Monday, June 16, 2008

O’Connor and Jones: What we owe our young

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and former Ambassador James R. Jones write on entitlement programs and the young in today's Washington Post:

Our government was founded on the principle that the legitimacy of law derives from the consent of the governed. Today's youths and future generations have not been consulted in the writing of our current social contract. Yet they soon may face financial burdens that most voters would find intolerable.

As we approach this vast expansion of spending, precipitated by a combination of aging baby boomers and abnormally high health costs, it is time to consult our young. That is exactly what we hope to do through the Youth Entitlement Summit taking place today and tomorrow on Capitol Hill.

Click here for more information on the Youth Entitlement Summit.


JG said...

That's the famous "intergenerational compact" she's discussing.

She's suggesting that both generations should have some say about it?

Bruce Webb said...

This seems to be the argument du jour, indeed the resident troll at AB picked up on it the other day. It is of course just another variant of the 'Selfish Boomer' narrative that has been working under the surface since Butler and Germanis laid out their " "Leninist" Strategy" in 1983 (link in post above). The tactics have been clear all along if you know where to look: one reassure the old, scare the young, and blame the Boomers in between.

I am a little leery of letting the young into this particular discussion. More or less informal surveys by Prof. Rosser and colleagues at JMU have shown total ignorance of the actual state of Social Security financials among incoming students. I would say the belief "Social Security will not be there for me" is practically the universal opinion of people under 45, and is widely accepted as being a regrettable truth even among older workers who can expect to receive their own benefit.

Which in my view was a fully intended result and integral to any plan that proposes benefit cuts for Boomers, we are just expected to break down in guilt and hand over a portion of our benefits on the basis of "think of the children!". (The appeal to which oddly not resonating in the SCHIPS debate).