As a response to the many commenters who responded to my recent Blogcritics post about elderly protesters, I’d like to offer up a short essay I wrote two years ago about my disgust with “the greatest generation” for foisting all their expenses on their grandchildren.
People need to take responsibility for themselves. I find it particularly disgusting that our nation’s supposedly most mature citizens are doffing the responsibility for their lives by lobbying and cheering for ludicrously expensive government entitlements, the burden of which must be borne by their children and grandchildren. You may be “the greatest generation” to some, but this selfish foolishness highlights a widespread moral and economic failure on your part. You’re supposed to be wise, you’re supposed to be an example to we who are following after, but instead you wield your political power not to help or guide us, but for your own comfort and enrichment. Shame on you all. Imagine how great a boon you could have been to your families and your country; instead you’re becoming a resented burden.
In 1 Corinthians 12:14 Paul writes: “After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.” In some circumstances the situation will be reversed, and I realize that it’s not always due to failure on the part of the parents. Nevertheless, the general principle stands. The new $400 billion health care entitlement that Congress just passed moves me to pity — it is a stark example of how the greatest among us have fallen short of the prize they should have obtained.
Given that we are where we are, what is the proper solution? In 1 Timothy 5:4 Paul writes further: “But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.” First note that this verse is speaking specifically about women who have lost their husbands; it was expected that older men would be able to care for themselves. We are instructed to care for our family, particularly our parents and grandparents, and the primary responsibility for that care falls on the children and grandchildren.
A few verses later, in 1 Timothy 5:8 Paul continues: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Once the parents themselves have failed, the responsibility does fall onto their immediate family. Only when the immediate family will not or cannot carry the load does the responsibility transfer to the community as a whole.
How does this translate into public policy? It’s not a simple issue. Would it be proper (or constitutional) to force families to bear the financial burden for their older members? Probably not. But the current situation is economically and morally unsustainable. Perhaps this lack of clarity should serve as a general indication that the government should not be involved in the area at all.