Soak the Youth: Ageism in AmericaThe Simpon's Helen Lovejoy iconized the phrase, "Won't somebody think of the children?," but in an age where every -ism has a special interest group and being called any sort of list is the ultimate character assault our youth receive very little consideration on the big issues of the day.
Social Security, often presented as an investment in your future, is merely a wealth transfer from the young to old. Many youth today see the demographic writing on the wall and understand that, like all ponzi schemes, Social Security can't outrun arithmetic forever. Youth are forced to subsidize the lifestyles of the elderly which are typically far more lavish than their own with little expectation they will receive the same. It's outright ageism.
The national debt soaring toward Greek levels with no sign of stopping is the same transfer of wealth to the elderly. A government packed with old men and women vote to spend money today leaving a bill that comes due long after they've had theirs. Call it the dine and dash philosophy of government. The last one left at the table is stuck with the bill, the youth.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and more specifically the community rating is designed to subsidize the costs for the sick and elderly at the expense of the young and healthy. Shifting costs to the young and healthy combined with weak penalties and eliminating discrimination based on pre-existing conditions means many youth won't enter the market until they are sick and only as long as they are sick. This creates the dreaded death spiral leading to a market comprised of more elderly and sick individuals and fewer healthy and young individuals. Regardless it's ageist policy. It's no secret when you get older you will be less healthy. Subsidizing those who didn't plan ahead limits the youth's ability to save and plan ahead and like Social Security, even if they had proper incentives for youth to buy in (they don't), the gravy train only lasts as long as demographics support it.
Government is quick to celebrate our young men and women in the military. They are good enough to bleed and die for our country but not good enough to serve in Congress, run for President or drink a beer. This stems from a flawed ageist perspective that your years on this planet serve as some magic validation of your ideas. Seeing how poorly our country has been run by the elderly we might as well open the political realm to people of all ages. Ideas are what matter. It would be nice to have politicians with a real investment in the future, politicians who will be around to see the fortune or folly of their policy. Perhaps we'd see a more enthusiastic voice from youth if they were allowed a representative option on the ballot.
While we have champions for racial equality, women's rights and gay rights, the youth in our society lack a champion. Politicians like to talk about their concern for the children while saddling them with an ever increasing burden of debt and plundering their future. The youth need to wake up, organize and fight the ageist thieves in government before our children's futures are squandered on the selfish hedonism of our elders.
February 25th, 2013