Ah, my first contribution to the Conservative Reader. I hope my effort is worthy of this site. I hope I can remember my training from last night. I hope I don’t come off sounding like a fool, or worse yet, like a pompas ass, but then again, how would anyone know the difference.
In the March 17, 2008 edition of Fortune, Geoff Colvin described a situation that is rearing it’s ugly head and that no one wants to talk about. The subject was Medicare and in the opinion of many, including Alan Greenspan, this one issue will do more to negatively impact the American economy than the current credit crisis, than the war in Iraq, than $100 a barrel oil, than the trade or budget deficits. The estimate: regardless of who the next President is, Medicare Part A will go cash-flow negative, “and it’s downhill from there”. In fact, it was suggested that by 2070, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security “will consume the entire federal budget”. Yikes!
We can examine how we got there, but that’s not likely to be very helpful. We can blame FDR, LBJ, GWB, and any other initials you can think of for this mess. The issue, as I see it, is more fundamental than that. It’s a question of personal responsibility. Somewhere along the line, our populace has become conditioned to accept the notion that they aren’t responsible for anything! Retirement? Not my responsibility, that’s what Social Security and corporate pensions are for. Personal health? Why do I need to diet and exercise? Jobs moving to Mexico? Blame it on illegal immigration! (How that makes any logical sense is another subject altogether.)
Here are some simple facts. We have a fiscal budget deficit in this country that should be corrected. Social security, as we know it, must change in order to become anything other than just another income redistribution process. Either mandatory retirement ages must increase, contributions must increase (taxes), or payouts must decrease. Is it any wonder no politician wants to touch this? Now, Mr. Colvin tells us Medicare is a “$34 Trillion Problem”. Someone please explain to me how taxes are NOT going to increase!
The federal goverment is the only entity I know of that can operate in La-La Land. Every other organization must either have revenues greater than expenses, otherwise it’s insolvent. Which politician is willing to cut federal expenditures (never mind which ones) in order to keep taxation the same and balance the budget? Which politician is willing to get rid of Medicare, or Social Security and begin to retrain the masses that it’s not government’s responsiblity to take care of them? Didn’t anyone learn from the collapse of the Soviet Union?
So of the three candidates that remain standing, none of them are willing to give us the bad news. I wonder when our next President will come forth with the announcement. Or will he/she keep pretending? Or will the solution be to increase taxes on the rich, thereby stifling investment and creating yet another recession? God, give us a leader! Give us someone with the chutzpah to tell it like it is! I fogot, no one with that level of courage would ever be elected, and isn’t that the sad truth?