Jewish World Review March 10, 2011 4 Adar II, 5771
The Put-Off, Postpone and Procrastinate Generation
By Victor Davis Hanson
The Obama administration figures that it has read the national mood well. This therapeutic generation of Americans loves to talk and worry about problems and then assumes that either someone else will solve them or they will go away on their own. And why not, since we have had periodic "energy crises" since 1974, have run budget deficits in most years since World War II, and have been warned about a looming
But now gasoline costs more than
Yet the reserve depot was not designed to alleviate periodic gas-price spikes, but to ensure our very survival during a global catastrophe that might result in a cutoff of most petroleum imports from overseas. There are now more than 700 million barrels of stored oil in the reserve. In times of near-Armageddon, even that huge supply would provide for all of the nation's oil needs for only a single month. It would make up for all imported oil cutoffs for only two months.
So how is it wise to tap this critical but finite reserve -- especially when the current administration had prohibited new oil and gas production in large parts of the
This same self-centered approach characterizes the federal budget. The Obama administration appointed a national debt commission -- only to ignore so far its recommendations because they're seen as too painful. But note that the commission did not call for a balanced budget for years to come. It suggested that only after 26 more years of massive federal borrowing would we be able to ensure at last
The president often expresses concern over the escalating debt, but then he increased annual borrowing this year, leading to a record
There are two constant refrains about the
But if all that math is true, why wait to act? If Americans assume that our children and grandchildren may well have it worse than the baby boomers, then why not rework existing retirement plans right now, either by freezing cost-of-living raises or increasing the retirement age? Otherwise, we send the message that a more affluent generation can demand that a less affluent generation should make all the sacrifices.
It might seem ecologically noble to divert federal irrigation water from hundreds of thousands of acres of
But at some point, someone is going to have to tell the people that the less land you produce food on, the less food you have, and the more you pay for what is available. In a time of spiraling food prices, that honest message has rarely been delivered.
Such blunt talk is considered political suicide for candidates; in fact, anything less for the rest of us is national suicide.
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Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. Comment by clicking here.
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