On The Road To ‘Death Panels’
With the first presidential debate and the only vice presidential debate behind us, it seems pretty clear that so-called social issues are not going to get much attention in this year’s presidential politics. It’s unfortunate, I think. We deceive ourselves to permit the assumption that values and behavior are not the real drivers behind our economic problems.
The fiscal crisis of our entitlement programs is the direct result of these values and behavior.
The fiscal soundness of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is rooted in the assumption that those working can fund the needs of our elderly through payroll taxes. In the case of Social Security, we’re talking about retirement income, in the case of Medicare, health costs of the aged, and Medicaid, long-term care of low-income elderly.
When these programs were founded, the approach of using payroll taxes to fund care for our elderly seemed like a viable idea. The bottom has fallen out, however, because of changes in our behavior. There are fewer and fewer workers per retiree as result of longer life spans and a shrinking work force.
In 1950, there were 16 working Americans for every retiree. Today, there are fewer than three workers per retiree. According to projections, there will be less than two by 2030.
It doesn’t take a supercomputer to realize that if we don’t reduce the retirement and health care resources available to our elderly, the burden on each working American to provide those resources increases substantially when they must be provided for each retiree by two rather than sixteen workers.
Yet the discussion about this crisis is 100 percent focused on how to cut the spending, and zero attention is spent on restoration of values that could rebuild families, produce more children and stop destroying the unborn.