Having been told that with hard work and sacrifice, there was nothing they could not do, somewhere along the line, baby boomers and those who would follow approached that phrase the way gun enthusiasts look at the Second Amendment. We like the second part a whole lot better, so we'll just pretend the first part doesn't exist.
People who were told that they could do anything instead decided that they wanted to do everything. Hard choices were for suckers, and consequences were for other people. And thus, we arrived at a place where things not worked for are somehow provided, and things not earned are expected.
The concept of "you can't have you cake and eat it, too" was not only challenged; it was openly ridiculed until the mantra became, "I want my cake and your cake and I want to eat his cake." And thus have we become a society of selfishness and hypocrisy, one in which tough choices are to be avoided; sacrifices are for suckers; and "mine" is the only adjective worth knowing.
Long and hard have I railed against those who would corrupt the concept of liberty into absolute license--who believe that merely wanting to do something makes it OK to do so--and those who puff themselves up by taking a public stance against convention, only to abandon or pervert it when it presents an inconvenience. Such are the hypocrites who demonize the public-school system and choose to home school their children, but then try to have their kids compete in high school sports, as though doing so will allow their kids to only get a little bit pregnant with the godless ideas that pervade the real schools.
Having long watched the erosion of the concept of personal responsibility, I must admit I delight in any small comeuppance of the Cake Havers and Eaters, even if it is a function of relatively unintended consequences. Such will almost certainly be the case when the statewide initiative defining marriage as between one man and one woman comes to a vote in November 2006.
I am NOT discussing gay unions; I think that two adults of any combination of genders who are willing to stand up and declare a lifelong commitment to one another are to be applauded. Neither am I discussing the word "marriage" here, for it is a word that is so powerful and so emotionally charged that it might prompt many who would otherwise support the aforementioned gay unions to make their choice solely on the preservation of the meaning of the word as it now stands.
What I am discussing are those heterosexual couples who, for whatever reason, have chosen to live together outside the confines of marriage. Maybe their parents' marriages sucked, or maybe it's their own little "screw you!" to society. Hell, maybe the sex is better. I really don't care.
However, for some, it's not enough to thumb their nose at convention. Some want to spit at society and then get money back in return. These are the people who willingly, proudly, almost defiantly, live together outside of marriage, but as soon as a few bucks come into play, they want to be treated as though they were married (for this money-making instance only).
The city of Tucson and Pima County have long allowed their unmarried workers to extend health benefits to whomever happens to be their heterosexual partner at the moment. This is neo-hippie nonsense, allowing those who earn a living off society to turn around and give society the middle finger at the same time. You don't want to be married? Don't be married. But don't ask society to treat you as though you were in this one particular case, just because it'll make your wallet a little bit fatter.
Once again, this does not involve gay couples, who don't have the right under current law to become legally joined. I have absolutely no problem with my tax dollars going to pay for gay-partner benefits. But heterosexual couples have the option of getting married, and if they choose to stay outside the system, they should stay all the way out.
I have absolutely no respect for people who take a stand only until it becomes inconvenient for them to do so. My wife and I chose to get married, and when the time comes, I hope my kids make the same respective choices. But if they don't, I hope that we brought them up well enough that they realize that actions have consequences, that beliefs require hard choices and sacrifices, and that money is the worst reason for doing anything. If they understand those things, then at least I'll know I didn't raise hypocrites.