Let 'em eat cake

Today weíre talking Ďbout my generation. Yes, those oft-cited Baby Boomers, who have perverted the definition of the word "entitlement." There was a time not long ago when "Youíre gonna get whatís coming to you" meant something bad was going to happen. Maybe it still does Ė we just donít know it yet.
    Not so many years have passed since the entitlement river flowed in the opposite direction: people understood and accepted they had an obligation to their country and to their fellow citizens. The Eighties may have been dubbed the "Me Generation," but by current standards, the way we were was downright altruistic.
    We may not like to think of it as such, but selfishness has never been more in vogue. Just look around.
    Itís on the roads. People think they just have to take or make that cell phone call. So what if the driver behind you on the highway has to constantly adjust as your speed vacillates between 70 and 50 miles per hour and you decide two lanes are better than one. And the poor shnook trying to cross the street better look both ways three times.
    Music soothes the savage breast, so itís a public service to equip your vehicle with speakers the size of camp trunks. Just canít get enough of that Dr. Dre, so why not share it with the rest of the world?
    Those Goliath-sized SUVís? Sure, theyíre twice as likely to kill another driver as a regular car and they pollute the air three times as much, but you have to drive something to the anti-gun rally and ecology-awareness meeting, donít you?
    Youíre entitled to sit high up and look out over traffic, even if the only view the person behind you has is that of your license plate (possibly one of those cute ones that say "Keep Kids Safe"). It may be the vehicular equivalent of someone in front of you at the movies wearing a "Cat in the Hat" chapeau, but youíre entitled.
    And itís about time for another Persian Gulf War Ė these 50-dollar fill-ups are an outrage. Whatís the point in a federal government, if not to get you cheap gasoline prices for your Suburban?
    Itís in the schools. You deserve a smart kid. Bís and Cís, not to mention Dís, are grades to be given other children. Harvard and Princeton only have so many openings, and those schoolteachers better recognize that your offspring are entitled to one of them. The laws of statistics notwithstanding, Baby Boomers simply donít produce "average" children.
    Itís on the playing field. Not only is the fruit of your loins highly intelligent, Henry and Hannah are darn good athletes. You are well within your rights to let that Little League manager know heís an ignoramus for giving your little Sammy Sosa even one inning of pine time. And Stevie Wonder could have seen your kid was safe at second, so go ahead and tell that $15-a-game umpire what a moron he is.
    Heck, itís everywhere. Youíre entitled to be angry over lifeís inconveniences Ė those are for other people. Road rage, airline passenger rage, and the latest Ė supermarket checkout rage -- is a perfectly understandable reaction to the worldís numbskulls wasting your valuable time.
    Youíre also entitled to be peeved about other peopleís entitlements. Your kids are grown up now, so to blazes with any bonding for a new school. You have a job, so letís not even think about those tax breaks for a new employer moving into town.
    And please, havenít you heard enough about entitlements for poor people? It may very well be that the government allows you to deduct more in mortgage interest than the cost of food stamps for five families, but at least you earned your entitlement. Let Ďem eat cake.
    If youíve taken the time to read this, you might think itís not about you. Maybe youíre right.
    Youíre entitled to your opinion.

July 1, 2000