The Class of 2009 – Debtor Generation

The most commonly voiced complaint about the Obama stimulus and bailout plans among both Republicans and Democrats is that the deficits and debts that have been created in order to get the economy moving will saddle the next generation with a huge unpaid bill. Of course what these Republicans and Democrats fail to acknowledge is that since the Reagan years this country has been on a deficit and debt binge no different from what Obama is doing now.

But while these politicians sit in their offices in Washington and spend our money, they never have to face those who will have to deal with their spending spree. Every day I face the next generation of Americans in class, the so-called millennial generation. It is my sad duty to inform them of the bad news – they will likely have to pay for all the mistakes, misjudgments and excesses of the older generation. They will most certainly have to change their name from the millennial generation to the debtor generation.

When I give them the bad news they have a look of shock and awe ( to borrow a Bush phrase ) as I list the financial obligations that will be left on their doorstep. In no particular order, there is Medicare, Social Security, the interest on borrowing from the Japanese, the Chinese and the Saudis, and of course the 14 or 15 trillion national debt that most experts agree will be one of the less desireable legacies of Obama’s presidency.

After I get their attention with this litany of obligations, I hit them with the final dagger to the heart and the pocketbook – this bill will almost certainly have to be paid for by raising taxes, their taxes. No politician will talk about the T word, unless he or she doesn’t care about being reelected, but sometime in the future adult, responsible politicians will have to tell the debtor generation that they must pick up the bill.

This is the moment when I really have their attention as it dawns on them that just at the time when they are getting married or building their dream house or trying to put money away for their own kids college, Uncle Sam will be asking them to make personal tax sacrifices to take care of grandma and grandpa, pay off the foreign IOUs, and bring down an out of control national debt. Needless to say, there is quiet anger in the classroom as these young starry-eyed citizens of tomorrow realize that they have been left holding the bag.


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