“I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.”
“What? Who said that?” Colin said, giving me a puzzled look. We had been drinking lattes and chatting about his plan to get a masters degree in computer science. He had expected me to say something worthwhile about his plan. I had disrupted his expectations. Colin is my son. My job is to disrupt his expectations.
“Albert Einstein. I think it’s some sort of joke about relativity or about the fate of the universe or something. But never mind, that’s too hard to understand. Your plans reminded me of the quote.”
“How?” Colin was still puzzled and thus interested.
“Like the man says, never think of the future. That’s where you’re going wrong. You’re thinking of the future just like everyone says you are supposed to. That’s what makes you a sucker. In particular, you’re falling for the human capital argument, the idea that you should improve your skills through education or what the economists unimaginatively call ‘training.’ Since the returns to education are really high, you get richer and everyone gets richer.”
“Yeah. That’s the idea. I mean it worked for you, even you. What could be wrong with it?”
I paused. Even me? About once an hour Colin forces you to recalculate his costs and benefits to determine whether he’s a plus or minus.
“The future has to be like the past. Over the past three decades the returns to education have been astronomical. Spend more on education, get more income after taxes. But your working life will be over the next five decades at least. That future doesn’t have to be like that past. In fact, the signs are you should do what Einstein says.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Look at this way. It doesn’t matter whether education increases your productivity unless you get to keep enough of the added wealth to justify the high cost of a degree. Even with the tax rates we have, the added education made sense for my generation, but it probably won’t for your generation.”
“You’ve got debts to pay. Other people’s debts. There’s $11 trillion or so for Social Security that’s not provided for now. You’ll have a sizable chunk of that, and it’s not the scary part. Medicare has a $60 or $70 trillion shortfall, somewhere in there. $16 trillion for the prescription drug benefit alone. As it is. Not as it will grow to be.”
“So, someone’s got to pay for those programs. The generation that will receive the Social Security that you have to pay for.”
“You mean your generation, old man,” Colin laughed.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online