New information suggests that young people are not buying into the old-vs.-young framing of Social Security opponents. Will their parents and grandparents follow suit?
Good news! Apparently Millennials are starting to see through one of the most classic narratives of the anti-Social-Security movement: generational warfare.
One side of the tactic goes something like this: old geezers spent all their money and didn’t save for retirement, but they can still afford their South Florida condos and presents for their grandchildren off your tax dollars. Thanks to them, there won’t be any money left for your retirement, and you’ll be left eating cat food and having the heat turned off in winter. We have to reform Social Security so that it no longer rips off the young to pay for the undeserving old, and then everyone will get to eat regular food at least five times a week.
Except that that’s not true. At all.
Even if it were true, the solution usually proposed is to keep the benefits the same for the retired or nearly retired, but to cut them for younger generations. And that’s the other side of the tactic: the actual policies are designed to feed generational resentment of the old for the young. You’ll be okay, sir, we’re just going after those lazy young people who don’t have any gumption or sticktoitiveness, not having grown up during the largest economic boom in human history and all. In this narrative, and in most of the actual policy proposals, benefits are preserved for already-old people, who usually vote in large numbers, with the promise of denying benefits to young people, who have baggy pants and loud music and the internet gizmos and whatnot, and who do not tend to vote as reliably. By keeping the old resenting the young and the young resenting the old, the theory is they can screw as many people as possible out of a dignified and civilized old age.
Says one young Social Security advocate, “if it’s not there for you, it’s because someone has chosen to take it away from you.” One hopes that everyone will get that message; if young people are harder to fool than expected, perhaps the older generations will be too.
Photo—Fabricator of Useless Articles/Flickr