You know, articles like this make we wish that it will be my generation that decides to be the grown-ups and takes the hit with things like Social Security and the national debt and what have you. I wouldn’t mind waiting until 75 to collect a Social Security check, if it means not saddling my kids with ridiculous Social Security-related taxes; even better, I wouldn’t mind converting my Social Security benefit into something that wasn’t so obviously a pyramid scheme based on gulling the young for my advantage. Likewise, I wouldn’t mind paying a little more in taxes now to work down the national debt to reasonable levels so my kid and her kids don’t have to pay for the stupid wastefulness that’s been happening for the last several years and today, plus all the interest the debt on that stupid wastefulness will accrue.
Yes, it would suck to have to clean up other people’s messes. But from a moral and economic point of view, it would suck worse to refuse to clean it up and to leave it for the next generation. Taking responsibility for things is what makes people grown-ups, and why as far as I can see grown-ups are mighty thin on the ground in Washington. The Bush folks are excellent, even primal examples of people who are not grown-ups economically or morally, but to be clear there seems to be a bipartisan lack of grown-ups in government right about now. It’s not just the Bushies who are the problem here.
I’ll be 37 in a couple of months, and this means that my generation of folks are now beginning to enter the political sphere in a serious way. Here’s a hint for all of them: I don’t care if you’re a Democrat, a Republican or something else — I want you to be a grown-up. I want you to say to us that we have to be the grown-ups and that we need to expect something other from our government than for it to be a never-ending, cost-deferred teat for whatever it is that we want — and that we shouldn’t expect our children to pay for the things we’re not willing to pay for ourselves. That’s a politician I’m going to be inclined toward.
This is not the same thing as a Grover Norquist-esque plan to strangle the federal government in a bathtub; Norquist and those of his cheaply petulant ilk who infest Washington thinking are the least grown-up people in several generations, and we’re suffering the penalty for that fact. I think the government can do good, interesting and occasionally expensive things for the overall benefit of the nation. But this thing of pulling debt out of our ass and putting Band-Aids on programs that are structured on a series of data that have nothing to do with the current state of reality has really got to stop.
It’s not too much to hope my generation is the one who decides to actually do it, even at the risk of taking the hit ourselves. My kid’s future is worth me being a grown-up now; so is my nation’s future.