We had a much easier time getting jobs, promotions, cars, houses, and savings than earlier generations. But now, each generation following mine seems to be experiencing a harder — not easier — time than the one before.
Yet our government’s programs and resources strongly favor us seniors. Several press reports these past few weeks reminded me just how distorted and unfair this trend has become.
- In 1959, over a third of all people over 65 were poor. Today, only eight percent are poor.
- At the federal level, for every dollar invested in youth (under 18), seven dollars go toward programs supporting the elderly. (Taking into account that most education is paid for at the local and state level, the ratio is still 2 1/2 to one.)
- Overall more than 50 percent of federal benefits flow to the 13 percent of the population that is over 65,
- The median annual income of married couples between the ages of 65 and 69 is $61,000. One quarter of those households earn more than $100,000 a year.
- The wealth gap between households headed by someone over 65 and those headed by someone under 35 is wider than at any point since the Federal Reserve Board began keeping this data in 1989.
- As many as 100 million Americans now live in households earning less than their parents at a similar age.
- Comparing inflation-adjusted net worth between 1992 and 2010, households headed by someone 75 or older was $216,800 in 2010, a whopping 63 percent increase from 1992. For households headed by someone 65 to74, net worth was just a little less at $206,700, up 38 percent from 1992. In contrast, those households headed by someone 35 to 44 had a 38 percent loss in net worth between 1992 and 2010.
- At the federal level, we have trillions in unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare benefits coming due, as more and more baby boomers retire.
- At the state level, pension fund managers have been permitted to assume their investments would grow 7.5 to 8 percent a year, when in fact 3 to 6 percent has been more realistic. This bipartisan ruse has created trillions in unfunded liabilities.
- In 1980, a year at a public college cost about 12 percent of median family income; the maximum Pell grant covered 70 percent of that expense. Today, public colleges cost a staggering 26 percent of family income each year, and Pell grants cover at most a third.
- Our K-12 schools have slid from best in the world to mediocre, due at least in part to a bipartisan policy of keeping entry level teachers’ salaries in ranges that do not consistently attract “the best and brightest.”
- Our investment in research and development and infrastructure trails that of many other countries.
- The job market for young people is a disaster. Millions of Americans in their 20s are taking non-career-related jobs or unpaid internships while trying to manage huge college tuition loans.
“Old vs. Young” NY Times Sunday Review, June 22, 2012 http://nyti.ms/KXoaXM
“Share the Wealth” NY Times Sunday Review, June 22, 2012 http://nyti.ms/KyGWif
“Young Americans Get The Shaft” Washington Post, June 13. 2012 http://wapo.st/MvSu7l