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Cruel World: George F. Will on the Continuing Crisis

Today’s Washington Post carries a splendid op-ed by George F. Will, discussing my earlier riff on the constitutional dimensions of our unsustainable transfer state. Fortuitously, the print version of the Post features on the same page a frightening piece by Robert Novy-Marx and Joshua Rauh, summarizing their recent findings on underfunded state and local pensions. If we wanted to fund pensions at currently promised levels, they write, “a tax increase of $1,385 per U.S. household per year would be required, starting immediately and growing with the size of the public sector.” The levels of underfunding and, hence, required tax increases vary dramatically by state, from at modest $329 (Indiana) to over $2,250 (New York). That’s a lot of money, but maybe we can tax the rich. Failing that (or draconian reforms that would touch pensions promised to current—no merely new—employees), the funding hole will get bigger with each passing year.

Amazingly, the impending doom at this and other fiscal fronts doesn’t seem to be sinking in with the electorate. Random reader comment on George Will’s column: “Michael Greve is a heartless person who wants to slash and burn Social Security, while we are wasting trillions on military expenditures and foreign wars.”

More gratuitous cruelty: people with that mindset deserve what’s coming to them, soon in this theater.

Reader Discussion

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on October 21, 2012 at 17:38:29 pm

Michael....You and George Will are right about the bankruptcy of America. Once the Socialist Genie was allowed to escape from the bottle America's fate was sealed. People who have had their paychecks and businesses looted for 40 or 50 years and then expect the government to provide all that the politicians promised are living in a fantasy land. The answer of course,for the politicians, will be money printing and its inevitable inflation. What will happen to the individual complaining about "slashing and burning" Social Security will be that,yes, they will continue to receive their monthly Social Security checks but that check won't even buy a can of dog food.

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libertarian jerry

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.