Commentary: Sustainability is really not in vogue

Sunday, April 4, 2010 at 11:45pm
Jeff Hartline

There has been a lot of conversation recently about sustainability. This has become a buzzword for “hip and cool” and sensitivity to the environment and care for resources for future generations. Certainly, creating sustainable resources such as water, air, energy and farmland is commendable. One would have to be wasteful to consider other options.

But what about government fiscal sustainability? Case in point: For 60 years, policymakers in Washington, D.C. have discovered more ways to spend other people’s money than is sustainable. You see, Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, and other social programs have stressed the ability of taxpayers to support them. Many among us have been sounding this alarm for some time, but entitled voters tend to keep electing their benefactors. It is a blatant form of bribery — with politicians bribing voters.

When President Bush attempted to make some changes in the actuarial structure of Social Security, opponents accused him of hating old people, not keeping promises made to taxpayers, trying to rip the retirement out from under the elderly, etc.

This issue has now gained traction among the voters because Social Security is in the red. With tens of thousands of Baby Boomers now lining up at the receiving end every year, this program is not sustainable unless radically altered.

The same is true with Medicare. With these same Baby Boomers reaching age 65, the stress on that system will outstrip its ability to support the receivers in just a few short years. With the additional budget busting of the new Health Insurance Bill reducing Medicare payments for an expanding recipient base by $500 billion (that’s half a trillion dollars) over the next 10 years, the program will collapse in on itself. It, too, is unsustainable.

Our porous borders have created a longer line for government largesse, demand for education, incarceration (20 percent of inmates in the U.S. are illegal immigrants), housing, food stamps, WIC and Head Start, among others, and has created a stress on the system that cannot be sustained. The rich do not have enough money to pay for all this, much less some confiscatory percentage of their incomes.

Our foreseeable future is bleak indeed. Writer Mark Steyn recently remarked that those who are expecting the future earners to pay for all this must come to the realization that there is no more future left. We have already spent it! The standard of living we have built in this country will collapse under the weight of all the giveaways.

Who is to blame? Anybody who voted for a policymaker who voted for unbalanced budgets or for any of the following: Medicare and Medicaid, government programs that support irresponsible lifestyles, the Medicare Prescription Drug program, budgets loaded with earmarks, health care reform, increasing the debt ceiling, etc.

It is certainly not the fault of my children and grandchildren. And yet they and their generations will bear the brunt of this irresponsibility without ever casting a single vote for some self-serving, bribe-taking, corrupt politician who plunged future generations into debt in order to buy votes and re-election with pork projects and political payoffs to special interest groups and generous donors.

It seems ethical that the people who made this mess repair it, and soon. But the current Washington crowd has demonstrated a lack of will and ability to create a sustainable Republic. They act like toddlers, unable to accept limits, always wanting more.

The voters under the age of 30 need to rise up and tell their parents and grandparents that they do not intend to be handed the bill for America’s irresponsible spending, borrowing, and legislating.

So, encourage legislative sustainability for the Republic this November — clean out the U.S. Capitol and replace these “children” with adults who know how to make difficult decisions and move the Republic in a direction of fiscal soundness and personal accountability.

The Republic — our Republic — is sustainable only at the hands of the voters.

Jeff Hartline of Mt. Juliet is a former medical practice management consultant currently running full-time for Congress in Tennessee's 5th congressional district.

 

6 Comments on this post:

By: sidneyames on 4/5/10 at 6:56

You know, Jeff, this 63 year old has paid in to the pot since she was 18. Of course, when I was paying into the pot, I didn't know the Government liars, crooks and thieves would take out of the social security pot and re-distribute the money to other pots, like illegal immigrants or dead beats who never paid in.

So don't blame the 65 year olds for the irresponsibility of the government officials.

And your voters under 30 need to stop being so pampered. They have not worked their a$$es off YET. Most of their parents worked their fingers to the bone and then put a lot of those jerky little 30 year olds through college -- or the 30 year olds "borrowed" a ton of money that they can't pay back now. So please, stop trashing the 65 years old crowd. We paid our dues. We sent the money to the government and they misused the funds.

By: sidneyames on 4/5/10 at 6:59

Jeff said "Our porous borders have created a longer line for government largesse, demand for education, incarceration (20 percent of inmates in the U.S. are illegal immigrants), housing, food stamps, WIC and Head Start, among others, and has created a stress on the system that cannot be sustained. The rich do not have enough money to pay for all this, much less some confiscatory percentage of their incomes."

This is so true. "Porous borders" and people who NEVER PUT A DIME IN THE POT, are sucking out the funds faster than a pig in a slop trough.

I'm not rich and I'm sick of paying for those who don't work and don't contribute. How do we stop it? I'm working till I'm 67 and still have to send money to the government. How do we stop it?

By: 742180 on 4/5/10 at 8:25

Your premise is correct. Our political system, our way of doing things, our way of life IS NOT sustainable given the track we have choosen. But to suggest that because a person who becomes eligible to draw upon these programs, and does, is incorrect and an absolute short sighted and narrow point of view.

I have two children who are 30 somethings. Both are married, both attended university, both have children, both families work hard at being solid citizens. Working and paying taxes. I feel for their plight and worry about the future of my grandchildren. They are doing their part to keep America afloat, but unfortunately too few are contributing and yes, it is not sustainable.

Its those who don't work, will not work, have no intention of working AND those who feel that the rest of socitey should take care of these people that have made our model of democracy unsustainable. There is so much more I would love to say about this topic, but its all in vain. Our politicians, and especially the current regime have/are expanding entitlement programs to a point where our future is more perilious than ever. God Bless America!! We are gona need it.

By: Nash19 on 4/5/10 at 5:07

Wait until the dollar is replaced with some new world or North American currency. All the "dollars" you saved up from working will be worth squat. I can hear it now, "Okay everyone listen up. Each person will be given the same amount of money to start over with - sort of like a board game. If you waste your money and run out we have this program you can sign up for which will give you more money. Those who invest wisely and make money will be forced to pay some of the money earned back to those who wasted their portion. BRILLIANT!"

By: sidneyames on 4/6/10 at 6:21

Those who invest wisely and make money will be forced to pay some of the money earned back to those who wasted their portion. BRILLIANT!"

Nash 19 said that.

And Nash 19, I am hoping you were being sarcastic.

The gov'ment "according to Obama" is our guide, our mentor, our god, our leader, and our conscience. So the gov'ment is going to level out the playing field.

By: yogiman on 4/6/10 at 7:42

I feel sorry for you 65ers who have retired. I've hit that 79 mark and still working... and don't want to quit. Why quit when you can work? Makes you lazy.

As for our political situation, it boils down to 'buying the votes' as our congress/es is known. Aren't the lazy people going to vote for someone who will simply 'give' their benefits to them. Why work? Its easier to collect unemployed if you ain't working. Besides, you can go fishing a lot more..

There is a term limit on political offices. Its called the voting system. My thought is 'two time and you're out'. And if you don't do a good job the first time, you ain't gonna git no secundun.