they deserve it but because we are the richest country in the world. As such, we should make sure everyone has enough to eat and a safe place to sleep. All children should have a good education–not only becasue this they do deserve but because having an educated woring class makes us stronger as a nation. There are people who say this is a Christian nation but deny health and ffood and shelter to others. IMHO, if we are truly a Christian nation we take care of each other. If we are a compassionate nation, we feed our children. If we are an EXCEPTIONAL nation, we must be exceptional in what we provide for all citizens. As for paying for this, the greatest addition to the federal budget is the Bush tax cuts–NOT what the right calls the Wlecfare State.

  2. This is a fantastic piece and I am seriously so happy I read it today. It gives me some perspective. Thank you.

  3. I'd rather buy a poor kid a gallon of milk than subsidize private corporations who receive tax money in spite of record profits.

    That's what I tell people who start the don't deserve rant.

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