The opening shot was fired this weekend.
The oldest members of the Baby Boom generation turn 65 in 2011 and will begin to swamp the struggling Medicare program with millions of new applicants.The beginning of the end before all falls down. Generational warfare as the economic mask slips when the lies can no longer hide the truth.
Boomers born in 1946 - the first year of the postwar era when birthrates soared - will be eligible for the government-administered health insurance program starting Saturday.
The AARP estimates Medicare will gain 7,000 potential recipients a day in 2011, totaling more than 2.5 million over the year.
The Baby Boom floodgate will stay open for the next two decades as more than 70 million Americans reach age 65.
Medicare covered just 45.2 million people in 2008 and cost $500 billion. By 2030, that spending is expected to double, raising concerns that the health care program could go bankrupt - a devastating blow to Baby Boomers who have paid into the system their whole working lives.
The clock waits for no man or program.
Yes, the generation who first lived off their parents as long a possible and began the trend of narcissistic extended adolescence - inherited the most from their parents of any generation - and are also the first generation actively planning to impoverish & steal from the their children and grandchildren to keep things focused on what is important - themselves - are likely to turn into the worst cohort of greedy geezers ever seen.
As their demographics are are ahead of ours and their sense of entitlement the greatest - let's look to Europe for a preview of what may come.
Giuliano Amato, an economist and former Italian prime minister, was even more blunt. “By now, only a few people refuse to understand that youth protests aren’t a protest against the university reform, but against a general situation in which the older generations have eaten the future of the younger ones,” he recently told Corriere della Sera, Italy’s largest newspaper.The result is logical - and for a nation with few young to begin with - tragic.
The daughter of a fireman and a high school teacher, Ms. Esposito was the first in her family to graduate from college and the first to study foreign languages. She has an Italian law degree and a master’s from Germany and was an intern at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. It has not helped.
“I have every possible certificate,” Ms. Esposito said dryly. “I have everything except a death certificate.”
Even before the economic crisis hit, Southern Europe was not an easy place to forge a career. Low growth and a corrosive lack of meritocracy have long posed challenges to finding a job in Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal. Today, with the added sting of austerity, more people are left fighting over fewer opportunities. It is a zero-sum game that inevitably pits younger workers struggling to enter the labor market against older ones already occupying precious slots.
“What we have is a Ponzi scheme,” said Laurence J. Kotlikoff, an economist at Boston University and an expert in fiscal policy.
Southern Europe are loath to hire new workers on a full-time basis, so young people increasingly are offered unpaid or low-paying internships, traineeships or temporary contracts that do not offer the same benefits or protections.
“This is the best-educated generation in Spanish history, and they are entering a job market in which they are underutilized,” said Ignacio Fernández Toxo, the leader of the Comisiones Obreras, one of Spain’s two largest labor unions. “It is a tragedy for the country.”
Yet many young people in Southern Europe see labor union leaders like Mr. Fernández, and the left-wing parties with which they have been historically close, as part of the problem. They are seen as exacerbating a two-tier labor market by protecting a caste of tenured older workers rather than helping younger workers enter the market.
As a result, a deep malaise has set in among young people. Some take to the streets in protest; others emigrate to Northern Europe or beyond in an epic brain drain of college graduates. But many more suffer in silence, living in their childhood bedrooms well into adulthood because they cannot afford to move out.Here is the light of the train.
“They call us the lost generation,” said Coral Herrera Gómez, 33, who has a Ph.D. in humanities but still lives with her parents in Madrid because she cannot find steady work. “I’m not young,” she added over coffee recently, “but I’m not an adult with a job, either.”
There has been a national debate for years in Spain about “mileuristas,” a nickname for college graduates whose best job prospects may well pay just 1,000 euros a month, or $1,300.
Ms. Herrera is at the lower end of the spectrum. Fed up with earning 600 euros a month, or $791, under the table as a children’s drama teacher, Ms. Herrera said she had decided to move to Costa Rica this month to teach at a university.
As she spoke in a cafe in Madrid, a television on the wall featured a report on the birthday of a 106-year-old woman who said that eating blood sausage was the secret to her longevity.How will it end? Who can tell. Perhaps the system can save itself, but that will take the right leader. Europe in economic crisis does not have a good track record when picking leaders ... so .... we'll see.
The contrast could not have been stronger. Indeed, experts warn of a looming demographic disaster in Southern Europe, which has among the lowest birth rates in the Western world. With pensioners living longer and young people entering the work force later — and paying less in taxes because their salaries are so low — it is only a matter of time before state coffers run dry.
Worst case will be a systemic crash with the young leaving and the old remaining and no system to run it effectively. Of course - if you need young, demographics in Yemen, Egypt, and Somalia should be able to help you there.
Good luck with that.
Back to the USA though - I think we will be luckier (or at least have fewer excuses) as we will have all the warning we will need by looking to Europe. We are also younger and our immigrants are mostly Western New World types. Worst case - we get better food options.
It won't be pretty though - our Boomers are the worst and will demand what they were promised. They won't care if they were lied to by both parties for decades - they want what they want and will not be denied.
I was told by Professor Liebowitz in the 80s to not expect what you are promised by the government for your old age. He was right then, and I am glad I followed his advice.
For those getting a gov't check - it will be nice for maybe the decade it will remain in its present form - but by 2020 all bets will be off. If not - 2030's reckoning will be even worse.
You've already seen the benefits start to slide. You ain't seen nothing yet.
Prepare and you will be OK. Trust in the government, and you will get what you deserve.