Washington Libertarian Review

Political commentary from the State of Washington with a libertarian perspective.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Learning to Tell the Truth

Last weekend here New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman lamented the failure of modern American politicians to tell the truth. He would, for example, vote for Bill Cosby if "he would talk as bluntly to white parents and kids about what they need to do if they want to succeed as he did to black kids and parents a few months ago."

Of particular concern to Friedman were three population related phenomena that should reach critical mass in the next 10 years or so. First, the American baby boom generation is now two presidential terms away from claiming its Social Security and Medicare benefits. Assuming the programs remain unchanged, some claim the cost will exceed the net worth of our entire national economy. Second, Friedman says young people in India, China and Eastern Europe will enter the job market as skilled, or perhaps more skilled than our own children, and compete for even the high-tech jobs. The third wave, according to Friedman, is from the Arab world, which has the fastest growing population in the world. One-third of the Arab population is under the age of 15, and the Arab world is not even close to educating its baby boomers with the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century, a prescription for humiliation and suicide terrorism.

But, as Friedman noted, truth hasn't sold well to the American public.

After a half century of relatively easy times any talk of hardship and hard choices offends those secure in their easy chairs and watching ESPN. And it isn't as if Friedman just discovered these things. Local libertarian and friend Kelly Haughton advised me of the coming Social Security crisis nearly 10 years ago. Now, the impending failure of Social Security is so commonly known that most educated adults under 40 don't expect the program to exist when they retire.

But still nobody seems to care. And while future job competition and widespread poverty in the third world may not seem as threatening, they are likely to cause just as much financial upheaval as the retirement of the baby boomers will. And these issues are barely on anybody's radar.

From a strategic perspective, this may not matter much to Libertarians either. At present most of us are still trying to be recognized as a legitimate alternative to the same old party rhetoric that we have been hearing for most of the 20th century.

Happy Times Are Here Again

This is the New Frontier

Morning in America

But these issues--Social Security Crisis, Third World Job Competition and Massive World Poverty--are just around the bend. As the Libertarian Party continues to grow and gain influence it needs to start thinking about practical responses to them now, so that it will be ready when the need arrives.


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