"Society," says Burke, "is indeed a contract. The state is a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born."
In the enormous inter-generational transfers implied by current fiscal policies we see a shocking and perhaps unparalleled breach of precisely that partnership.
I want to suggest that the biggest challenge facing mature democracies is how to restore the social contract between the generations.
But I recognise that the obstacles to doing so are daunting. Not the least of these is that the young find it quite hard to compute their own long-term economic interests.
It is surprisingly easy to win the support of young voters for policies that would ultimately make matters even worse for them, like maintaining defined benefit pensions for public employees.
If young Americans knew what was good for them, they would all be in the Tea Party.
Unfortunately, too many young people think like this guy: