The problem is made worse still because of the way the tax burden will be distributed. For some older people – such as those in retirement – there isn’t much problem at all. They benefit from the government’s commitments, but are unlikely to have to pay much towards their cost. For young people, it is the other way round: they are expected to pay large amounts into the system and get little back in return; and the younger the person, the worse the deal. So we have an average, per person, tax burden of £73,000 if we are feeling optimistic and nearly £117,000 if we are feeling pessimistic – but in either case possibly much higher, and certainly rising – that is distributed very unevenly across the population: younger people paying much more, and older people less, if anything at all. One recent estimate suggested that a UK citizen born in 2011 will inherit, on birth, a debt of perhaps £200,000, and it could easily be much more. It is simply inconceivable that debts on this scale will be paid off in full.
Nor should they. These were not debts that youngsters freely took on, but obligations incurred on their behalf in many cases before they were even born. The uncomfortable moral question then naturally arises: at what point does the debt become so large that our future children will be born into a new form of slavery, entering the world shackled by the debts of their forbears?
This highlights the underlying moral as well as fiscal bankruptcy of the system. For years, politicians yielded to the temptation to increase spending commitments and put off the costs of those decisions into the future, when it would be someone else’s problem…. In so doing, our political system created a huge intergenerational Ponzi scheme, passing the buck from one generation to the next, until the whole rotten system inevitably collapses under its accumulated weight. The long-term, even medium-term, outlook is therefore deeply unpleasant. Taxes will rise, sharply, but these rises will not be enough, and will leave younger people with little incentive to work or to save. Benefits across the board will be cut, massively: the government will renege big-time on many of its commitments, breaking its health, pensions and other promises on a huge scale. The social and economic consequences don’t bear thinking about. And of course there is the very real danger that even these draconian measures will not be enough: that the government will lose all control of its finances and end up printing money to pay off its debts, so leading to hyperinflation and economic collapse.
Kevin Dowd The UK is Broke Cobden Centre
They are still more worried over at the Automatic Earth – 40 Ways to Lose your Future