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I just woke up so I will write my dream down now before I forget it. This isn't a metaphorical dream, it's a real dream that I just had.

I dreamed that I was living in the house I grew up in Brooklyn. It was a 2-family house with a basement. My father's parents lived upstairs and my parents and us kids lived on the ground floor. The main entrance was in front, but the side entrance led to a staircase which accessed the basement as well as both the apartments.

I dreamed that I was in the ground floor apartment. Three political pollsters (Democrats) had come to interview me. (I guess my subconscious doesn't realize yet that the election has already occurred.) They wanted to know why I am centrist.

Our conversation was interrupted by a knocking at the front door. A small group of rather scruffy college-age guys tried to push into the door, saying that they had been invited to a party. I didn't let them in, saying that the party was probably in the basement. They did go to the basement. Several groups of young men came both to the front and the side doors. I could hear the rock music coming from the basement. I locked my doors because some of the guys tried to push my door open, insisting that they be let in. I felt threatened by this. I thought about opening my doors and expanding the party to both floors, but I didn't want strangers rampaging through my apartment, messing things up and stealing my stuff. I did converse with one nice young man I recognized from the community college who had one hand replaced by a hook. (In the manner of dreams, I don't actually know this person, but yesterday I did meet a nice young man I knew as a child, now a high school senior, working at Radio Shack and planning to apply to colleges.)

I woke up and realized that there were no young women in the groups knocking on my door trying to get into the party. I generally don't find young women threatening.

I thought about this dream at breakfast and realized that it was a political dream. My generation (the Baby Boomers), together with older generations who (whatever their party affiliation) rely on pensions, Social Security and Medicare, are expecting an ever-increasing share of GDP to support and care for us. If younger people understood that they were on the hook for providing all this, they might upset our tidy system. Instead, they seem to party on.

I have been thinking about the long-term implications of this situation.

Last week, the Letters to the Editor page in the local newspaper published a letter from some religious dude riffing on "Fiscal cliff -- moral cliff" with how society is morally crumbling due to gay marriage legalization in WA State at the same time it is fiscally crumbling, etc. Although I didn't agree with the religious stuff, the "Fiscal Cliff/ Moral Cliff" juxtaposition caught my attention, so I wrote my own Letter to the Editor:

How does the so-called “fiscal cliff” relate to the “moral cliff” heading in yesterday’s Letters to the Editor? The “fiscal cliff” is the nickname for the tax increases and spending cuts enacted in The Budget Control Act of 2011. The “fiscal cliff” would decrease the deficit by $1.2 trillion over ten years. This is a drop in the bucket because the current deficit is $1.2 trillion per year.

The explosion in government debt is largely driven by the moral issues of continuing programs that workers have contributed to (Social Security, Medicare) as well as taking care of the poor, elderly and sick. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office expects Medicare and Medicaid to continue growing, rising from 5.3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2009 to 10.0% in 2035 and 19.0% by 2082. Personal Current Transfer Receipts (which includes all public and private transfers that are not direct compensation for work, including Social Security, pensions, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, food stamps, etc.) was $2.4 trillion in October 2012, or 21% of Personal Consumption Expenditures. This percentage will grow unless the U.S. economy grows faster than its dependents.

The current annual U.S. GDP is $15.8 Trillion. The current government debt is held by the public is $11.5 Trillion (73% of GDP) but over 100% of GDP if “interdepartmental debt” is included.

The “fiscal cliff” is only a symptom of the “moral cliff” faced by all developed countries with aging populations and a declining birth rate. What is the balance of morality when young workers who need to raise their own children are forced to pay for the endlessly rising needs of the elderly, sick and unemployed?


[end letter]

The demographics place a huge burden squarely on the young workers. (By young I mean everyone currently younger than age 50.)

Apparently even my subconscious realizes that the numbers don't add up and the political power structure is focused on maintaining the status quo, keeping the young out of the nice, neat "apartment" and letting them party on.

Wendy (just finished my coffee)
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