It’s structural. And demographic. There is really nothing the president or the congress can do about it.
And that’s just as it should be. We need to recover our sense of self government, and for all the carping about “personal responsibility” there is something of a collective responsibility we ought to cultivate an awareness of, too. It’s not as easy to define or identify as “personal” responsibility, but then again we don’t seem to do the personal thing too well, either.
The linked article by Robert Samuelson, one of the consummate Washington insiders, is significant for reasons I’m sure he doesn’t grasp. He points obliquely to the demographic problem at the end. And the fact is, that after the law – this is a rule of law crisis, not an “economic” one, remember? – demography is the next most important aspect of our plight to consider.
There is an incipient generational conflict in all this. The baby boomers, now firmly in place as the older generation – have run up a fantastic pile of entitlement chits – that is, claims upon the efforts of their children, a group that is relatively meager in size because that’s what the boomers wanted when it suited them.
And their children are balking. And they should.
Now, this is also tied in with the monetary system we have, because at bottom all that system really consists of are chits where some people make claims upon the efforts of others. We’re all scrambling to be claimants rather than claimees, of course, and none so much as the baby boom generation itself.
It was easy to see this coming a generation ago. I did. In my one campaign for public office – congress – and in response to a question from an incredulous news reporter, I publicly asserted that social security was a doomed ponzi scheme and that we had better have a lot more children and then phase it out.
The idea that we should have more children caused the reporter’s jaw to drop open and an audible gasp. It was cognitive dissonance on the set.
Nevertheless, and not to toot my own horn or anything, the fact is my comment was entirely accurate, truthful, obvious and amply borne out by subsequent events.
Even my related but far more current proposals for a debt jubilee and a restoration of sound money (or at least sounder money) are no panacea and are not intended to be. A return to sanity is no guarantee of prosperity; it’s a pre-condition.
But in the end – and even if my suggestions for debt forgiveness and monetary sanity were followed – we’ll still have these spoiled, demanding, thoroughly unpleasant baby boomer geezers, re-creating their unseemly and overindulged infancy, throwing tantrums and directing their gaping maws at their own children, insisting those unsightly orifices be filled to the brim even as both their children and the next generation go wanting.
Indeed, that is bad enough all by itself. But imagine that on top of that nothing is done about the debt overhang in the first place. That generational conflict might easily become generational war. Indeed, it’s hard to see it panning out any other way.
We reap what we sow. Modernity has not been able to abolish that rather simple and obvious rule.