The Big Think

January 27, 2014


Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 8:13 am

Works and Days: ”

‘It is popular now to talk of race, class, and gender oppression. But left out of this focus on supposed victim groups is the one truly targeted cohort — the young. Despite the Obama-era hype, we are not suffering new outbreaks of racism. Wendy Davis is not the poster girl for a resurgent misogyny. There is no epidemic of homophobia. Instead, if this administration’s policies are any guide, we are witnessing a pandemic of ephebiphobia — an utter disregard for young people. . . . In truth, no administration in recent memory has done more to harm young people.

The war against those under 30 — and the unborn — is multifaceted. No one believes that the present payroll deductions leveled on working youth will result in the same levels of support upon their retirements that is now extended to the retiring baby-boom generation. Instead, the probable solutions of raising the retirement age, cutting back the rate of payouts, hiking taxes on benefits, and raising payroll rates are discussed in an environment of après moi le déluge — to come into effect after the boomers are well pensioned off.

The success of Obamacare hinges on taxing a youthful cohort for a service it will rarely use in order to subsidize those better off who will use it a lot.

This administration has added so far about $8 trillion to the national debt. By the end of its two terms, the national debt will have doubled in less than eight years. After the tax hikes and sequester, we may nonchalantly talk of deficits stabilizing at over $600-800 billion, forgetting that such annual red ink will in aggregate add trillions to the soon to be $18 trillion in aggregate debt. The tab can only be serviced by continuing virtually non-existent interest rates. For the present generation of toddlers, it is likely that the debt will only continue to grow and the eventual cost of servicing will soar. Interest rates will rise, and those who ran up the tab will be retired — while those who were not responsible for the profligacy will pay if off.

We can easily caricature today’s youth — the prolonged adolescence in the garage or basement, the tattoos and piercings, the sorta, kinda going to school or part-time working that so often eats up one’s twenties and early thirties — but the fault is more so their parents’ generation who strangled and bankrupted the economy.

There was an interesting Oxford-style debate last night on NPR. The thesis of the debate was “Obamacare is beyond saving” (a surprising way to phrase it, given NPR and all). According to the statistics, at the beginning of the debate 52% of the audience disagreed with this statement while 16% agreed. So it was a natural assumption (given NPR’s typical audience) that the “disagree” portion would triumph.

However, after a full hour of honest, reasoned, impassioned and (most importantly), organized debating— with no interruptions, name calling, or tangents allowed— the audience re-voted. The result? More people had been convinced of the truth of the statement “Obamacare is beyond saving” than the reverse (the “pro” side had increased its percentage to a higher degree).

It needs to be said that, though philosophical disagreements abound about the nature and responsibilities — and proper size — for government, once the fiscal facts about the ACA are presented in a cool and logical fashion, it becomes very, very hard to say that it is not doing the current and future generation great harm. That the effects and consequences of the ACA are coming home to many in a very personal way also makes it hard to obfuscate or distract from the consequences. As the man says, who are you going to be believe, me or your lying eyes?

The same can absolutely be said about the national debt, entitlements, and a host of other giant fiscal commitments. It’s not all about knee-jerk partisan disagreements. Many of us just want to see a sustainable and sane level of spending. Even if we don’t agree with what the money is being spent on, we’d like to know that we’re not just spending today’s money, and tomorrow’s, and next century’s, on bread and circuses.

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