Robert J. Samuelson: Government programs dangerously pit young against old

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  • Iron Rod Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 12, 2013 6:06 a.m.

    Where were all you people when our leaders occured three trillion dollars of debt to finance our preemptive war in Iraq?

    I feel some of our political leaders are more concerned with the problems in the middle east than with the problems at home.

    Example while domestic programs are being cut right and left, will the amount of foreign aid send to Israel be cut? I think not. Why?

  • Liberal Ted Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 12:36 p.m.

    The same deal with healthcare. The democrats said that their goal is to have a single payer system. When that happens, as costs climb and the number of sick grow. The ability to sustain the program (as with all government programs) decreases. Something has to give. Make the people pay higher premiums, use the death panels to end life early, pay for abortions to kill off the young, print more money, borrow more money or take back all of the guaranteed lies that were offered to pass this tax-non-tax healthcare plan.

    To make this system fair, we need to find out who voted for obama. Give them a "obummer-tax" and they can pay for their fair share and the share of those of us who didn't want the system.

    That will give me hope and it will be a great change!

  • 1covey Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 8:23 a.m.

    Our elected representatives in government "raided" the SS trust funds, because they believed their constituents would not approve of tax hikes needed to pay the budgetary costs. Did America throw them out and demand the situation be addressed? No. Now, declining birth rates aggravate the situation. And some applaud. Wonder why we're in a mess?

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Dec. 10, 2013 3:27 p.m.

    The government has "borrowed" $4.8 trillion dollars from the Social Security fund. That means that every man, woman, and child in America would have to pay about $15,000 to the government to make that fund solvent. I don't have $15,000 to pay the government. My wife does not have $15,000 to pay the government. I know very few people who could write out a check for $15,000 to pay corrupt politicians for things they did to empty the Social Security fund. "Tweaking" will not fix things. Spendthrifts have emptied that fund. It is gone. The money cannot be repaid. Americans cannot pay $15,000 each to repay Social Security and they cannot pay $45,000 each to balance the budget. There are not enough "rich guys" in the world to pay the $16,000,000,000,000 owed.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 10, 2013 2:19 p.m.

    I find it more than a little curious that the same people who assign the "Ponzi Scheme" label to Medicare & Social Security will jump up & down, lay on the floor kicking and screaming and wail in fluent Babylonian if somebody suggests we need to eliminate the tax deduction for children.

    Which way is it, people?

    If it's immoral to engage in "intergenerational subsidies", when do I get to stop subsidizing people having too many kids? It's a horrible example to set for young parents to have their kids' educations paid for by others.

    Now, if conservatives really do care about society, birthrates and educating other peoples' kids, then why all the belly-aching about health insurance and retirement programs?

    Pick your argument and stick to it!

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Dec. 10, 2013 2:17 p.m.

    Conservatives sound like Chicken Little with their cries of SS going broke. It's not. The model works and needs some tweaking to insure it's solvency for years to come. I often hear conservatives aruge for a flat tax which is a lot like social security, with one exception. It's capped at earnings slightly over 100k. By just elimanating the cap and taxing all income equally SS would be solvent for the next 100 years. We'll be hearing more about this proposal as conservativs sharpen their sabre rattling about cutting benefits.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 10, 2013 1:59 p.m.

    Mike says: “The burden put on the young to support the old was instituted by government.”

    Don’t most religions say that you should take care of your parents when the need is there?

    Mike says: “Government took away our ability to fund our own retirement.”

    A working person still has 96% of his wages and since he can invest just half of amount of the Social Security deduction to have a greater retirement, how did Government took away our ability to fund our own retirement?

    Mike says: “Government fleeced us and now turns its back on us.”

    It seems to me that the only part of our government that is turning its back on ordinary people is the conservative republicans.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 10, 2013 1:23 p.m.

    It seems obvious to some of us that the republican and conservative agenda to bring about failure to President Obama is a no-holds-barred war that in this case is pitting young against old as a way to disparage the Affordable Care Act.

    I think Generational warfare has all the validity of the War on Christmas, Benghazi, IRS, and a host of other phony conflicts. All of which on my scale of truth, honor and morality have a score of minus ninety nine. (-99).

    Many of my adult children are struggling to survive but I don’t put the blame on them, I place the blame on the conservative republican business community who successfully destroyed wages and not seeks to destroy the protection of government.

    It is not the old folks the young are blaming it’s the greed of business.

  • JMT Springville, UT
    Dec. 10, 2013 12:58 p.m.

    Class warfare pits the wealthy class against the middle and poor class. Well, our current policies pit the older American (both rich and poor) against the middle aged, young (18-40) and children, and with our massive debt, the next generation that is not even born.

    I know the Left and older Americans bristle at the claims of "Ponzi scheme" when referencing Social Security but let's look at it.

    It was sold as voluntary, it is now compulsory.
    Retirement age was set at 65, life expectancy was 61.7 years in 1935.
    It was designed to be self-funding, but that fund has long since been emptied.

    Think about that. We are going to take 6% of your income for life, and if you live to be 65 we will give you a small pension. Statistically a majority of Americans would pay their entire life into a system and die before they hit 65 when this started.

    Currently, it is funded through taxes, not "the fund." If you or I did this on the streets we would go to jail for a long time - charged with running a Ponzi Scheme. How is it not a Ponzi scheme?

    Yes, the Baby Boomers are taking my children's future! Period!

  • David Centerville, UT
    Dec. 10, 2013 12:50 p.m.

    This article demonstrates the political divide as well. Democrats have been unwilling and unable to address this financial mess. Republicans have tried to suggest adjusting entitlement program spending, but have been attacked by Democrats.

    Democrats show their true desire to be power and office. Otherwise, they would recognize the significance of this problem and address it.

    It is interesting that the states struggling with pension and budget problems mentioned in the article are led by Democrats.

    Dec. 10, 2013 10:12 a.m.

    Mike Richards says, Social Security is in peril because the government spent the money without having any plans to replace it. Corrupt politicians forced Americans to pay into that Ponzi scheme and now they are telling us that the promises that they made to us about paying us back are null and void. They lied to us. They continue to lie to us.

    Both of my parents worked for Douglas Aircraft when I was a child. As children of the Depression, they carefully saved and planned for their retirement years. When McDonell bought Douglas, they completing changed the retirement and pension plans EVEN FOR PEOPLE WHO WERE ALREADY RETIRED. When Boeing bought the Company, they did the same thing all over again. My parent spent their retirement years scrimping and saving and doing without because CORPORATE AMERICA LIED TO THEM.

    In my opinion, what the Government has been doing to SS and Medicare is immoral. However, people like you should be applauding. It is Government acting like Business.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Dec. 10, 2013 8:17 a.m.

    This is NOT about class. This is about government destroying the lives of the people that it fleeced. Detroit failed because of taxes. It was cheaper to build cars elsewhere than it was to build them in Detroit. The government failed to fully fund pension programs and now the government will destroy the hopes and dreams and lives of those who depend of the government to keep its word.

    Social Security is in peril because the government spent the money without having any plans to replace it. Corrupt politicians forced Americans to pay into that Ponzi scheme and now they are telling us that the promises that they made to us about paying us back are null and void. They lied to us. They continue to lie to us.

    Obama wants ObamaCare because it will seize another 18% of all money in the private sector. That money will be spent on everything except health-care just as Congress spent Social Security dollars on everything except Social Security.

    The burden put on the young to support the old was instituted by government. Government took away our ability to fund our own retirement. Government fleeced us and now turns its back on us.

  • high school fan Huntington, UT
    Dec. 10, 2013 5:21 a.m.

    Social security and Medicare should never have been part of the so called budget, they we're stand alone programs that were funded separately and should have been left alone. If they had been left to exist on their own, regular adjustments would gave been easier to make all along but no, the politicians had to put their greedy little hands into them and now we have the mess that we do.
    For a Presudent that was supposed to be a uniter, we sure gave a lot of division going on.

  • Unreconstructed Reb Chantilly, VA
    Dec. 10, 2013 4:27 a.m.

    It's inexplicable to me why the DN changes the titles to some of its syndicated columnists' articles, but this article appeared in yesterday's Washington Post with the title of "America's Clash of Generations is Inevitable." The DN unconvincingly attempts to reframe the piece as being about the perils of Social Security and similar government programs; I don't believe that is the direction Samuelson is taking when he draws this up as a generational conflict. He's not attacking the principles of such government programs per se, but pointing out the demographic problems created by a widening gap between the young and old.

    In either event, I disagree with Samuelson's conclusions. This isn't a generational conflict, but a class conflict. The Right extols the virtue of self-reliance and responsibility in preparation for retirement, but then does whatever it can to protect the elites' share of the pie by siphoning off the middle class's output and putting it in the hands of grossly overpaid CEOs and plutocrats. The income disparity is creating far more damage than the age disparity. 30 years after we bought into the idea of 'trickle down' economics.