Published Saturday, December 15, 2012
Regardless of how the so-called “fiscal cliff” ends, one thing is clear: The combined group of Americans whose age comprises either the last few years of the baby boom, which is said to have ended in 1963, and most of the so-called “Generation X,” which followed and ended in 1984, will collectively get the worst end of a deal that, as a whole, they do not want -- when and if ever Congress and the President quit playing their games of alternative threats and capitulation.
That particular “Forgotten Collective Generation” should be mad as hell -- particularly those between the age of 55 and 35. The combined vote of that age group, no matter what survey one uses, was in the majority against President Obama and has a disdain for government in general.
And why not? Those under the age of 35 once again voted by a majority for President Obama and are more prone to agree with “tax everyone but me” politics. And based on how close the vote was in key states, they made the difference. So they got what they want.
The large group of American I describe did not. Even for those who chose President Obama and other Democratic candidates, or who held their nose voting for Republicans, might not like all that is coming their way.
For example, even under the so-called “conservative GOP,” most are resigned to the fact that Medicare reform will begin with those either at age 55 or slightly younger. The promise will be of opportunities to have some choice of a private plan or Medicare. But either way, the simple math tells us by the time these folks start to reach the age of eligibility that now exists, they either won’t be eligible, or the costs they share will be sky-high, or the quality of care will be so regulated, limited and uncaring that it won’t come close to resembling the Medicare program their parents or older siblings enjoyed.
The same goes for Social Security, which is not really a separate fund or trust, just another growing obligation for a debt-ridden nation. Particularly if one is on the younger side of this unfortunate group, don’t count on that little statement you receive telling you what you have contributed and what you would receive down the road. The math says it is impossible -- particularly if you are contributing to the “fund” at a higher level.
And of course these folks in general will have the great honor of having to work years longer than many of their parents or older brothers and sisters (I know there are many exceptions, so don’t think I don’t feel your pain, too, remaining boomers and seniors).
But it doesn’t stop there. Using 9/11 as the ultimate excuse, the privacy for those in this age group will shrink to nothing. Already law enforcement in many communities are moving to use drones to monitor activities from above, taking pictures of tags on cars for storage and using cameras at every corner to record activities, and now are trying to force mobile phone carriers to provide access to all texts.
Some of the things this far-reaching group of Americans, by and large, did not have to experience that younger boomers did were the Vietnam War and, for the most part, polio. But otherwise, they dealt with health issues such as AIDS, a total change in the predominance of insular electronic media, a general concept that to be successful one must gather numerous degrees with massive tuition loan debt, endless recessions, the “Great Recession” and, in more recent years, some really bad music.
They also have been forced to be basic pawns, for the most part, in a theater of the bizarre that has become national politics. Most could never have imagined a Congress that would not even pass a budget, much less a collection of political hacks and “professionals” who talk down to them, make idiotic decisions like passing tax cuts that “sunset” in a given year or decide arbitrarily that anyone who makes over $200,000 a year is fabulously wealthy. And how about a reduction in the payroll tax that would expire virtually without notice? We are on to you people, and the “Forgotten Collective Generation” will catch up with you one day -- if we live to get there.
(Matthew Towery heads the polling and political information firm InsiderAdvantage. His column is distributed by Morris News and Creators’ Syndicate.)