Monday, September 03, 2007

Defeating militarism: America's secret weapon

David Seaton's News Links
The idea behind the article that I am calling your attention to today is, that because of the cost of caring for the aging baby boomers, the United States will no long have enough money to rule the world and the solution is to cut the pensions and the Medicare of all these citizens who have spent their lives contributing with their work and tax money to keep the country afloat. I should make it clear that I am not in agreement with the author of this article as to the remedies for the problem that he correctly identifies. Who exactly is the country supposed to be for... if not for its own citizens? Is the military-industrial complex that has been devouring America's young for decades in Saturn-like fashion, now going to devour the aged too?

I am almost led to believe that the article is a satire similar to Jonathan Swift's "A modest proposal".
Probably Swift would have suggested boiling our senior citizens down for soup in order to feed the homeless schizophrenics and the prison population.

The problem with professor Haas's remedies is that older people are the segment of the population that abstains least in elections. They vote. So the cost of caring for an aging population will inevitably force America to cut back on its mastodontic military establishment. As long as America maintains some semblance of a democracy, (....?) its days as a hegemonic military power are limited.... And this article, while lamenting the burden of caring for the aged, does not even mention caring for America's decaying infrastructure which, if not repaired and restored soon will lead to a Minneapolis bridge a week in only a few years. Something has got to give. DS

America's golden years? - The Boston Globe (reprinted IHT)
Abstract: Although the aging crisis is less severe in the United States than in the other great powers, the challenges arising from this crisis are far from trivial. The Congressional Budget Office projects that by 2015, spending on the elderly in the United States will total almost $1.8 trillion - nearly half of the anticipated federal budget. For the United States, healthcare costs are the biggest problem presented by an aging population. America spends more than twice as much per capita in this area than any other industrialized state. By conservative estimates, absent reforms, the costs of Medicare alone will be at least $2.6 trillion in 2050 in today's dollars - roughly the size of the current U.S. federal budget. To pay for the massive fiscal costs associated with its aging population, the United States is likely to have to scale back its international policies. America will be less able in the future to dedicate significant resources to preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, financing nation-building, and engaging in humanitarian interventions. So at the same time that global aging will help prevent the rise of great power competitors, this phenomenon may jeopardize other vital U.S. international interests. To protect its international security, the United States needs to maintain its enviable demographic position. Specifically, it should reduce Social Security and Medicare payments to wealthier citizens, raise the retirement age to reflect increases in life expectancies, maintain largely open immigration policies, and, above all, restrain the rising costs of its healthcare system. A defining political question of the 21st century is whether American leaders have sufficient political will and wisdom to implement these and related policies. Failure to do so will significantly jeopardize future levels of America's global influence and safety. READ IT ALL

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