I don’t know about you, but if I hear the word “economy” one more time, I may scream. As is true of many Millennials, I have no mortgage or investments of which to speak, and the details of the current crisis make my head spin and my stomach hurt. But whether I understand it or not, the reality is, in the long run, this crisis may affect me (as a young person) more than most. So I asked Millennial Michael Davidson to guest blog and talk about what this issue means for our generation, and how we can all be a part of fixing it to ensure economic stability for all our futures.
Michael P. Davidson is CEO of Gen Next, an organization that shapes and drives public and action toward overcoming challenges and solving problems for the next generation in the areas of economic growth, education, and international security. Michael was also an expert panelist for the Youth Entitlement Summit, a coalition of young leaders who develop findings and principles on how to eliminate the projected shortfalls in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in ways that are fair to all generations. Who Wants to Be a Trillionaire... of debt?
By Michael P. Davidson
In 2008, I was fortunate to be a panelist at the Youth Entitlement Summit, where panelists heard testimony from a diverse set of high profile experts on budget, entitlement (health care and social security), and tax policies. All pretty esoteric stuff that actually affects every person in the most real ways. Former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker, former Director of the Congressional Budget Office Alice Rivlin, and others impressed on us and the public via C-Span the weight of what is commonly known as the entitlement crisis, but it should really be known as a generational crisis.
Reporting on the mess in which we find ourselves, Dallas Federal Reserve President David Fisher says that in order for us to achieve fiscal solvency we would have to cut all discretionary spending (think: education, security, infrastructure, etc.) by 97 percent permanently. Or to look at it another way, every high school student will have to see a tax increase every year of their life.
Obviously the issue is more than “fiscal insolvency,” something you find on a balance sheet; the issue is directly tied to prosperity and quality of life. On this course health care becomes more expensive and poor quality for all. Most people would lose needed government service. The tax burden on the next generation would make the Soviet Union blush. Government is granted an excuse to expand ever further. As President-elect Obama calls for a transformative infrastructure and stimulus plan—the boldness of which I applaud—this generational crisis will be waiting for him and us on the other end, while we pay the bills. Neither a conservative nor or a liberal will find the consequences of inaction attractive, acceptable, or even tolerable. The pain to the next generation will be unlike any generational transfer ever seen.