In 2030, as 77 million baby boomers hobble into old age, walkers will outnumber strollers; there will be twice as many retirees as there are today but only 18 percent more workers. How will America handle this demographic overload? How will Social Security and Medicare function with fewer working taxpayers to support these programs? According to Laurence Kotlikoff and Scott Burns, if our government continues on the course it has set, we'll see skyrocketing tax rates, drastically lower retirement and health benefits, high inflation, a rapidly depreciating dollar, unemployment, and political instability. The government has lost its compass, say Kotlikoff and Burns, and the current administration is heading straight into the coming generational storm.
But don't panic. To solve a problem you must first understand it. Kotlikoff and Burns take us on a guided tour of our generational imbalance, first introducing us to the baby boomers -- their long retirement years and "the protracted delay in their departure to the next world." Then there's the "fiscal child abuse" that will double the taxes paid by the next generation. There's also the "deficit delusion" of the under-reported national debt. And none of this, they say, will be solved by any of the popularly touted remedies: cutting taxes, technological progress, immigration, foreign investment, or the elimination of wasteful government spending.
"*The Coming Generational Storm* is one of the most important (and refreshingly irreverent) policy analyses of recent years. Laurence Kotlikoff and Scott Burns ask what will happen to our economy and way of life when the baby boomers meet the current Medicare and Social Security systems. Their answers, using the innovative techniques of 'generational accounting' developed by Kotlikoff and others, demonstrate how close we are to a genuine fiscal precipice and the hard landing that awaits us. For our current presidential aspirants, the authors also provide some provocative ideas for how to ameliorate the damage this storm will certainly leave in its wake."
--Robert J. Shapiro, Managing Director and Founding Partner, Sonecon, LLC, Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution and the Progressive Policy Institute, and former Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs
"Among academic experts, Larry Kotlikoff has earned the title 'Mr. Generational Accounting.' His unfuzzy arithmetic decisively rebuts the Bush tax cuts, which are based on the delusion that 5 - 4 = 6, not 1. Read and judge for yourself the specter of our future: too many retirees dependent on too few working-age people. Fiscal imprudence now mandates broken promises later."
--Paul A. Samuelson, Institute Professor Emeritus, MIT, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences (1970)
"There's a lot of frivolous criticism of our politicians, but this book hits the mark, convincingly documenting their biggest sin: the failure to account for the magnitude of a huge government deficit crisis. The accounting scandals of Enron, WorldCom, and Parmalat pale by comparison. Read this book so you can start preparing for much higher taxes in the future for you and your children."
--Robert J. Shiller, Stanley B. Resor Professor of Economics, Yale University, author of *Irrational Exuberance* and *The New Financial Order*
About the Author
Laurence J. Kotlikoff is Professor of Economics at Boston University and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. One of the nation's leading experts on fiscal policy, national saving, and personal finance, Kotlikoff is author or coauthor of 11 books, hundreds of professional articles, and scores of policy papers and op-eds. Dallas Morning News personal finance columnist Scott Burns is nationally syndicated by Universal Press. His column can be read on the Web at www.scottburns.com and on MSN's MoneyCentral, one of the three largest financial Web sites.