I can admit that I look back through history, both America’s and my own, with rose-colored glasses.
We call them the good old days, and we think back to our high school sweethearts and our first car. We tend to forget about the bone-crushing break-ups or the engine problems.
We yearn for the days of high school and forget about detention and trips to the principal’s office.
And why we all try to make the best of our yesteryears today, we have to face some grave realities that we live in a much different world.
A new study recently released has indicated that our cities are getting older. That’s good. With better diets and health care, we are living longer lives.
But our system was designed for a life expectancy of 65 to 70. Our health care challenges and Social Security system was built on the premise that there would always be a growing set of workers to service a shrinking number of retirees.
But that is no longer the case, and not only are the number of retirees growing, they are living longer.
My grandparents always told me not to depend on Social Security for my retirement like they did.
That was 20 years ago.
Step back from that for a moment and take a look at health care breakthroughs in that same time period.
From enhanced cancer treatments to heart surgeries, doctors continue to find better ways of extending our lives.
Of course, these procedures are not cheap, and there is a roaring debate over the argument of whether or not chemotherapy or a quadruple bypass is a God-given right for everyone.
We are not going to settle that argument here today, but the discussion of American greatness, and what that will be, needs some conversation.
The Americans who lived through the Great Depression and followed that up by winning World War II. They made sacrifices to defend their way of life, their quality of life.
But it is difficult to think about making the American sacrifice when the prescription needs filled, the bills need paid, and the doctor says another test is needed.
The reversal of fortune, however, has come by means of how these necessities will be funded.
Yesterday, a group of teenagers came through town on a mission: Stop spending their money before they make it.
These young political activists have recently started to work, and they’ve noticed some deductions on their checks, deductions to fund the federal government, state government, retirees and more.
They don’t mind doing their share, but they were concerned as to why a third of their paychecks are going to pay taxes.
And not only is the government spending the money from their paychecks, but it is also borrowing foreign money and spending that.
Who is going to pay that money back when the bills come due.
Yep, those same teenagers will get to pay the bills that the current generation of leaders is spending.
They get it.
And they don’t like it.
We try to teach our children not to go into debt, to live within their means. We tell them to be very careful of using credit cards and amassing high student loan debt.
For teenagers, it’s hard to control spending. From computers to cars, teens have an insatiable desire to keep pace with their friends in both clothing style and pop culture fads.
But they are having to prepare to pay off the largest foreign debt in our nation’s history.
For the first time, teenagers are telling their parents and grandparents, stop spending money.
Did these young people feel inspired by Barack Obama’s message of change? Yes, they did.
But they now see the national debt rising, they see their friends graduating from college with degrees that won’t get them jobs, and their vision of hope has soured into the reality that government spending at current levels cannot be sustained.
As they are coming of age to vote, they are looking for a government ‘hand’ out, and it is to get the government’s ‘hand out’ of their wallets.
Kids who aren’t even old enough to vote are being committed to deficit spending, which is renewing the call of no taxation without representation.
They may have a point.
The Constitution says that we have an obligation to “secure the blessing of liberty for ourselves and our posterity,” but the economic liberty of the next generation is being spent today.
Having family members live longer should be a blessing, but there has to be the determination that Social Security alone won’t sustain a retiree’s lifestyle, that health care cannot guarantee million-dollar procedures for those that have chosen to bypass health insurance, because the government can’t afford to pay the bill, either.
Will the current generation in control be remembered as the selfish generation, or the generation that restored America’s dream to the future?
It’s up to them, but I can promise you this, the next generation won’t make the same mistakes. They are already letting us know they will not support government spending at any and all costs.
They will require their government to live within its means.
For those that believe the young aren’t involved in politics, that has almost always been true.
But these new, tech savvy, highly educated kids can see through the illusions of government philosophy and look at their pay stubs and realize something has to change.
If the current leaders can’t say no, the next generation will.
Column by Leader & Times publiisher Earl Watt