Balancing the Books

As of last week, the 316-millionth American should have received his/her first well baby checkup. From a health-care perspective this is a great time to begin life.

Infant mortality in the U.S. is at 6.6 per thousand live births and a life expectancy of 82.5 years. During those 82.5 years our milestone American will spend five years being a kid, 16 years pursuing education and 46 years working to support those in the baby-boomer generation who will be enjoying retirement which includes myself and my wife Sally.

Of course our newest American will not bear this burden alone; the ratio of workers to recipient is forecast at 2:1, elevating the task of funding Social Security from the present level of Herculean to Sisyphean struggle.

When the burden of taxes becomes excessive the law abiding become the law avoiding. Ultimately, it is the rule of law that permits a free-enterprise system to generate the wealth that sustains low infant mortality and long life expectancy. Lest you think that I am overly dramatic, you might want to review the criminal records of some of our current popular cultural icons.

Since 1994 the politicians in Washington have debated the viability of our Social Security system as the worker-to-recipient ratio hovered around 3.25; today that number is 2.9. The case of the 316-millionth American makes the argument for reform in a most poignant manner. Our refusal to demand a solution from our political leaders will tax our children and grandchildren into poverty as retirement entitlement programs consume 90 percent of income taxes paid. Any business operator would immediately rethink the business model when faced with a 38 percent reduction in revenue generation, but private enterprise has to balance its books or face the consequences.

Just ask Jeffrey Skilling.

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