Monday, October 7, 2013

Shutdown Now; Shutdown Later

Today, all it takes to end the government shutdown in the US is a vote by Congress.  Within 15 years, it won't be so easy.

In 15 years, a vote by Congress will be largely irrelevant.  There won't be enough money to pay our bills, no matter what Congress does.

It will be at that point, that the government will inform the oldest Americans that the safety net that was promised is no longer there.  Having convinced these folks when they were younger they did not need to save and provide for their old age, the government will announce (surprise, surprise) that old folks should fend for themselves.

The politicians, who are creating this coming nightmare, will be comfortably relaxing in their wealth and old age and will blame all of this on "rich people" and "greedy Wall Streeters."

But the reality is that no level of government is setting aside the requisite resources to fund the future obligations embedded in social security, medicare, medicaid and public pension plans all over the US.  It is easy to promise things to folks in the future and to hope that unborn children will be happy to pay for all of this.  But, at the end of the day, the numbers don't add up.

One virtue of the current shutdown is that it focuses attention on the real problem -- a shutdown in 15 years that no amount of negotiating can avoid.  This doesn't worry the President and his allies because disaster is not going to occur on their watch and they are good at shifting blame.  But, for the country, the current shutdown is nothing compared to what is on the unavoidable horizon.

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