The Big Think

March 20, 2010

Unfunded Future

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 12:13 am

America is on an unsustainable fiscal path. If we do nothing to address this, within 25 years the U.S. government will default on its debt, with devastating consequences for the U.S. economy and society.

We are on this path because past elected officials made unsustainable benefit promises and enshrined them in law. In some cases they paid for those promises in the short run. In all cases they created programs that would grow more generous over time.

Those past elected officials enjoyed the political benefits of creating a new promise, and they shifted the burden of paying for these promises onto their successors and onto future generations of citizens.

You are their successor, and we are those future generations. The bill is coming due. The gap between future spending and taxes is the most important economic problem America faces. If we don’t fix it, we’re screwed.

You are being pushed to do a variant of what your predecessors have done. Solve a societal problem. Make a popular new promise. Ignore those who warn the promise is underfunded. Worry about the existing long-term problem later, or better yet, hand it off to the next crowd. If this legislation makes that long-term problem harder to solve by taking future options off the table, someone else can worry about that.

A sober (and serious) essay on what is wrong with the proposed health care legislation, as well as why implementing it now will cut off future options to solve bigger problems later. A seriously good article that just makes me depressed.

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