Kicking the Can Down the Road

Posted on April 30, 2008 by Robert Ringer


Too bad it wasn’t mandatory for every American to watch the segment 60 Minutes recently did on David Walker, Comptroller General of the United States.  Walker heads up the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, which acts on behalf of taxpayers to assure a nonpartisan, honest assessment of government operations — especially government spending.

Walker bluntly stated that the most serious threat to the U.S. is not some guy hiding in a cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan, but our own fiscal irresponsibility.  You know he’s sincere when he says he has given up on elected officials to take responsible action.  He truly believes the very survival of the U.S. is at stake if voters do not demand that their elected officials make some hard choices.

To overly simplify it, the catalyst for our fiscal predicament is the eat-drink-and-be-merry bunch affectionately referred to as “Baby Boomers.”  They were born between the end of World War II and the beginning of the Vietnam War, when the “culture of consumption” somehow became synonymous with the American dream.

Those Florida retirement communities you see advertised on television — the ones where retirees are yukking it up, playing golf, enjoying aerobics classes, and sipping midday cocktails — are where an awful lot of Baby Boomers fully intend to be in the not-too-distant future.  And when their time comes, they not only are not going to want to hear about work, they also won’t be in a mood to hear about medical bills.  All they are going to be focused on is that it’s their turn to be supported by the people at the bottom of the pyramid.

Only one problem:  The pyramid is upside down!  And it’s going to continue to get wider at the top and narrower at the bottom with each passing year.  GAO projections make it clear that just over the Horizon of Fiscal Hell, there won’t be enough wage earners to support the Arnold Palmer golf-community folks.

So, when does the sky begin to fall?  It’s already falling!  The first Baby Boomer stepped up to the Government Retirement Trough on January 1, 2008.  And, along with 78 million other Boomers right behind him in the Entitlements Line, he’ll be looking for his Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Of course, every halfway-informed individual knows that the real culprit is health-care costs.  Medicare expenses are five times greater than Social Security benefits.  So what did President Bush and Congress do to begin whittling away at this draconian problem?  They passed a prescription drug bill that added $8 trillion (that’s trillion) to what was already a $15-$20 trillion underfunding of the health-care system!  If you or I did something equivalent to this in our own little worlds, we’d be incarcerated without a trial.

Washington insiders agree that most politicians fully understand the mathematics of impending doom, but they aren’t about to admit it to their constituents.  The number-one objective of politicians is to get reelected, and they fully recognize that telling the truth would get them booted off the Washington gravy train rather quickly.  They are well aware that voters despise truth, and, in fact, have a penchant for tarring and feathering truth messengers.

Which is why both liberal and (so-called) conservative politicians just keep kicking the entitlements can down the road, hoping upon hope that the painful truth won’t come home to roost until long after they’re out of office.  Every politician you see on C-SPAN proposing a new sleight-of-hand “reform” of the Social Security and Medicare programs is lying — and he knows he’s lying.

Nearly thirty years ago, I warned readers about the inevitable collapse of the vote-driven entitlements system in this country, and proposed a simple solution to the Social Security scam.  I said then, and believe even more strongly today, that both Social Security and Medicare must be 100 percent phased out.  Better a phase-out than a monumental collapse that would not only cause a great deal of pain, but could very well bring about anarchy — which history tells us is likely to be followed by a dictatorship.

My suggestion was that benefits be slowly phased out at the rate of 2 percent per year.  Thus, people just reaching retirement age, who have been paying into and counting on Social Security throughout their working years, would receive 100 percent of their originally promised benefits; people eligible the next year would receive only 98 percent of what was promised to them; and so on.  In this way, F.D.R.’s wicked brainchild would disappear completely after fifty years, with fewer and fewer people relying on it each year along the way.

Unfortunately, humility forces me to admit that there is zero chance the powers that be will adopt a solution remotely resembling the one I’ve proposed.  On the contrary, you can count on politicians to keep kicking the can down the road.

Which is why, if you are more than twenty years away from retirement age, you’d be wise to assume that when the can rolls to a halt at your feet, there won’t be anyone around to kick it any further.  And that’s when you’ll want to have your own nest egg safely hidden away.

For me, this is going to be a slam dunk “I told you so.”

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

12 responses to “Kicking the Can Down the Road”

  1. Jose says:

    Brad, I bet that survival guide is going to be a hell of a reernefce work. When we were talking before I also suggested something that I haven’t had the balls to bring up in here. I still think its a great idea but I feel guilty not being able to devote the time to contribute properly.For the rest of you that weren’t at the bar with Brad and I that night, here goes.I was telling him that the Revo had become a reernefce source for a lot of us. Not just for mental artillery in the fight against these damned statists but also in regarding guns, finance, etc.brad and I have a dread fear of financial or EMP armageddon crashing the system and destroying the distribution chain. the question for those suffering in that horrific scenario would immediately become How do we Survive, but hen, very soon, HOW DO WE REBUILD. How indeed. How many of you could build an angine, a water pump, could build a radio from scratch? Could you build a still to fuel a generator? Could you store your food, scavange for food, or bven know what was safe to eat? Could you plant, harvest, and process grains? Would you even HAVE grains to plant? I think you get the idea. Together, with our computers having access to all the infirmation we need this all seems pretty simple. Well, imagine if you didn’t have access to the Net, or electricity, transportation, or water, etc. We’d be royally fucked. Now, anyone that HAD the information on how to rebuild would be a king and a saviour to his community. his family would survive. he, along with the few others that had specialized knowledge could slowly try and return things to at least acceptable levels. I’d like to BE one of those people, and I bet you would too.Trouble is, WHERE is all that information concentrated?I suggested we concentrate it HERE. I suggested we fire up a running reader contribution link (or something) that could slowly but surely let us assemble the basics of electricity, farming, firearms, water, engine repair, canning, etc.I was drinking, yes, but it seemed like a damned fine idea frankly. An Encyclopedia Revoista that we could all copy from, print (hard copies would be necessary in a FUBAR scenario), and add to as we thought of new stuff we didn’t know. If it sounds a bit TinFoil Hat, sorry. I actually was always one to want to know how everything works long before I got old enough and paranoid enough to understand the larger world. yeah, this idea is one of those legendary posts I started but never finished but I really didn’t want to suggest it without RD or Brads blessing. Posting it front page would have been a bit cheeky.What do you think? it it feasable or even worth pursuing?

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