MSN money reports on the issue and while what they say isn't anything new who they quote is interesting. Instead of a libertarian or a conservative organization like Reason, Heritage or the Cato Institute, they choose to quote someone from Third Way a democratic, reportedly centrist, think tank. This in itself may be indicative of a shift among the more progressive political classes. Here is a quote from the think tank.
"Entitlements are squeezing out public investments" in education, infrastructure, research and other fields that have nurtured future prosperity, the study said. "The only way for Democrats to save progressive priorities like NASA, highway funding and clean energy research is to reform entitlements."For decades neither of the two major political parties wanted to really address social security; the only wanted to allow you to choose where your pilfered funds where invested. But no one more than the democrats defending entitlements as integral to a socially just society. But though politicians waxed on about how important it was to take care of the elderly and the down trodden, the real purpose of those programs was vote buying. So long as it was profitable for a politician to support those programs they would. But now the costs are becoming too high.
In the end a progressive society can never be obtained because it fundamentally ignores one of the truths about human nature; we are positively greedy apes. Free markets and limited constitutional government tacitly acknowledges this and allows other facets of humanity both evolutionary and societal to balance it all out. Progressives on the other hand, by its insistence that the government do what society and family once took care of, erodes those negating factors and allows the worst aspects of greed are allowed to fester and grow. Eventually the resources that can be acquired from 'others' is eliminated or minimized to the point where the opportunity costs associated with going after those resources is too high.
The progressives still haven't given up on trying to leech off more money from the dastardly rich, but considering that almost half of all Americans do not pay income taxes, but are admittedly still liable for other taxes, the political leadership may realize that the well will run dry soon. So what are progressives to do? Turn on each other of course. If the quote from the article is any indication we may see a progressive fault line between those who favor entitlements -elderly, poor and minorities- versus those favor government programs -government employees, universities and environmentalists. That remains to be seen but there is another social trend I am sure of.
While the Boomers may have been amendable towards entitlements for the Depression and Silent Generations the same won't be true for the Millenials and younger members of Generation X. There is no illusion among us, the younger generations, that there will be any retirement money when we are whatever the collection age will be at that time. Given that Baby Boomers are largely responsible for the utter self destruction of Western Culture why would our generations want to write them a check. The moment the Millennial and younger Generation X vote is equal too or greater than the Boomer's in political capita is the moment their money spigot is turned off.