I worry about the future — not mine but that of my three children, all in their 20s. It is an axiom of American folklore that every generation should live better than its predecessors. But this is not a constitutional right or even an entitlement, and I am sceptical that today’s young will do so. Nor am I alone. A recent USA Today/Gallup poll finds that nearly 60 per cent of Americans are also doubters. I meet many parents who fear the future that awaits their children.The young (and I draw the line at 40 and under) face two threats to their living standards. The first is the adverse effect of the Great Recession on jobs and wages. Even if this fades with time, there’s the second threat: the costs of an ageing America. It’s not just Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — huge transfers from the young to the old — but also deferred maintenance on roads, bridges, water systems and power grids. Newsweek calls the young “generation screwed“; I prefer the milder “generation squeezed.”
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