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A Great Nation Retires

10:00 PM, Mar 18, 2013 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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Robert Samuelson's fine column in the Washington Post, “America the retirement home,” argues that “The budget debate’s central reality is that federal retirement programs, led by Social Security and Medicare, are crowding out most other government spending,” and that this is endangering the other important functions of government, including defense:

American flag

“The budget debate may seem inconclusive, but it’s having pervasive effects. Choices are being made by default. Almost everything is being subordinated to protect retirees. Solicitude for government’s largest constituency undermines the rest of government. ... The mistake lies in thinking that the apparent paralysis isn’t policy. It is. Government is being slowly transformed into a vast old-age home, with everything else devalued and degraded.”

Read the whole thing. Samuelson's column is powerful and depressing. Indeed, it brought to mind Goethe's famous prophecy, in 1787:

“Speaking for myself, I too believe that humanity will win in the long run; I am only afraid that at the same time the world will have turned into one huge hospital where everyone is everybody else's humane nurse.”

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