Grounds for pessimism
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?”