Monday, April 25, 2005 - Richard Lamm -- We are the Generation of debt

We are the Generation of Debt: Richard Lamm : "There is an issue of great significance emerging in America: intergenerational equity. We are not being fair to our children and our grandchildren, we are not paying debts that should rightly be ours, and we are indulging ourselves at the expense of the future.

Never has a generation, until mine, left its heirs with as much debt. Never has a generation put so much spending on their children's credit cards.

My mother and father fought a war and a depression, built up the world's best highway system and infrastructure and left my generation only a small national debt. My generation fought no world wars, and we have lived in the most prosperous time in human history, yet we are leaving our children with a staggering federal debt. I inherited the world's largest creditor nation; I leave my children the world's largest debtor nation. I inherited an America that produced far more than it consumed, and I am leaving an America that consumes far more that it produces. We have indulged ourselves at the expense of our children.

Most Americans don't fully recognize the extent of the debt we leave. We know of the $7.5 trillion federal debt, but don't know of the 'unfunded liabilities' for benefits we enjoy but whose cost we leave to our children. The Concord Coalition estimates these unfunded liabilities to be a staggering $74 trillion, mostly unrecorded, unfunded debt for benefits our generation has received or will receive but has not paid for.

To pay off a debt that large, all Americans would have to work seven years and give everything we earn to the government."

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