Nation will have to get young people engaged

The United States could be at a dangerous demographic and cultural crossroads. While the road to choose may seem obvious, to those who care, we may never reach it. The trouble being that we are moving on autopilot, and those who could drive the nation into the future are too distracted – with themselves.

To be more exact: The nation’s long-term fiscal situation is out of control, with federal programs such as Social Security and Medicare gobbling up ever-increasing amounts of federal resources. In 1962, 14 cents of every federal dollar not spent on interest on the debt went to entitlement programs. The amount is 47 cents today; and will reach 61 cents by 2030.

Solutions have been floating around. They involve reforms of entitlement programs. But these have been stuck in Congress amid partisan gridlock. Young people, who have the most to lose if the nation cannot sort out its finances, have been supporting candidates such as President Obama. But he and fellow Democrats are disinclined to address entitlement reform, because it would include lessening people’s dependency on government.

What are young people thinking? Part of the answer lies in social issues, women’s issues and immigration issues, with young people wanting to be fair and just to everyone. But their view of the nation, and its problems, is not broad enough.

And then there is the Time magazine theory. Time recently declared that young people are beyond self-obsessed. They are the me-me-me generation, with their lives revolving around posting pictures of themselves on Facebook. The criticism is that they are shallow and ignorant.

Probably a bit strong, but you get the point. It being: The nation’s swelling ranks of the elderly are consuming too many resources; the distracted younger generation is not engaged enough to help solve the problem.