"Since the New Deal — and especially since the Great Society — America has chosen an accelerating transfer of wealth from young to old. Some of this was necessary and desirable. Many seniors face a period of economic struggle toward the end of life, which entitlements have effectively, compassionately eased.
But longer lives have extended this period of dependence, while health-care inflation has dramatically increased the cost of the Medicare entitlement. According to Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute
, someone who retires today will pay for less than half of the Medicare benefits he or she is likely to receive over a lifetime — a subsidy given to even the wealthiest retirees. The balance of these costs is imposed on workers or added in debt.
The problem is that there are two periods of economic dependence in life — late and early. A healthy society not only cares for its elderly but also cultivates its children. Biggs estimates that the federal government now spends $6 on seniors for every $1 it spends on children, even though the poverty rate of children is much higher.
From a historical perch a century hence, this will seem an odd, sad decision. A country that increases taxes on current workers and encumbers children with debt to maintain unreformed health entitlements is looking backward. Unless this course shifts, America will have a continually diminished capacity to invest in children and young families. It is the evidence of a generation that prefers its own future comfort to the welfare and ambitions of generations to follow. And this attitude is the mark of a tired nation."