Grounds for pes­simism

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Pat Buchanan

year. This trans­lates into some 11,000 boomers be­com­ing el­i­gi­ble for Medi­care and So­cial Se­cu­rity ev­ery sin­gle day for the next 18 years.

Add in im­mi­grants in that same age cat­e­gory and the fact that baby boomers live longer than the Great­est Gen­er­a­tion or Silent Gen­er­a­tion se­niors, and you have an im­mense and un­avoid­able in­crease com­ing in ex­pen­di­tures for our largest en­ti­tle­ment pro­grams.

Ben­e­fits will have to be curbed or cut and pay­roll taxes will have to rise, es­pe­cially for Medi­care, to make good on our prom­ises to se­niors.

As for the rest of our fed­eral bud­get of nearly $4 tril­lion, we have run four con­sec­u­tive deficits of over $1 tril­lion. To bring that bud­get to bal­ance, freezes would have to be im­posed and cuts made in spend­ing for de­fense and other so­cial pro­grams.

From Cal­i­for­nia to Wis­con­sin to New York, we see the process at work at the state level. Gov­ern­ment salaries are frozen, gov­ern­ment payrolls are cut, gov­ern­ment pen­sions and pro­grams are scaled back.

Cal­i­for­nia and Illi­nois are on the precipice of de­fault. Cities like Detroit, Birm­ing­ham, Stock­ton and San Bernardino are al­ready there.

As for na­tional de­fense, how long can we af­ford to spend more than the 10 other top nations com­bined? How long can we continue to de­fend scores of nations half a world away? How many more tril­lion-dol­lar wars like Iraq and Afghanistan can we fight on bor­rowed money?

FDR had his New Deal and World War II, Ike his fed­eral high­way sys­tem, Kennedy his space pro­gram, LBJ his Great So­ci­ety, Rea­gan his mil­i­tary buildup and tax cuts, Bush his two wars and tax cuts, Obama his Oba­macare.

But there is noth­ing left in the till to do big things. One sees only deficits and debt all the way to the hori­zon.

Europe has ar­rived at where we are headed. In the south of the old con­ti­nent — Spain, Italy and Greece — the new aus­ter­ity has be­gun to im­peril the so­cial or­der. In the north, the dis­po­si­tion to be taxed to pay for other nations’ so­cial safety nets is dis­ap­pear­ing.

Black folks and His­pan­ics alone ac­count now for 30 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion — and ris­ing rapidly.

Yet these two mi­nori­ties have high school dropout rates of up to 50 per­cent in many cities, and many who do grad­u­ate have math, read­ing and sci­ence scores at seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade lev­els.

Can their con­tri­bu­tions to an ad­vanced econ­omy be as great as were those of baby boomers of the ‘60s and ‘70s, whose SAT scores were among the high­est we ever recorded?

More­over, while boomers were al­most all born into fam­i­lies where mother and fa­ther were mar­ried and liv­ing to­gether, His­pan­ics have a 53 per­cent il­le­git­i­macy rate, African-Amer­i­cans a 73 per­cent rate.

Among the white poor and work­ing class, the il­le­git­i­macy rate is now 40 per­cent — al­most twice as high as it was in black Amer­ica when Pat Moyni­han wrote his 1965 re­port on the cri­sis of the black fam­ily.

And be­tween the il­le­git­i­macy rate and the drug-use rate, dropout rate, crime rate and in­car­cer­a­tion rate, the cor­re­la­tion is ab­so­lute.

Some of us are of­ten ac­cused of al­ways “cry­ing wolf.”

But it is worth not­ing that one day the wolf came. Patrick J. Buchanan is the au­thor of “Sui­cide of a Su­per­power: Will Amer­ica Sur­vive to 2025?”

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