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Works and Days

Eating Our Young

January 26th, 2014 - 4:36 pm

Finally, the idea of medieval exemption masked the oppression.  Colleges were loudly progressive. Faculties sided with the Palestinians and Walmart greeters in the abstract, never the exploited part-timers in their midst. The noble poor were always distant, not the supposedly clueless lower-middle-class student who went into hock to subsidize academic rants on equalitarianism.

Little need be said about Obamacare. It is a third method of a vast redistribution scheme between the age cohorts, one that seeks to hike insurance premiums on the mostly young, healthy, and low paid or unemployed in order to subsidize the health care costs of the older, less hail, and more affluent. 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.

In short, those now in the womb to the age of thirty will have to subsidize Social Security and Medicare for benefits that they themselves will never commensurately enjoy. They are paying far more for college than did either their parents or grandparents, and receiving less sound education and more dismal job prospects — with aggregate student loan debt that may match their mortgage obligations. Finally, the youth have no choice whether they wish to become as profligate as were their parents. Like it or not, for the next generation’s natural lifespan, federal budgets will be reduced and taxes probably raised to service the enormous debt of others.

The old notion of marriage in one’s early twenties, two or three children by one’s thirties, a two-car garage in the suburbs and a mortgage paid off by retirement is already a myth from a now forgotten age. Like the citizens of Petronius’s Croton, the best bet for generations X, Y, and Z are an inheritance from those of an easier age.  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.

In California, the boomers have virtually stopped natural gas and oil production in the Monterey Shale formation. It was adults that idled hundreds of thousands of acres of irrigated farmland that in turn put thousands out of work. The youth did not cancel new water projects and put California on the edge of disaster. The rich, affluent, and mature were opposed to salvaging a billion board feet of torched timber after the recent Sierra forest fires. It was always the smug older establishment that decided that they had enough money and security not to worry whether the less fortunate others might have commensurate opportunities. To the Bay Area grandee, one spotted newt or valley rat is always worth sidetracking a few thousand youthful futures.

So, yes, there is something nauseating about the full, tenured professor indifferent to the plight of the part-timer, the Sierra Club attorney who cares nothing for the out-of-work young logger, and the pensioner with additional Social Security who assumes that the minimum-wage young fellow at Starbucks should always pay more benefits that he will never see.

Symbolic of the many gifts bestowed by the baby boomers to the present generation of youth — aside from Botox and liposuction — was the new idea of the “intern”: an unpaid helot position predicated on the notion that the young and poorer might someday win a wage from the older and richer.

How odd that President Obama, in his soon-to-be-infamous “I have a pen and phone” boast to bypass the Congress, claimed that he would act outside the Constitution to enact his agenda and help the “kids.”

In truth, no administration in recent memory has done more to harm young people. Like some strange exotic species of the animal kingdom, we Americans are now eating our own young.

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Joseph, I was in the Army and serving overseas when word arrived that the first death of an American serviceman caused by the North Vietnamese was transmitted to us. From that point on things began to escalate in 'Nam. Believe me, I followed those events closely. Later I was released from my 4 year active military obligation when the war had fully commenced. Richard Nixon was fully five years away from assuming the presidency at that point. The entire enterprise was up until that point a product of JFK and LBJ, both Democrats. I am sorry to break that news to you as well as the revelation that Nixon ended the sad tragedy.

Try to come up with something better. Tell us that Ronald Reagan was the worst president ever ..... or some similar piece of uninformed crap.

30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
The assault on the "lucky to have not been aborted", comes in stages.

1) In nursery school they learn that a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is racist.

2) in second grade they learn that kissing a girl is sexual assault

3) in fourth grade they learn that a picture of a gun is an act of violence

4) in sixth grade they learn that a poem about Jesus and the meaning of Christmas violates other students' rights

5) in 8th grade they learn that America is to blame for all the hatred in the world

6) in high school they learn that bullying is wrong and tolerance is righteous, with the exception of those conservatives and Judeo-Christian oppressors of " not color"...against whom bullying and intolerance is funny

7) by college they learn that capitalism, free market Constitutional democracy is inferior to statist collectivism and that fear of totalitarian communism is mindless paranoia.

8) as loaned out to the max borrowers they then learn that Cloward-Piven can be developed to overwhelm the system so that it can collapse it and replace it.

9) they learn that they can be either the half that struggles to keep it from collapsing by working more and paying more or by gaming the system and simply being a taker.

10) they learn finally, that the game is rigged, the news is propaganda, the borders are an intentional sieve, and the government has both hands in their pockets. And principled dissent will get you investigated by the IRS, possibly jailed and handcuffed.

And it leaves us to wonder. Who are the real revolutionaries? And who are the lambs being lead to slaughter?
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
With all those student loans that paid for Womens and Black Studies that will never fetch a job in the real world comparable to the cost of getting that degree you gotta wonder how many of those loans will be in default in the next few years. These are all but useless degrees - how many large corporations need diversity training 'experts' from womens' and black studies? Many young men are finding their way to technical colleges for educations that find real jobs in the real world. Can women and blacks be far behind? It'll leave those big colleges in a real lurch if that happens - and I think it will.

30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (125)
All Comments   (125)
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THE BIG KNOCK-OUT GAME is coming!
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I am closing in on 70. My parents joined Social Security in 1937 when it first became available to enroll. Both of my parents paid in far less than what they took out in benefits mainly because the worker to collector ratio was much higher then. I would love to have opted out of the system when I was working especially during my peak earning years but fat chance. The truth is, if Social Security had been treated as a genuine Trust Fund that could not be raided by politicians for spending
on other programs, there would have been ample monies to pay retirees. Instead the stupid term "lock box" was created by politicos who knew fully well that there was nothing but a pile of IOUs in place of the raided cash. Now we have a worker to collector ratio of about 3-1 instead of the 12-1 of 30 years ago and the long ago used funds spent
by both political parties is haunting us today.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wow you are a Pollyanna complainer !!
Jonathan Swift already wrote "A Modest Proposal."
which is the republican way.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
The commentary is accurate but could do with some distance. The writer is too close to the action, in Cali. We can do right for our kids, but with smarts, opting out of the system.
1. Plan on giving them your stuff sooner. This way the government cannot take it to pay for your last few years of life. Just do it! From parents to kids at like 70.
2. Parents need to stop competing with each other to send their kids to "the best" school. Starve the colleges!
Both my kids went to comm coll. One is now in NYU on a corporate scholarship, for tech and the other went to one of the colleges that gives free masters in education. Now a working teacher with NO student loan.
3. Quit complaining, and lead by example. All the kids related to my family are thriving, not because mom and dad are rich or connected, but because they went around the system. There is always a way.
4. Lead by example, not complaint. If the kids see you boycotting the broken system, and thriving, they'll learn from that. If they see you complaining and suffering, they'll just get bitter too.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
America used to be a country that stood up for those who couldn't stand on their own. Now, we kick them.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
The young vote for Obama. The Jews vote for Obama. The Catholics vote for Obama. Go figure. There is much to be said for getting what you deserve.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Swift-Serling economy - "A Modest Proposal" meets "To Serve Man."
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I opened this page, planning to skim or read your article and then link to it from my Facebook page. The huge "movie poster" image dominates the page when it's loaded. The graphic preaches to the choir, it's "red meat" for those who already agree, but I don't imagine it's much good for outreach to young people who are unpersuaded as yet. In any case, the image focuses blame on three men who are going to be out of office in three years, no sooner, no later. Are you really satisfied to suggest visually that your aim is to persuade viewers that things will be all right when the three amigos are out of office? I know you don't think the rest of the Democrats are all right. I don't think you're satisfied with the clapped-out leaders of the Republican Party, either. But the image, its size, and its placement make you look like a mere partisan hack, which I know that you are not. Could you at least wrap your article around the image so the unacquainted viewer will see that you have something to say? "I'm surprised I have to explain these things," as I think Joe Bob Briggs would say.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I am surprised that you are trying to find a way to trash the article without really discussing it.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
DouglasW obviously didn't read it Aleena. Lefties like him are generally not too bright. He obviously can't grasp Prof. Hanson's underlying theme here, which is that the problem is multi-layered, endemic and potentially fatal. Folks like DW are the fodder of history, the one's that sing songs of victory as they march blindly to their own doom.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment

Perceptive as always, Dr. Hanson, but I'd like to add a contrarian thought.

I am a vanguard boomer, born in that wonderful vintage year 1946. And I have noticed recently -- say the last five years or so -- that I get no interest on my savings. And I have noticed that my children pay precious little interest on their mortgages. Having a cheap mortgage is no small thing.

Now I am happy for them. My first mortgage was 8 7/8ths %. But I would trade away my Social Security pittance in a heartbeat for, say, 6% CDs again.

Fact is, ZIRP is another way of spelling theft. No interest effectively confiscates the principal over time. Some believe that ZIRP will end one day, but I'm not in that camp. The government would be overwhelmed if it had to pay market interest on its debt, and it would hasten the day of currency collapse. So they won't until they have to, and that will be some time from now.

Where I sit, a bunch of that intergenerational wealth transfer that is supposed to be raining down on me, isn't.

So not everything is negative for today's youth.


30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, ZIRP is theft, buy how long can it last? The Fed, through waffling to credulous journalists and open market operations, can affect short-term rates only until it doesn't -- not a tautology, since everyone gets to vote, and sooner or later the fed is pushing on the proverbial string. Some say we're there now. I believe QE operates only at the long end of the curve (not sure exactly where the cut-off is -- 5yrs?), but it won't last forever because it can't: the more fed/treasury gnomes add those electronic zeros, the more the currency degrades, so sooner or later bond buyers will demand to be paid to take on the risk. The problem, it is said, is that the scale of the operations and the unknown 'black swans' gathering in the global gloom mean that nobody can predict anything. Well, that's true of most things. You can make a pretty good guess though.

It won't end well, and it will end fairly soon. Next week or in three years? That's truly unknown without benefit of hindsight. But many are in denial and, in the case of clueless journalists and politicians (nearly all), afraid of career-ending punditry. As usual, the current mess affects everyone, all ages, places and backgrounds. Voters still find it easier to blame all the usual suspects. Somewhere -- you can be sure -- ignorance, stupidity and laziness will take their toll yet again.

Maybe best to go to cash, and sit and wait for a decent entry point, whenever and wherever that may be. That 6pc you want will be back and won't necessarily lead to runaway inflation. Sometimes doing nothing is best -- wish it felt better though. Damage control ain't fun.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Optimist. :)

I suspect it is worse than denial, it is the opposite of hallucination;
The mass of mankind simply cannot see catastrophe approaching.

Having money will not help; Having a job providing a necessary
product or service may help. The most secure jobs will be in the
system which replaces our current overloaded, worn-out, fragile
infrastructure, which will collapse, permanently, at the first major
shock to its system.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sure. Better be a plumber or a carpenter than a joker or a king -- we've been down that road before. In the end it comes down to timing, at least for everyone still capable of paying attention.

Having money won't help at fan-hitting time (wheelbarrows full of cash to buy a loaf of bread, and all that). Problem is when to act: got a feeling all those 'preppers' may be too much too soon, in the wrong direction, though of course you can't know for sure.
That's why sitting on cash is a possibility: it gives you time to wait and see. Maybe.

Young and old alike are in a similar boat. The public sector is insulated to a degree, nobody else -- and they've got a bad case of 'fool's gold'.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
The biggest problem facing the young is their youth - they lack the historical context to realize that what they see today has not always been, and like all generations of young folks before them, they are not terribly likely to turn to older people for guidance. Obama lied to them, and he keeps on lying to them. At some point, I lose sympathy.

The downside of entitlements is that for 30-50 years, people have had money taken from their paychecks by force for those programs. If you think "force" is hyperbolic, just try not paying FICA or Medicare taxes. Their money was taken in return for the promise of future benefits. There was no opt-out choice, there was just one-size-fits-all, so I can understand those people wanting at least some of their money back. The system has worked just as its creators envisioned it working.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment

And, though the bucks weren't big by today's standards. they amounted to more than a pittance over forty years of working life.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
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