Other campus: Mortgaging the future (Boston U.)

By The Daily Free Press

(U-WIRE) BOSTON – For the past 70 years Social Security has served as an important source of income for older Americans and a lifeline for many seniors living from check to check. But this money helping today’s seniors is not going to last forever. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle recognize this, but for a generation that has come to expect the instant gratification of the internet, fast-food and iPods, it is often difficult to look beyond the needs of today to the economic realities of 50 years down the road.

College students should learn to consider the consequences of current trends and understand that a generation must not only care for itself, but for its children and grandchildren. More importantly, unless they want the money taken out of their paychecks every week to disappear into thin air, they should take an interest in what action their representatives are taking to ensure that Social Security remains viable well into the 21st century.

The first step in taking action is an assessment of priorities, and while President Bush has had much to say about reforming Social Security, it is clear that his priorities are elsewhere. Regardless of whether the War in Iraq was justified, if Bush really wanted to plan for the nation’s future he would not combine the billion-dollar cost of the war with tax cuts for the wealthy, creating one of the largest deficits in our nation’s history.

President Roosevelt created Social Security as part of an ambitious New Deal program to rescue the United States from the depths of depression, at a time when it would have been impossible to foresee the Baby Boomer generation and the strains it is now putting upon Social Security. His successors, however, should have recognized the danger of Social Security money eventually disappearing. President Bush is not the only one to blame for the current situation, but he is the man currently in the Oval Office, and the onus is on him to curb his reckless deficits.

For all the talk about privatization and personal retirement accounts as the solution to the Social Security problem, what is really needed is a more basic change – a change in thinking about whether the priorities of today’s college generation and the nation as a whole are correct, or whether Social Security is going to be bankrupt before today’s college students have even begun to think about retirement.