Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Global Budget Issues

The Wilson Quarterly is my favorite journal. Douglas Besharov and Douglas Call's article on our budget issues is a good example of the kind of brilliant writing often found in the WQ:

[M]any government pension and health care systems for the elderly worldwide are now little more than Ponzi schemes that are running short of new “investors.” Aggravating the budget situation is the rapid rise in health care costs caused by the development of new—and expensive—medical technologies, drugs, and treatment procedures. The math is simple: Projected tax revenues are not nearly sufficient to cover future obligations—with the imbalance growing over time as larger shares of the populations in these countries begin to receive benefits. The U.S. Social Security and Medicare trust funds are giant and growing IOUs from the federal government to future recipients. Last year, the government “owed” the trust funds about $4.3 trillion. (These IOUs are dutifully printed at the Bureau of the Public Debt in Parkersburg, West Virginia, and placed in a filing cabinet. Not exactly Al Gore’s lock box.)

To read the full article, click here.

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