"For our children and our childrens' children."
You hear that invocation from every politician who opens his or her mouth nowadays: about government spending (whether to add or subtract to it); deficit spending (no one wants to add to it); Social Security; Medicare and Medicaid; and government services in general, from national-parks admissions and upkeep, to food stamps.
I've always thought the invocation somewhat hypocritical, primarily because I myself don't anticipate meeting my children's children, and I certainly don't think I'll be around to see how any of them will handle the big national debt we baby boomers are going to hand them upon our deaths.
I have always thought many politicians -- from the many, many establishment Republicans who mouth the invocation, to such Democrats as Bill Ritter and even Andrew Romanoff -- were more than a little hypocritical when they use the phrase to further their own political interests. Most of them, too, know they aren't going to be around when the debt finally gets paid.
And then this morning, in the Denver Post, I saw a front-page story headlined: "A shift toward payout at 70," a McClatchy Newspapers story about a bipartisan movement among senior members of Congress to move receipt of the primary Social Security benefit up to age 70. I immediately started calculating what that might mean for me since I am now 63, and have already filed for the 63-year-old primary benefit.
But then I began reading deeper into the story. It said those old-fogey congressmen and women had no intention of boosting the filing status of people my age or theirs, but planned to start enforcing the age-hike fifteen years from now when most of them, too, will be dead.
That would, however, put my children and my childrens' children right smack in the middle of the people who would have to work longer and harder before they died to get a Social Security benefit at all.
I thought: What hypocrisy! The height of cynicism! I was outraged, and even before church! The bastards simply have no conscience.
Then, of course, I read further and absorbed some reasonable arguments for setting the full-benefit age at 70, yet none that really overcame the hurdle in my mind that the change should come immediately -- baby boomers be damned! -- out of a sense of fairness to those future generations.
After all, I had already been calculating how I would survive financially if the age were moved and I did live that long.
It would be retribution, I thought, for my having thought so little of future generations during my lifetime. And, for that matter, a just retribution for all baby boomers who cannot, as a generation, claim they have been thinking much about their children and their childrens' children -- until now.
So I say to Obama: Change now! Make good on your promise to change Washington and tell the old geezers to flip the switch on 70 now!
That's the real way to save Social Security and bring the nation more quickly out of debt. I'm willing. Give it a shot! Our children and our childrens' childrens' futures are at stake!