Opinion

Why aren’t young people revolting over debt?

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Gary Shapiro
President and CEO, Consumer Electronics Association
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      Gary Shapiro

      Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association CEA)® the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer electronics companies, and a New York Times best-selling author. His views are his own. Shapiro's latest book, Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World's Most Successful Businesses, will be released in January. Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro.

Recently, 120 college student leaders, representing the voices of some 2 million college students across America, wrote the president and congressional leaders, urging them to raise the debt limit. They, along with many Americans, believe we must pay our debts and are concerned about how the fallout from a default would affect their futures.

“While you may disagree over which party shoulders more blame for our current situation, one thing is certain — young people will shoulder the consequences of gridlock during a time that requires bold action,” read the letter.

While it’s refreshing that these students are engaged, I wonder why these leaders and other students aren’t revolting over how Washington is stealing their futures. The wave of well-meaning and growing entitlement programs benefiting today’s Americans are combining to form a quickly growing tsunami that will drown their generation in debt and cripple the nation they inherit.

Consider a few facts:

– The Social Security “trust fund” is really non-existent (witness President Obama’s threat to stop Social Security payments during the debt-limit debate). Social Security was created in 1935 when the average lifespan was 61.7 years. Today, a 65-year-old Social Security retiree can expect to live to 78.2 years. Social Security is neither means-tested nor funded, which is why it is expected to go bankrupt in 2036.

– The fastest-growing entitlement is Social Security Disability, which pays injured workers until age 65. The problem is that it was enacted in 1954 when the United States was manufacturing-based, so it assumes physically disabled people cannot work. Yet shifts in telecommunications, the Internet and our service-based economy allow many “disabled” Americans to perform meaningful work. Moreover, an increasing number of Americans are being judged “disabled” for minor ailments. For example, one judge in Puerto Rico approves all disability claims, and in a suburb of Washington, some 77 percent of police officers retire early with a disability.

– Medicaid provides health coverage for low-income children and adults, medical and long-term care coverage for people with disabilities and assistance with health and long-term care expenses for low-income seniors. Its costs have increased by 1,849% in the last 30 years. Making matters worse, the new health care law — “Obamacare” — extends Medicaid-type health care to 16 million additional Americans. The White House claim that the new law cuts the deficit has already been proven false by the Congressional Budget Office

– Medicare (government health care for those over 65) is another deepening cost sinkhole as our population ages and health care costs increase. Earlier this month, the Senate Aging Committee heard incredible testimony on how drug companies can uniquely charge Americans high prices for drugs with dubious value. In his testimony, Jonathan Blum, the director of the Center for Medicare, detailed how doctors are incentivized to prescribe the costliest drugs possible, drug companies can charge whatever they choose and the federal government must pay even when two drugs have similar efficacy and 100 times the cost difference.

Today, we spend $1.41 for every $1.00 of revenue that the government collects. Given Democrats’ refusal to consider entitlement reform, we are steering the next generation off a financial cliff.

I recently asked our 15 summer interns at the Consumer Electronics Association why there is no youth revolt on the issue of their stolen financial futures. The answers were revealing and ranged from the focus on their studies and jobs, to a focus on the Internet and video games, to an assumption that other, smarter people will take care of it, to the absence of a compelling young leader. But the numbers don’t lie. In today’s social-media world, some clever American(s) will cause a revolt, and it will pit our “greedy geezer” generation against the hopes and aspirations of a generation of disenfranchised youths.

Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer electronics companies, and author of the New York Times bestselling book, “The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream.”

  • Jack Tripper

    Young people are not rebelling, but they are revolting.

  • Jack Tripper

    Young people are not rebelling, but they are revolting.

  • http://twitter.com/aemoreira81 Adam Moreira

    The short answer may be simple: They feel it doesn’t affect them at this time. But that said, they should be at least keeping an eye on it.

  • Liberalsareblind

    Obama and the Democrats have already ruined the future for the younger generations.  I think the reason you’re not seeing a massive revolt among the younger generations is because apathy has taken over.  We already know that we’re screwed!  

  • Rockingg

    Sadly our young people have lived with debt and don’t see it as a stumbling block.  Relating the default to raising the debt ceiling as a means to stop the default is another confirmation that spending more/money you don’t have is okay.  There are young people out there who understand you cannot rob Peter to pay Paul and if you do at some point Peter is broke and Paul is still clamouring for payment. Raising the debt ceiling is not a positive move towards payment of debt as it creats $2,7 trillion more debt, how anyone can rationalize this makes sense is beyond imagination.  Spending must be cut immediately, not tomorrow much less ten years down the road as the debt continues to increase by the minute!!

  • Sandy E

    Look at the riots going on in England right now.  From someone who is there right now, witnessing it all,  said that no rioter in over 30, and most of the rioters are under 20.  They’ve said, it is a protest against the rich.  Many many of the youth have never seen their parents work, they have free crappy socialized health care, and until recently they got a free education through college.  Since Thatcher, they have gone full bore socialized.  Anyone who owns a business in the UK, even just a small local shop, is considered rich by these youth.  Single parent households in the UK are at an all time high.  It is a class and race riot, much the same as Obama is trying to create here in the US.  Look at the black on white riots that happened outside the WI fair.  It will only get much worse here, before it gets better.

    The youth who wrote that letter to raise the debt ceiling, are the product of a very liberal education, taught by those who are trying to push socialism on this country.  They don’t have a clue about economics.  Raising the debt ceiling will only make their futures even worse.  They will all be slaves to the government, and, by the time they grow up and learn what a mistake they made, it will be too late.  That’s why the Marxists in Washington are reeling them in when they are young and dumb, and they believe that utopias really can exist.

  • Jen

    Just listen to the average ahole college professor in the average college class, listen to how hard working Americans like plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, etc. are looked down upon because they are not college educated. Ha ! Your children are being brainwashed into little zombies while the S&P looks the other way so George Soros the jew whose daddy killed other jews goes private to hide the fact that he had insider information on what was coming down the pike and bet a billion on the US getting downsized. He bought obama the white house to give him a place to “play” president while soros the devil plays evil emperor. And we keep telling our children to borrow and get that education. No one wants to make a stink or be uncool or racist. just stand silent and let obama and soros and all the aholes like kerry, pelosi, reid, frank etc. steal away your money and freedom. Has anyone asked kerry about his 7 million dollar boat he parked in RI to avoid Mass. taxes? No but Kerry is working on legislation to steal everyones retirement plan and dole it out how he sees fit. While he spends a dead man’s fortune.Dreams of my father is looking like a reality.

  • junkmaninohio

    The answer to your question is simple. Most young people still live with Mom and Dad and have no clue what’s going on. Nor do they care. As long as they can suck the good life from their parents, why worry. Free rent, free food, free education, free everything! Life in the basement sitting in their underwear raging away on their laptops, is what they do. They are content. Blame Mom and Dad. Then blame George Bush. Then blame the Tea Party  and chalk it all up to Global Warming.   

    • fedupinwi

      Maybe a good ol’ fashioned boot to the curb when they turn 18 might solve this problem. Then again, that requires a vested interest in parenting. As long as one is willing to entertain parasites, the freeloaders have no reason to make it on their own.

  • Anonymous

    Young people have less of a say than the adults who can vote.   The congress and senate are only  beholding to the groups that pay their election campaigns and give lip service to the public. This whole fiasco can be laid directly at the feet of the congress and senate and Bush Jr and the banking industry for their corrupt practices which the Republicans legislated into law.  To assume otherwise means you are so ideological that your reality is a fantasy. Americans are gullible and tend to believe what the government says. The government has been lying to us ever since Viet Nam, Cambodia Laos, in the mid 60″s and the supposed  scourge of the communist domino take over. The government has been doling out money to buy votes, blocks of voters and catering to the lowest common denominator. The dems want illegials as citizens because they tend to vote  democratic, and the republicans want free rides for corporations because they dontate money to their party for reelection campaigns. No one in government gives a hoot about Joe AMerica. TIme to recall the congress and senate next election and vote every incumbant out. or vote for Mrs. Nona de Abuff.  America first, and elected officials last.

  • caveman

    This is why,,,,,,,,
    “Your Children’s children will live under communism without a shot being fired..
    You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept Communism outright; but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of Socialism until you will finally wake up and find that you already have Communism.
    We won’t have to fight you; we’ll so weaken your economy, until you fall like overripe fruit into our hands.”
    Nikita Khrushchev, 1959