Define the Line!

Define the Line!

Americans are currently reaping the benefits of government debt, but deferring payment of that debt to future Americans.  A "Conscientious Baby Boomer" might object:

The United States is now carrying eighteen trillion dollars in public debt, which represents a burden of $154,000 per taxpayer.  That is not to mention the scores of trillions in unfunded liabilities.  These figures are increasing daily, and they are forecasted to continue rising into the distant future.

We do not have plans to fix Social Security, as thankfully it can hold out until late 2016.  We do not have plans to fix Medicaid, as we are still busy implementing the Affordable Care Act's expansions.

We are, however, taking the actions that we can.  We are doing things like raising the minimum wage and forgiving student loans.  Although those measures may prevent younger Americans from finding a job or a loan of their own, they are obviously necessary if older Americans like us are to maintain our standard of living.

Our Baby Boomer generation has paid its dues.  For example, we paid our Social Security taxes every year of our working lives.  Of course, now we all know those tax dollars weren't actually put in into a trust fund, but rather paid for the Social Security payments to the generation before us.  How were we supposed to know that Social Security amounted to a Ponzi scheme; that it would fall to pieces if the American population stopped growing as fast?  We trusted in the assurances of the United States government.  Why should we have to suffer just because we were duped?  We deserve the Social Security benefits we were promised.

There is only one feasible solution that will allow the United States to fulfill its Social Security obligations to our generation, not to mention its other major obligations toward Medicare, Medicaid and defense spending.  We have no choice but to pass some of our challenges on to younger generations.  Otherwise we will face higher taxes, lower incomes, and far less comfort in our twilight years.  Fortunately, young Americans have their whole lives to find solutions to the challenges we have encountered.  We seem to share a deep faith that they can.  They must, if the United States is to endure more than another few years.

If we already know what needs to be done, then why are we dragging our feet?  Why are we taking piecemeal action toward what we know is necessary?  Isn't it time we "Define the Line"?

We are leaving young Americans to worry endlessly about whether they will be granted one of the last opportunities to experience the American dream before we are forced to raise their taxes, reduce their economic growth, and make the American dream unreachable.  We ourselves are concerned that young Americans might try to evade their obligations to us.  Now is the time to eliminate all our anxieties.

We ought to Define the Line and declare the exact birth date after which an American must have different expectations.  Americans born beyond this line will not be permitted to continue passing on America's long-established heirlooms of deficit and debt.  We need to motivate these young Americans to work harder, and strive more.  They must be encouraged to be strong net contributors to our society.  After all, it is their tax dollars that will fund the government programs we rely on, and their policies that will solve these programs' underlying problems.  We owe it to Americans of the distant future - our great-grandchildren and beyond - to make sure today's young Americans contribute more.  If we Define the Line now, it will inspire young Americans to make the sacrifices necessary to keep America great.

We obviously must expect squabbling if we propose a date decades in the past.  Those born just after this golden line will demand that it be shifted to include them, and then the line would be moved within sight of younger Americans and the cycle of squabbling would continue.  Instead, we should set a more recent date; perhaps 5 years ago.  It is unlikely that Americans 5 years and younger could muster a meaningful resistance to this proposition.  After all, there are only about 20 million of them.  Or, perhaps even simpler, we could set a date in the future.  The unborn could muster no resistance at all.  Plus, we could raise those Americans to understand hardship and sacrifice from the start, and imbue in them the special sense of duty they will need if they are to reliably support us in our later years.

This discussion might cause some Baby Boomers to feel a sense of sadness, or even shame, about what we are placing on the shoulders of our children and grandchildren.  We must understand that we have done nothing wrong.  Nowhere in the world are children entitled to be born into economic opportunity, free of hardship and debt.  Children are born into circumstances of deprivation and burden in many other proud countries every day.  Consider Britain, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Greece and even China.  The United States's circumstances are little different from theirs.  We have followed the global trends just as they did, and encountered the same unforeseeable challenges.  It is important for us to remember that our nation used to be different, and that we made the deliberate choice to cast off the absurd notion of American "exceptionalism" when we decided we wanted easier, happier lives like the rest of the world.  Just imagine where we would be now if we had continued to do things our own way!  We must not question our faith that we have made the right choices, despite the inexplicable problems that have presented themselves.

Please contact your Congressional representatives today and ask them to Define the Line.  Burdening our posterity is necessary, but surprising them is not.  It is time to be honest about our expectations.

Editor's note: This article is satirical. Inter-generational theft is wrong.