Fareed Zakaria sees a lesson for America in the youth-driven revolts sweeping the Middle East. No, America’s democracy is nothing like a Middle Eastern dictatorship. “But if the troubles of Arab youth make us shine a light on the state of America’s youth, the picture that emerges is grim,” he writes in the Washington Post. Soon, less than 10% of the federal budget will go to programs focused on those under 18, compared to close to 40% spent on Social Security and Medicare for the elderly. That's right: For every $4 the government spends on the elderly, it spends just $1 on kids.
The reason is obvious. “To put it bluntly, children don’t vote or make campaign contributions, and the elderly do both aggressively,” Zakaria explains. As a result no one will touch entitlement spending, making any posturing about deficit cuts "a charade." Instead, craven lawmakers make relatively ineffective cuts in discretionary spending, meaning our investments in our infrastructure, our youth, and our future. “Maybe," Zakaria deadpans, "we need to let toddlers form PACs.”