Gene Hayward writes:
Who is more selfish---Senior Citizens who won't take reduced benefits to help young people financially, or young people who won't pay more taxes to help old people financially? Good luck with that question...
Gene's question -- and it's not just Gene's question -- creates a "front" between young and old. As though there is enough money for only one of the two groups. And, well, yeah, that is how it looks.
But if that's how it really is, it's because we've used the wrong economic policies. And by "economic policies" I don't mean just the level of government spending and taxes. That's the only part of policy that gets examined, but it's not where the problem lies.
Not long ago, we were the richest country in the world. If we're no longer on top, we're still close to the top. Therefore, there should be no reason we cannot afford both Social Security benefits and reasonable taxes all around. No reason but bad policy.
Earlier, I covered a MacroMania post that set up a similar "front" -- on the one hand, taxes sufficient to balance the federal budget while expanding stimulus spending. On the other hand, taxes sufficient to eventually balance the budget while expanding stimulus spending.
No. We should not be lining up and taking sides on ridiculous issues like the timing of the tax increases needed to balance the budget.
We should be calling for policies to reduce the private-sector debt that inhibits economic growth. But we'll never even get to the discussion of private-sector debt if we insist on focusing on trivia like "taxing now versus taxing later."