Occupy AARP! or, Our Mothers and Fathers Are Beyond Our Command!

The chart above comes from Reason columnist and Mercatus Center economist Veronique de Rugy. It showcases what she argues is the true battleground of haves and have-nots: The young (and relatively poor) vs. the old (and relatively rich). As she writes at National Review's The Corner blog:

In 1970, spending on Social Security and Medicare was one-fifth percent of the budget (blue portion). This portion has since grown to nearly 37 percent of the budget in 2010. By 2030, half of the entire budget will be consumed by payments for senior citizens.

We've been pushing generational warfare for a while now at Reason for the simple reason that more and more money is flowing in the wrong direction, mostly via payroll taxes. For thousands of years, money flowed from the old to they young. But that's all over now, baby blue. Consider this awful news:

In 2003, Cato's Michael Tanner calculated the rate of return on Social Security benefits to folks retiring then at about 2 percent, which stinks for any retirement plan. Worse still, wrote Tanner, "future retirees will receive even lower rates of return." Which is to say, nothing or negative returns. You wouldn't stand for that in a private plan, so why should we stand for it in a forced plan? Better question: Why do we stand for a forced savings plan that systematically robs us of money when we retire? Wouldn't it better to figure out how to help poor people, whether young or old, independent of squeezing us all into a plan that is guaranteed to earn bad returns and then get goosed whenever election season kicks into high gear?

More here.

Or put in a slightly more arch formulation from 13 years ago (!):

Can anyone seriously doubt that - given [the Baby Boomers'] penchant for sucking up all the shrimp and steak in the buffet line of life - they are setting up the rest of us not merely to fork over ever more generous portions of our wages to fund their Social Security and Medicare (hey, why shouldn't face lifts and Viagra prescriptions be covered?) but to deny us any last crumb of joy that comes simply from being younger than them?... now, in a stunning, cunning gambit, they are laying the groundwork to rob us of our last remaining generational birthright: the simple, unfettered pleasure of some day dancing on their graves.

Read the whole thing. I happily support a social safety net (preferably financed by the private sector but I'm OK with the public sector taking up the slack), especially for people who cannot care for themselves. But we have taken the idea of a safety net and transmogrified it into an entitlement state that gives more and more money (and cheap drugs!) to folks who can afford to pay their own freight. That just ain't right. As de Rugy argues, the Occupy movement would be smarter to Occupy AARP than Zuccotti Park. It's not clear that Wall Street banktards high pay means the rest of us get less, but it's absolutely true that Medicare and Social Security means the young among us are getting screwed.

No, wonder so many of us, including Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dogg and The Enema Man, hate our parents and grandparents. Take it way Alan Simpson:

 

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  • ||

    I really wish this sort of thing could work in the real world. Alas, nearly everyone has a mother and father; and the desire for Social Security to be based on something other than unicorn farts and actuarial hand waves is nigh well universal.

  • ||

    Wow! Such barefaced hatred of boomers. Way to paint them all with the same brush of spoiling your fun. I can see going after the medical institutions and insurance companies but blaming the people who were forced to pay into this system?

  • ||

    I can see going after the medical institutions and insurance companies

    Why? Or do you disagree that the 800 lb gorilla in the room is somebody other than AARP.

    And, BTW, I don't especially blame the boomers, as all this was pretty much set in stone before many of them were even eligible for AARP cards, much less cashing actual government checks handcrafted from dollar bills torn from the hands of weeping orphans.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I can see going after the medical institutions and insurance companies but blaming the people who were forced to pay into this system?

    ]

    I only blame those who vote to continue to support that system. Curiously, support for that system increases in the 55 to 65 age bracket.

  • ||

    Amen to that, brother. My Dad was pretty eloquent about the injustice of our National Ponzi scheme... right up until he got his first check. Now, all I get is "it's still not right, but I'm not going to cut off my nose to spite my face."

  • Paul||

    When the dog is mistreated all his life, he won't complain when the owner finally throws him a bone in his sunset years.

  • ||

    Remember that we were promised SS was a trust fund that would always be there and wouldn't cost the taxpayers a dime.

    We didn't create or spread the lie, we lived it.

  • Sevo||

    Uh, disagreed.
    If you actually believed that by the time you were 30, well, I got a hint for you about that Santa Claus guy...

  • johnl||

    It didn't cost the taxpayers a dime. The treasury looted the "trust fund" the whole time to pay for other stupid things that Boomers wanted.

  • Apatheist||

    By this logic we can't blame anybody who votes for anything for their votes. Bullshit, if you vote to keep SS and Medicare then you are voting to keep looting the young. The fact that they didn't vote to get rid of it years go is their own faults. If they support allowing me to opt out of the system then great.

  • Sevo||

    "The fact that they didn't vote to get rid of it years go is their own faults."

    Apatheist, try to find a way to 'vote to get rid of it'. I've been looking since, oh, the mid '60s, and all those votes for Libertarian candidates? Seems they were 'wasted' votes.
    As for AARP: PHFFFT!

  • ||

    The only vote I got to abolish SS was Ron Paul in '88. Maybe my vote was wasted but I don't think so.

    If we are looting you now, then in the same token as you will be looting others in 40 years. If you want future generations to be reasonable to you then be reasonable to past generations.

    You may inherit some crap from your parents, but you'll probably inherit their bank account and property too.

  • Apatheist||

    If I do inherit it will be with their consent. My parents and grandparents support me opting out of SS. I don't have any objection to you collecting your checks but if you oppose changing SS then you are looting.

    I also doubt I'll be collecting a check in 40 years as the system will be bankrupt by then. My generation and the next are going to be the ones left holding the short stick at the bottom of the pyramid scheme.

  • Sevo||

    Apatheist|12.20.11 @ 6:32PM|#
    "If I do inherit it will be with their consent. My parents and grandparents support me opting out of SS"

    I wish I could have.

  • adam||

    Was there an option to abolish medicare or SS on the ballot sometime in the last 50 years? Because I missed that.

  • ||

    Hey it will all work out. The boomers will leave OPM to their children, and it will all trickle down.

    Eventually, like all such programs, eventually you will run out of other people's money.

  • ||

    Have you ever "not liked" someone that is actively justifying your death?

    The young are benefiting more from the current advances than the old. I don't know who is more "relatively poor/rich" since I see individuals from both groups.

    Maybe I should have been silent during the chants "you can't trust anyone over 30" when I was in my teens.

  • Apatheist||

    Even assuming government spending is a benefit to us I can already look at that graph and see that SS/Medicaid are going to pass 50%. Even by that standard the old will be benefiting more.

  • Loki||

    Two words: Soylent Green

  • Rob||

    One word: "Boomsday".

    PS @Loki - I've got you beat.

  • GroundTruth||

    AARP should be treated as the terrorist organization that it is!

  • ||

    Just say no, to old people.

  • Mr. Mark||

    I agree that the geezers need to get off the dole. (Means testing and eventual complete phase out, please.)

    However, "one-fifth percent" reads to me as "one-fifth of one percent" or 0.2%. A more accurate description would have been one-fifth portion rather than one-fifth percent.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I've gotta watch Wopner...

  • patriotgal2||

    You all need a course in history and empathy, unless you're all just antisocial ignoramuses. As a genealogist/historian, I can tell you that before Soc Security, it was up to the younger family members to take care of the elders. This meant that either the kids took turns or at least one of them shouldered the responsibility, whether it was the eldest son or the youngest daughter. Elderly, unmarried females were taken care of by brothers, uncles, married sisters, etc. People that had no children either went to the home of a relative or to the "poor house", or sometimes the local "insane asylum", if there wasn't a poor house. That was the way it worked from the beginning, until the Great Depression.

    During the Depression, people had a hard time taking care of themselves, let along elderly parents. Many people who didn't have family at all literally starved to death. The elderly and/or infirm can't take care of themselves. When one is too sick to work, unless one can get medical care to heal, one just gets worse. And when one is just plain too old, what then? Put them out with the garbage?

    Really, the lack of compassion and empathy here is astounding, as is the abundance of hubris. And I betcha most of you consider yourself Christians, too. Obviously you talk the walk but have no understanding of the path itself, let alone the journey.

  • adam||

    If I agree to take care of my parents, can I opt out? Because that would be cheaper.

  • ||

    Seems to be blaming the boomers for living???
    Theoretically it was their taxes that pays for their benefits.
    Credit thinking is the real problem!

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    You all need a course in history and empathy, unless you're all just antisocial ignoramuses.

    And you need a course in mathematics, because clearly both SS and Medicare are set to become fiscally unsustainable over the next 20 years. Combined with other entitlement programs, social welfare now takes up more than 55% of all federal spending. That which can't be paid, won't.

    And don't go claiming that they have a "right" to it, either. Flemming vs. Nestor will disabuse you of that notion pretty damn quick.

    As a genealogist/historian, I can tell you that before Soc Security, it was up to the younger family members to take care of the elders.

    And this worked out just fine before progressive ideologues spent the entire 20th century trashing the nuclear family structures that made elderly care within the family a moral responsibility, replacing it with a unaccountable bureaucratic leviathan. Amazing how you can claim to be a historian while simultaneously leaving out that little piece of history, as well as ignoring that the degradation of the "social safety net" is the inevitable conclusion of all complex bureaucratic entities.

    Really, the lack of compassion and empathy here is astounding, as is the abundance of hubris.

    It's easy to be compassionate with other people's money.

    And I betcha most of you consider yourself Christians, too. Obviously you talk the walk but have no understanding of the path itself, let alone the journey.

    Your inferiority complexes are showing.

  • ||

    "It's not clear that Wall Street banktards high pay..." Banktards??? Really? And what is the "tards" part short for here Nick?? Wow. How very un-classy and disappointing.

  • ||

    SS contributions have long been placed in General Fund, not Lock Box. Some politicians like Moynihan of NYS wished to have contributions lock boxed but were unsuccessful, thereby insuring that the present generational dilemma would occur. In addition there are too many loopholes in the present system of distribution: SS funds are dispensed to illegal seniors who have never contributed, just as their younger family members have never contributed, or legals who import their seniors as babysitters who also collect SS, etc.,etc. And lastly the Powers that Be who like nothing better than pitting one sector of the population against another to retain power. It has happened many times before. So think deeply about what is really happening here.

  • adam||

    SS contributions are actually placed in the SS trust fund, and then lent to the general fund in return for treasury bonds. not that there is a real difference, but just to be accurate about the accounting....

  • ||

    To Adam: Thank you for the information and the honesty. I was just trying to present two solutions to help out instead of reading all this inter-generational dislike. Thanks again.

  • ||

    I remember the things that patriotgal2 speaks about. I was barely out of my pram when my mom took me to the dump. I recall 2 skinny old people going thru the garbage. They were scraping the insides of banana peels with the few teeth they had remaining to get some nurishment. There were other old people there, but I only recall that couple very well. Mom said when she saw only a glass quart of milk, a loaf of bread, and a bottle of catsup in our icebox, she went to the dump so she didn't feel so sorry for herself. Then Roosevelt started SS.

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