That’s the thesis of an eye-opening essay on The Federalist web site:
President Obama’s most recent budget makes it clear, the Wall Street Journal says, that while Republicans need his signature “to arrest America’s coming fiscal crackup,” they’re “unlikely to get even the back of his hand.”
Nobody, least of all the addict, likes to address an addiction. But, at some point, adults have to walk into the room and take charge. One hopes they don’t wait to do so until the addict’s self-destruction is complete. But the window of opportunity for an effective intervention on this country’s behalf is closing, rapidly. The next presidential election may be it.[…]
What is the author talking about? Dependency, and how it is breaking our country fiscally and spiritually. Right now, she points out that for every 100 people out there busting their butts to make a living, there are 59 who are living off the labors of those 100 people. The Census Bureau estimates those numbers to climb — by 2030 — to 76 dependents for every 100 working people. MORE:
A sobering new report points out yet one more factor accelerating that window’s downward fall. It considers the ratio of people who eat tax dollars while generating little to no tax revenue against the people who generate the tax revenue that pays for the others. You might think it’s a comparison of welfare cases, but it actually measures the dependency ratio with the very young and elderly on one side and people of working age on the other. Children consume public resources (primarily through school, but also a huge proportion of them receive government healthcare) without, obviously, creating any; and through Social Security and Medicare, so do retirees. And this country will presently see a boom in children at the same time it sees a boom in old people, thus sharply increasing draws on public coffers. “Multiple states are projected to have one in four or more residents who are elderly [65 years or older],” the Foundation for Excellence in Education-Friedman Foundation report says.
Sobering stuff, huh? Well, what can we do about it? The author of The Federalist piece has at least five solid proposals:
- Make Taxpayers Pay for a Lot Less.[….] The response to essentially every new idea that would add another blood draw to taxpayers already on life support should be: “We can’t afford it.” Because we can’t. We’re beyond flat broke. Government-backed preschool, daycare, college, you name it just has to be a total nonstarter even if these were justifiable reasons for a person to stick his hand in his neighbor’s wallet. If Congress wants to persist living in fantasy money-tree land, they should have their in-district residences handed back to them on silver platters and new people sent to Washington with an explicit mandate to bail like there’s no tomorrow.[…]
- . Accelerate Private-School Choice Programs
[…] School voucher programs and other incarnations (including my favorite, education savings accounts, where parents get the control the entire voucher amount and divide it among education expenses, with the option to save leftovers for college) are a crucial opportunity to reduce the government-spending squabble between old and young by providing young people better education at about half the cost. Every high-quality (meaning randomized, controlled trial) study on private-school choice finds it increases student performance, both for the students who leave a given school and for the students who remain. There is really nothing to lose, except a lot of government bloat and coercion of parents and kids.[…]
- Put Old-Age Entitlements On a Major Diet
[…] Baby Boomers need to hear the truth: Their political demands have put their children on a no-hope-of-retirement treadmill and their grandkids on a starvation diet. Nobody likes to tell Boomers the truth, because they vote, but it must be done or their selfishness will lock the next generation into serious pain.Taxpayers have been asked to simultaneously extend their payments for non-working people at the end of life while expanding subsidies to non-working people at the beginning of life.
One major reset that needs to happen, both within government and socially, is to lift the expected retirement age, at least as it concerns when tax benefits will start kicking in. Many government pensions, for example, kick in full benefits at age 55. That’s gotta stop. But even 65 is unreasonable in an era when the average person at that age will live another 20 years. As everyone knows, Social Security used to kick in a year or two before the average age of death. Now it’s 20 years before death, subsidized by younger people for whom government will hardly be able to subsidize any retirement benefits. Ridiculous. Besides, who wants to sit around on golf courses for 20 years? That bores the heck out of even my family and older friends who enjoy golf. […]
- Encourage Inter-Generational Relationships
[…] One significant way Boomers can give back to society without government mandates is to invest their time and cash dollars into the generation that’s going to support them in old age, either directly through putting mom or dad in the guest room permanently or indirectly through paying their many government-sponsored medical bills. […]Friendly assistance can make the difference between a hopeless, exhausted young family and one that can just make it through those little-kid years intact.
My parents also were prudent and generous enough to have saved money that helped me get through college without debt. Now, there’s a super way to start off life for those who can foster it: Owing nothing but love to anyone. I can’t tell you how liberating that feels. Similarly able grandparents could pitch in for private-school tuition, which has the dual benefit of allowing their family to live in a community without stretching finances beyond breaking to pay the exclusive-public-school mortgage premium and jump-starting the grandkids in life with an objectively better education that can also support a family’s religious teachings.
Friends whose parents live closer luxuriate in their ability to put the kids with grandma so the at-home spouse can pick up a part-time job, or let frazzled parents pay some needed attention to their marriages with a casual date night. Lots of my boomer-generation aunts and uncles are recent empty-nesters, and spend their newly-freed time lifting for the second and third generation after them. We really appreciate it. It can make the difference between a hopeless, exhausted young family and one that can just make it through those little-kid years intact.
Those of you who don’t have family nearby should adopt a family. Believe me, we kids who live far from blood relations would appreciate that, too. Don’t stop there, folks. Reach outside your family to build your neighborhood’s social capital. Relationships are a far better social safety net than money. The more we do for each other voluntarily, the less we will use government to force from each other. Here are 150 simple ways to do it. […]
- Restore a Content-Heavy Curriculum
[…] This one is a favorite hobby horse of mine precisely because it is so powerful yet so overlooked. A major casualty of the culture wars and its resulting relativism has been the loss to American children of a systematic, conscious hand-off of their heritage. Those of us who have been granted some of this access to our cultural history will recall that in ancient days, when “every man did what was right in his own eyes,” it meant chaos. And chaos serves no one well but bullies. The weak are the ultimate losers, and children are always weak.
As with the insistence that “multiple definitions of family” work out just fine for the kids, so insistence that kids need to learn nebulous things like “collaboration” and “critical thinking,” that they don’t need “rote memorization of dry facts” but “to learn how to learn through open-ended problems,” harms kids. You will recognize these as the mantras of every teacher or curriculum specialist ever interviewed by any reporter nowadays. Taking no position on what, exactly, kids should learn serves adults who need widespread approbation to maintain their power, but it ends up depriving children of what society owes them: A good education that prepares them to contribute. And research resoundingly demonstrates that a content-haphazard education will leave a child poorly equipped both to think and engage in his culture. As E.D. Hirsch, the apostle of these insights, writes, “Verbal skill is known to be a chief constituent of adult success and effectiveness. But verbal ability is not, as the schools wrongly assumed, simply a how-to skill. It is largely a knowledge-based skill.” […]