All Commentary
Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Young Workers Don’t Exist to Serve Retiring Boomers

Years ago, though my political orientation is far from the AARP’s as it can possibly be, I decided to retain membership for the sole reason of knowing what the enemy is up to.

The enemy is certainly not older people — I was 78 on January 3. Rather, it is out-of-control big government, and the ideas, organizations, and individuals who promote and sustain it.

In October the AARP Bulletin had an article by Kenneth J. Cooper headlined 300 Million and Counting. It was about the U.S. population reaching 300 million. For some people this was a milestone, but I regarded it as just another number. Let us all live in freedom, was my thought.

The article stated that the United States is the world’s fastest-growing developed country, although its growth rate isn’t as high as those in rapidly developing — and much more populous — China and India.

Then came these three paragraphs:

Still, says William Frey, a population expert at the Brookings Institution, the combination of healthy older workers and energetic younger ones give the United States a competitive edge in the global economy over Japan and European countries, whose populations are shrinking.

We’re not aging nearly as dramatically as those other countries, and we’re better for it, Frey says, because young immigrants contribute vibrancy to the economy and taxes to support services for retirees.

But as things stand now, too few young workers will cross the borders or mature from maternity wards to support retiring boomers at the same level as current retirees. [Emphasis added.]

This last sentence produced revulsion and disgust in me. (AARP says it does not necessarily share Cooper’s views.) The thought — that not enough young workers are entering the country and coming from maternity wards to support retiring boomers at the same level as current retirees — revealed the ugly truth about the big-government do-gooders who have corrupted, and continue to pervert, the message of freedom and hope that the United States once represented to a world that has known mostly poverty, depravity, and state abuse.

Cooper’s message to the world and to the home-grown mothers-to-be is: send us your young workers and have lots of babies so they can become slaves to the new generation of retirees.

Stealing the Fruits of Labor

Is this the United States we want? Is this what we will leave to our children and grandchildren — a nation that covets not freedom but a country where there will be enough workers forcibly deprived of the fruits of their labor to support retiring boomers?

As an individual who began losing his earnings to Social Security when he was 11 years old in 1940, I know all the arguments for enslaving the young to meet the financial and medical needs of the old. These needs can be met voluntarily and cooperatively, or they can be met at the point of a gun as they are today — thanks to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and the U.S. Congress, which gave us the Social Security Act in 1935 and its later sordid offspring, Medicare and Medicaid.

How would we survive without these government abominations? How did people survive in the past? People worked; they saved; they relied and depended on one another. Did everyone do as well as everyone else? No, but has everyone done as well with government paternalism? No.

What all of us need, young and old, worker and retiree, is to be free of do-gooder direction, coercion, and violence. The thought of encouraging any young person to come to this country to work so that he can be taxed to support retired boomers is repulsive. The thought of babies maturing from the maternity wards for this purpose is, if possible, uglier still.

Outrage is too mild a word to express how I feel about what Social Security and its offspring have done — and are doing — to this once free nation.

  • Mr. Zarbin, a retired newspaperman, does historical research and writing in Phoenix, Arizona.