For the past 25 years, there has been a bi-partisan consensus in favor of unlimited spending of later-born generations’ future income to meet the ever-escalating perceived needs of those who perceive themselves to be needy.
Executive pay had soared during the late-1990s stock market bubble, as executives had claimed to have personally created “shareholder value.” Since then every time stock prices have gone down toward something like fair value, the federal government has intervened to keep them inflated, so huge bonuses based on “shareholder value” could continue, even as the overall economy rotted away. Because that’s what rich and older asset holders needed and deserved.
Unionized public employees had already been promised retirement benefits far in excess of what other Americans were going to receive. But in many locations, such as New York, these were repeatedly enriched, because such employees need to do less for other people and for a shorter period of time. While retirement benefits for others were cut, because unionized public employees and retirees need lower prices for better goods and services, and that requires other workers to be lower paid.
The richest generations in U.S. history, those now over age 62, needed to be able to sell their houses to poorer later-born Americans for high prices in order to live in the style to which they had become accustomed. So every time the cost of housing threatened to fall to a level that reflected the lower incomes of later-born generations, the government intervened to keep prices high.
And since those over 62 and the rich expect to get benefits out of society but don’t want to pay for them, their taxes have been repeatedly cut, with lots of special deals for capital and retirement income and property taxes for seniors. Even as spending on everything other than seniors, retired public employees, and bailouts for the rich and big businesses have gone down, both at the federal level and in states where seniors are a higher share of the voting population.
It has been an era of unlimited generosity for those who have enormous perceived needs, the cost to everyone else and the future and those who live in it be damned. Massive income redistribution upward to the already better off that isn’t even allowed to be called what it is, so the entitled beneficiaries don’t have to feel bad about it. But what about state and local government spending on people who are objectively worse off, those who were once thought of as the needy? Well, that’s another thing entirely!