Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Less-Kind, Harsher America?

I'm 53, and I'm nervous.

Not for the usual reasons, mind you. My hair started falling out when I was 14, so that's a long-lost battle. Terrorist attacks? Always a possibility, but so are sunspots, the odd mugging, or running into some of my former girlfriends. My physical health is lousy, but I've resigned myself to all that. Actually, a longer life is not high on my Wish List, for reasons that will become obvious in a few minutes.

This happened a day or two ago. I was at my neighborhood convenience store, picking up a few bottles of Diet Pepsi [the only vice I still have worthy of note]. Like many of these stores, the check-out people change regularly. I was waited on by a man in his mid-20's, seemingly nice enough. We got to talking, and the subject of the Japan earthquake/tsunami came up. "I feel bad for the people there", he said, "but putting nuclear power plants in a country that has earthquakes and tsunamis regularly seems like a really bad idea". I pointed out that this particular trembler was of a once-in-maybe-a-thousand-years magnitude. He was certainly sympathetic, but still maintained that Japan was just a bad place for nuclear plants. I did see his point, but did have to straighten him out when he added that whoever put New Orleans where it was wasn't very bright, either.
Now, here's my concern: this man was part of the group of people who'll likely be running the Nation in a generation or so. No matter the knowledge or education level of this group of leaders, they will be seeing a country filled with aging Baby Boomers, crushing his friends with entitlements that will almost certainly suck Social Security dry by the time they would be old enough to draw on it. In an earlier time, we Boomers would have made as much provision as we could do care for ourselves. But, like domesticated animals, we no longer know how to care for ourselves financially, or in any other sense of that term. In a very real way, we need the protections the government has put in place for us. The problem is, the younger generations do not have enough potential workers to keep the money train running.
You might see where this is going; the New Leaders, noting that the Boomers don't have the means to care for themselves, could very possibly choose to put us on the mid-to-late-21st Century equivalent of an ice flow. And I don't care how patriotic they can make that act sound! I've lived my whole life in the Northern United States; when I die, I want to die somewhere warm, at the very least indoors.
A message to my fellow Boomers: be afraid. Be very afraid...
-Mike Riley