With Social Security doomed, Jesus’ words on elder care are especially relevant to Christians today.
Thursday is Thanksgiving, a time when traditionally families come together for a meal and hopefully to enjoy one another’s company. However, some financial analysts are predicting a war, here on the ground in America; a financial war between the generations, a war over how to pay, or even if to pay for the promises that have been made. It is “a showdown looming between the young and the old,” according to demographics expert Paul Taylor, author of The Next America: Boomers, Millennials and the Looming Generational Showdown.
The fight between the generations will be over Social Security and whether America’s young adults (the Millennials) will be saddled with the unsustainable burden paying for the boomers’ retirement, according to Taylor, executive vice president of special projects at the Pew Research Center. In his book, Taylor describes an America whose future will be full of paradoxes. Looming over these future changes, according to Taylor, is one big question: “How do we keep our promises to the old without bankrupting the young and starving the future”?
People of all ages feel economic insecurity, they feel rising inequality. And one of the things that happens in bad economic times is people use the social safety net that families have historically provided… I focus on the rising share of Americans who live in multigenerational households. In many cases this is because you’re thrown together because you can’t find a job, your parents can’t find a job, your adult children can’t find a job…[The Boomer] generation has delivered unto its now grown children a very, very tough economy. This has got to be the toughest economy for any young adult to work his or her way into. You’ve got to go all the way back to the Great Depression.”
When asked “will differences that we’re seeing and are going to see between old and young …make it harder to reach an agreement on the sacrifices everyone is going to have to make to fix Social Security”? He replied, “Quite possibly, yes.”
The most important thing to remember about social security is that it is a government handout, and the terms of that handout are decided through politics. Government, moreover, is continually revising the various rules and payment schedules. Every time social security changes its benefit schedule, changes its tax rates, changes its retirement age, or changes anything else, politicians are breaking past promises. Indeed, the whole concern about social security and its long-term viability is a result of politicians making grossly inconsistent promises to different people.
It is widely acknowledged that by 2030 the trust fund will be gone and payments will be hugely in excess of revenues. In other words the political promises that were made to beneficiaries are inconsistent with the commitments that were made to taxpayers. The two sides don’t add up. There was massive lying to the public throughout our political system.
As one analyst stated regarding the 2014 Social Security Trustee’s report, “[u]nder no scenario does Social Security, Medicare or SS Disability have enough money in the till to survive the massive retirement of Baby Boomers.” In a decade and a half, if we can trust the Government’s own accountants, the system will be broke, unable to make good on its promises. Does God’s Word have anything to say about this hot potato issue in our culture? It most certainly does. Turn to Exodus 20:12.
“Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”
The Fifth Commandment does not have an end point. The relationship changes when we reach adulthood – obedience as children, but honor is for a lifetime. It is really amazing to think of the changes children go through. The goal of parenting is not raising children, but raising adults. The task involves progressively giving them greater and greater responsibility and greater options from which they can make wise choices. Psalm 127:4 speaks of children “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.” So they are to be developed and crafted with a specific target in mind. When they reach adulthood then their arrow is launched by the parents; launched out into the world to fulfill their God given calling in life.
Modern society teaches that civil government will care for our parents in their old age, but let me point out that real welfare is the duty of family government. Indeed, Jesus taught that honoring parents meant caring for them in specific, practical ways that often involve finances. So let us in all ways, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”
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