March 18, 2013
Entitlements
Entitlements go boom? (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

We’re cooking up some intergenerational warfare in the PostScript bunker today. Our broth is the meaty stew of Robert Samuelson’s column on the need to cut entitlements. Medicare and Social Security threaten to eat up more and more of our budget, Samuelson writes, and politicians like to pretend there’s no problem, or a problem fixable with what the politician wants to do anyway. Nobody is willing to tell people over 50 that we need their Social Security for other things — which is exactly necessary, Samuelson says.

It’s a perfect segue for how much PostScript wants to make fun of Booming, a new special New York Times section for baby boomers focused on the special concerns of this historic generation that marched for civil rights and revolutionized America through their sheer numbers and forward-thinking, utopian visions. Above all, baby boomers have had the strength and resilience to still buy newspapers — like for actual money! And so they deserve special insight into probing questions such as “Why Do My Knees Hurt.” And special news outlets that seem to be designed purely to avoid the answer “Because you’re old.”

PostScript warned you about the inter-generational warfare.

ShadeStorm

This is by far more of a generation thing than strictly republican/democrat thing.

You would think, right? Samuelson poses the crisis as prioritizing the needs of the old over the needs of the young. But primarily what we found in the comments were wonk-offs. Almost everybody knows exactly how to fix the problem of the gap between what people have been promised, entitlement-wise, and what people might actually get. But nobody is able to convince anyone else they’re right. And nobody is even making fun of other generations’ music, which PostScript was really looking forward to.

hipshot agrees with Samuelson, and even offers to give up some entitlements, but doesn’t trust what the government would do with the extra funds:

I have posted many times that I would be willing to take cuts in SS and Medicare benefits. However, the problem is that the politicians, especially the Dems, would just see it as new revenue for a raft of new social engineering programs, and would not use it to bring down the deficit and foster long-term stability. So I am joining the AARP to lobby for “my fair share.”

walterhart argues that we’re only at this point because we didn’t invest enough in young people when we had the chance:

Old age support demands advance preparations. Social Security is failing because we did not invest in the rearing of an adequate workforce to support the level of beneficiaries. If we don’t invest in “human capital” we need, nevertheless, to invest in something that will produce the stream of revenue necessary to provide old age support benefits.

KennethChilders says people need more from Social Security and Medicare because wages have stagnated, so fix THAT problem:

Just as good: bring in some policies sustaining working and lower middle class incomes. They are roughly half the population and haven’t had a pay rise in years, while wealthy and corporate interests suppress their wages.

Jimb agrees. Focus on “entitlements” from jobs instead of entitlements from the government:

[We need] an America not back to work at good-paying jobs (sufficient income to provide for a family) with fringe benefits, not part-time and temp work without benefits. Getting America back to work would relieve tens of millions of Americans of horrendous financial pressures (and get most of a million homeless children into homes) and do more than any other single action to whack deficits and get the debt under control.

Calvin Ross, too, says take better care of more people and they won’t need so much help later on:

Expand SS. Expand Medicare. It will bring down health care costs. Medicare for all. It will lower health care costs now being skimmed by insurance companies. Do it now.

jakegbp resents that retirees, who paid into the system in good faith, are being de-prioritized now that they are just about to see some benefits:

Yep , we all know that retirees should JUST die, Period! But we also know when it’s your turn you will be right there with your hand sticking out waiting for that check you wish to deny everyone else!

PostScript is pretty sure the free market has already solved this problem by getting rid of retirement altogether. Just convince people that retiring is for “the elderly” and, you know, problem solved. Boom.