As a quasi-boomer (having been born in July 1965 of a WWII father), who is and will be for a very long time paying off her student loans, I agree with Atlantic Monthly’s Michael Kinsley in the October 2010 article “The Least We Can Do” that the baby boomer generation should take ownership of the national debt, even if repayment is not a plausible or suggested option. My agreement though is qualified by the knowledge, quantitatively and qualitatively, that can be reasonably inputted to the boomers of the debt’s scope and extent, given that our lawmakers’ knowledge is limited and they create or presumably authorize the deficit’s existence. This requirement of knowledge may seem commonsense but the lack of real understanding contracts, fiscal constraints, and agreements is partially to blame for our current economic mess.
My agreement is also qualified in that I believe there are real options, some of which were discarded by Kingsley, that boomers could endorse in order to begin repayment or at least limit the raising of the ceiling of the debt ad infinitum. One is the drafting of people who are unemployed for military-style community service. Some of the “make work” that Kingsley sees is work that could serve a critical function through helping the elderly and disabled not just survive but enjoy their lives in addition to reducing the recipient’s dependency on a government check. This “draft” is currently in play in some states with those who draw unemployment. The drawers work as unpaid volunteers for companies or governments based on the volunteer’s field of expertise. Expand the draft concept to include a reward at the end, say for a certain number of years of service, estate or other taxes are waived to some extent, and it becomes an idea that can be sold.
Other ideas include negligible add-on fees (say $.05 per text message, post on social network and e-dating systems for example), selling of postage stamps, bricks, or other collectibles whose costs are underwritten by boomer corporations. Granted these measures would not be enough to repay the debt or even the interest without reinventing the way or reason for the incurring of debt in the first place but it would be evidence of the taking of ownership of the debt as well as prompt the endorsement of initiatives by the boomer and future generations.