BORN TO PAY: The New Politics of Aging in America by Phillip Longman

BORN TO PAY: The New Politics of Aging in America

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A political/sociological analysis of one of the ""powder-keg"" issues of the near future--the extent to which today's elderly are to be provided for by government largesse at the expense of future generations of seniors; by a researcher for AGE (Association for Generational Equity). This issue may become explosive because of the end of the baby boom. Contrary to popular opinion, actual wealth in the US is largely in the hands (and bank accounts) of those over age 62. Add to this a panoply of entitlement programs, protected by cost-of-living ""kickers,"" the real-estate costs that render home-owning prohibitive for current workers and saving nearly impossible; and posit a constantly diminishing base of taxpayers as the baby boom recedes, and you have a situation ripe for a generational enmity that would make the ""generation gap"" of the 1960's appear tame. Longman sees many of our social issues tied to this problem. In real estate, the inflation of property values worked to the overwhelming benefit of seniors who bought homes for a pittance and now have in equity many times what they paid. As for Social Security, ""young Americans are in acute danger of being stranded by [it] just as it becomes their time to retire."" Medicare has become ""an inheritance protection program"" for those who don't even need it. Longrnan calls for a British-style health plan, where all ages participate. ""Either access to publicly-funded health care is a right of citizenship or it is not. If it is, on what basis is such an entitlement denied to younger Americans?"" Longman is more concerned here with raising issues than solving them, but, nonetheless, this is a valuable preview of a major political problem of the 21st century.

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 1987
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin