When we are forced to choose between our young and our seniors, it really is a sorry state of affairs.

 - 
02/03/2010

At some point in this country, people are going to rise up against senior citizens. The gray hairs won't be attacked or thrown into jail, but they will be thrown dirty looks, and the AARP will be viewed at as a detriment to the long-term health and prosperity of the United States. Unless something drastic happens, that day is coming.

In Monday's New York Times, columnist David Brooks, in an article titled "The Geezer's Crusade," cited these disturbing statistics:

-   According to Julia Isaacs of the Brookings Institution, the federal government now spends $7 on the elderly for each $1 it spends on children.

-   In 2009, for the first time in American history, every single penny of federal tax revenue went to pay for mandatory spending programs, according to Eugene Steuerle of the Urban Institute. As more money goes to pay off promises made mostly to the old, the young have less control.

-   For decades, federal spending has hovered around 20 percent of G.D.P. By 2019, it is forecast to be at 25 percent and rising. The higher tax rates implied by that spending will mean less growth and fewer opportunities. Already, pension costs in many states are squeezing education spending.

You see what Brooks is getting at, right? There's just no way that as a country we can continue to take from the young and give to the old. That's not just plain wrong--it's criminal. It's also a recipe for disaster. Does anyone really believe that if we continue to saddle our young people with this kind of growing financial debt that their future--the future of the United States--will be anything but bleak?

To fix this situation, the United States is going to have to swallow some strong medicine.

The worse part about all this is that if Washington had a spine, politicians could have taken steps long ago to head of this day off reckoning.

This backlash against our seniors is already happening. I hear people regularly say how crazy it is to spend a ton of money on old people just to keep them alive for an extra year or two. Right now these grumblings are not widespread, but I sense that this attitude is growing.

When we're forced to choose between our young and our seniors, it really is a sorry state of affairs.

— Mike Moran