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The Old People are coming – and they won’t stop until they take up an increasingly large portion of America’s economic resources.
In “The War Against Youth,” a new piece for Esquire, Stephen Marche makes the case that the American economy offers “unaffordable Greek-style socialism for the old, virulently purified capitalism for the young.” The War versus The Olds has a zero-sum logic:
The federal government spends $480 billion on Medicare and $68 billion on education. Prescription drugs: $62 billion. Head Start: $8 billion. Across the board, the money flows not to helping the young grow up, but helping the old die comfortably.
Marche calls this “the predictable outcome of thirty years of economic and social policy that has been rigged to serve the comfort and largesse of the old at the expense of the young.” Judging by voter turnout, you could also call this democracy.
It’s true that young people’s prospects are disturbingly bleak. But youth is cheap, while heart transplants are expensive. And as Dean Baker explains, a lot of the substance of Marche’s article is simply false.
The Boomers-as-resource-sucking-vampires argument would be a lot more persuasive if there were great evidence of the “comfort and largesse” Marche says older Americans enjoy. Americans 65 and over suffer from the longest of long-term unemployment, older Americans still owe some $36 billion in student loans and pension funds are simultaneously becoming riskier while delivering lower returns.
Which is to say, ignore the warnings of a scourge of aging Boomers stealing away the hard-earned fruits of your youthful and vigorous labor. This isn’t the Hunger Games.
And on today’s links.
…earlier this year, a Seville bullfight company, Empresa Pagés, struck an unorthodox deal with its lender, Banca Civica, soon to be part of national giant Caixabank SA. The bank agreed to lend money to cash-strapped bullfight fans to help them buy season tickets, which cost several hundred euros apiece. Empresa Pagés gets the ticket revenue upfront. The fans generally need to repay the loans, with interest, within a year.
Debbie Cassettari had outpatient foot surgery to remove a bone spur. She arrived at the surgery center at 8 a.m., left at 12:30 p.m., and the bill came to $37,000, not counting doctor fees. In recovery now from sticker shock, she’s waiting for her insurance company to do the tango with the clinic and figure out who owes what to whom.
The recession killed journalism – and saved it – Paul Smalera
The euro zone should beware the “F” word – Hugo Dixon
Politicians placing bets – David Cay Johnston
Manufacturing redux – Chrystia Freeland
The hope and beauty of an Iran stalemate – Ian Bremmer