Jenny Beth’s Journal: Eventually, Someone Has to Pay the Tab on Entitlements
The impending crisis of Social Security and Medicare may be heading our way a lot sooner than we thought. Social Security will become insolvent by 2035 and Medicare will be depleted by 2026 under current projections. How did we get to this point?
It’s time to recognize that we’re all in this together. Sooner or later, someone is going to have to pay the tab. And from where I sit, the people who pay the tab should be the people who ate the meal – not their children, who weren’t even at the table.
For decades, Americans have been on the receiving end of what should have been taxpayer-provided benefits but were instead government-borrowing-provided benefits. That is, instead of paying for what we consumed as we consumed it, via taxes levied against those who consumed the benefits, we chose to shift the costs, by paying for current consumption with borrowed funds to be paid back by future generations.
Over the last four decades, we have received and consumed $22 trillion worth of benefits we haven’t paid for. We’ve just put it on the national credit card, to be paid by people for whom we didn’t even do the courtesy of asking permission.
Social Security and Medicare are much the same. Politicians seeking our votes made promises to deliver benefits while shielding us from the changing demographics and changing costs of the system.
When Social Security was created, to establish some kind of retirement security for American citizens over the age of 65, the average American lifespan was less than 62. In 1940, less than one percent of the American population was 65 or older, and for every beneficiary drawing benefits, there were 16 workers paying into the system.
Today, the average American lifespan is almost 79 years, almost 20 percent of our population is 65 or older, and there are only three workers paying into the system for every beneficiary drawing benefits.
We can’t keep adding to the debt that has been built up by epic proportions for the past four decades. We must eventually face the music, admit that we have an entitlement debt problem, and do something about it.