Friedman follow-up

by Michael Smith.

Tom Friedman’s column from last week ruffled some feathers, evidently. Paul Krugman has come out to denounce warnings about Greece’s debt as fodder for “people who opposed health care reform and are itching for an excuse to dismantle Social Security.”

I’m sure Friedman will be happy to learn that he’s been useful to his allies at the Ayn Rand Institute.

Krugman assures us that we’re not like Greece because our debt is lower, relative to G.D.P., and our economic future is brighter, thanks to the stimulus and other federal policies. Why, our deficits are expected to drop dramatically over the next few years!

Yes, Paul, but dropping from a trillion-and-a-half dollars to a trillion is a bit like lowering your daily ingestion of drain cleaner. The final result is pretty much the same.

Meanwhile, the Friedman piece drew a strong response in the letters section, including one from this correspondent. The second and third letters point out that baby boomers didn’t bring the country to its present state all by themselves. I’ll go along with that, but the way forward has our names all over it. If our children and grandchildren pay for our profligacy with a permanently lower standard of living, our section in the history books will be marked with a footnote: good riddance.

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1 Comment
  1. Minnetonka says:

    Don’t trust anybody over 30!

    If the Baby Boomers do the right thing, the “Greatest Generation” will prove to be the only group that truly hit the lottery with Social Security and Medicare. Current retirees will tell you that they put in more than enough during their working lives, but they forget that a big chunk of their social security contributions were siphoned off to the disabled, and that the money in the social security trust fund earned no interest in all those years. That’s because Congress spent the money right away.

    The key facts are that

    A) nobody paid “enough” taxes in the last 45 years, because the US was spending more than it raised in taxes and therefore taking the money from Generation Y, and

    B) No other generation will get the early retirement and high level of benefits that the Greatest Generation got. Their windfall was only possible because there were lots of workers (Baby Boomers) and few retirees.

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