Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Total of our unfunded liabilities is staggering

A major supply of bedtime reading became available on May 1 — the annual trustees' reports on Social Security and Medicare.

Clocking in at 226 and 219 pages, respectively, the reports guarantee deep sleep. They also may cause nightmares among those who dare to think about what they read.

The figures in the reports are so beyond everyday experience that few will grasp their meaning. The trustees tell a nation that lives month to month on just-in-time financing that program costs will exceed revenue in 2017, more than 132 payments from now. They also tell us the fabled Social Security trust fund will be exhausted in 2040. That may be a year earlier than last year's report, but face it: It's 34 television seasons from now. The numbers, page after page, are nearly inconceivable.


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