Generational Theft

It’s so easy to lose the fine print.

In a recent editorial, Geoffrey Canada, Stanley Druckenmiller and Kevin Warsh warn about the consequences of “generational theft.” The authors, claiming diverse backgrounds, nevertheless pick up one of the favorite memes of the Tea Party budget hawks and deficit wonks. Citing simple arithmetic, these men paint a stark picture of the need to cut spending to prevent what I will term an “entitlement implosion apocalypse.”

Hey, if everyone else can use loaded language, why not me?

Nevermind that the arithmetic is not simple at all and that budget projections are based on enough assumptions to make asses out of you’s and me’s from now until Judgement Day.

The budgets must be cut!

And, of course, now they have been.

In their defense, these authors do acknowledge the problems with crony capitalism that only drives greater and greater concentration of wealth. And they make one of the most important parenthetical imaginable when they say that undoing this “generational theft” must be accomplished without “sacrificing future growth (e.g., research and education).”

But that’s just it: When you make “generational theft” the headline and make research and education the parenthetical as these men have done literally and which the various politicos have done figuratively, you have set the stage backwards. The scenery’s up front and the actors are hidden from view. Enjoy the show.

The sequester, if not promptly reversed, is stealing a lot more from our progeny than most people are admitting. Without investments in tomorrow’s science and tomorrow’s citizens, our economy will stagnate. Eventually the foundation will rot away enough that even the stock vultures and their massive fortunes will waste away.

The sequester’s real casualty won’t be air traffic towers in Podunk, Idaho or casual Fridays for military contractors; it will be American competitiveness.

It really is just that simple. Just as it would be completely simple to reverse this idiotic sequester. Congress can undo the damage it has done with a single vote. Just say “oops” and buy back our future, because without the investment in research and education, we will not rise to the challenges of the 21st century.

Someone else will.


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