"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Robert Samuelson Speaks Truth to Power

The 1960s generation and the radicals that followed them in academia coined the phrase "speaking truth to power," which supposedly meant speaking hard truths that no one wanted to hear, but usually ended up meaning mouthing leftist cliches.   But Robert Samuelson of the Washington Post yesterday did some actual truth telling to the most powerful constituency in American politics, the baby-boomer generation:
[N]either political party seems interested in reducing benefits for baby boomers. Doing so, it's argued, would be "unfair" to people who had planned retirements based on existing programs. Well, yes, it would be unfair. Indeed, it's hard to imagine a worse time for cuts. Unemployment is horrendous; eroding home values and retirement accounts have depleted the elderly's wealth. Only 19 percent of present retirees are "very confident" of having enough money to live "comfortably," down from 41 percent in 2007, reports the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

But not making cuts would also be unfair to younger generations and the nation's future. We have a fairness dilemma: Having avoided these problems for decades, we must now be unfair to someone. To admit this is to demolish the moral case for leaving baby boomers alone. Baby boomers - I'm on the leading edge - and their promised benefits are the problem. If they're off-limits, the problem is being evaded.
As they say, read the whole thing.   There really is no alternative.   We have been on a drunken spending spree.   We are going to need to go cold turkey, and the cure starts with entitlements.   The path ahead will be fraught with cold sweats, delirium tremens, nausea, headaches, etc.   We can only hope that we haven't damaged our vital organs (our economy, our national security, the American national character) beyond repair.  

Sorry for the long extended metaphor, but American really is the sick man of the world right now. 

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