With the first presidential debate and the only vice-presidential debate behind us, it seems pretty clear that so-called "social issues" are not going to get much attention in this year's presidential politics.
It's unfortunate, I think. We deceive ourselves to permit the assumption that values and behavior are not the real drivers behind our economic problems.
The fiscal crisis of our entitlement programs is the direct result of these values and behavior.
The fiscal soundness of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is rooted in the assumption that those who work can fund the needs of our elderly through payroll taxes. In the case of Social Security, we're talking about retirement income; in the case of Medicare, health costs of the aged; and Medicaid, long-term care of low-income elderly.
When these programs were founded, using payroll taxes to fund care for our elderly seemed like a viable idea.
The bottom has fallen out, however, because of changes in our behavior. There are fewer and fewer workers per retiree as result of longer life spans and a shrinking workforce.
In 1950, there were 16 working Americans for every retiree. Today, there are fewer than three. By 2030, it's projected there will be fewer than two.
It doesn't take a supercomputer to realize that if we don't reduce the retirement and health care resources available to our elderly, the burden on each working American to provide those resources increases substantially.
Yet the discussion about this crisis is 100 percent focused on how to cut the spending and zero attention is spent on restoration of values that could rebuild families, produce more children and stop destroying the unborn.
According to a new report just out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the overall fertility rate of American women -- defined by the number of births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 -- is the lowest ever recorded since the government started gathering this information. After years of hovering slightly above 2.1, it has now dropped below to 1.9.
According to demographers, a fertility rate of 2.1 -- in which each adult woman produces 2.1 children on average over her lifetime -- is necessary to keep the overall population steady.
Which means the overall U.S. population is shrinking.
We generally look to Europe to see low fertility rates and shrinking populations. However, according to the Economist magazine, the U.S., at 1.9, now has a fertility rate lower than France, whose fertility rate stands at 2.0.
A change in prevailing values could reverse this trend. But the opposite is happening.
According to a new Gallup poll, for the first time the majority of Americans feel that government should not promote any particular set of values.
In 1993, the first year that Gallup did this annual survey, 53 percent said that government should promote traditional values and 42 percent said that no particular set of values should be promoted. Now, in this latest survey, it is the opposite: 52 percent say no particular set of values should be promoted and 44 percent say government should promote traditional values.
With no rebirth of traditional values that could lead to more babies, caring for our elderly will become an increasingly onerous burden. Where can this soulless materialism lead?
In a Sept. 16 New York Times op-ed, Steven Rattner -- a New York investment banker and former counselor to the Treasury secretary in the Obama administration -- provided a shockingly candid answer.
The op-ed began by saying, "We need death panels."
Rattner then qualified this by saying, well, maybe not "exactly."
But, he concluded: "We may shrink from ... stomach-wrenching choices, but they are inescapable."
Obamacare was never primarily about getting the best, most affordable health care to Americans. (comments)
Anyone who knows just a little bit of history knew from the day President Obama signed this law in 2010 that what is happening today was inevitable. (comments)
He has demonstrated that his own political calculations are more important to him than his party or his nation. (comments)
The Republican Party still has not learned lessons necessary to reverse setbacks of recent years. (comments)
Both are living examples that personal success is not about government programs but about taking personal responsibility. (comments)
Because fewer are working for every retiree, our taxation nowhere near covers what the requirements for Social Security and Medicare will soon be. (comments)
Americans may have different opinions about what is wrong with the country. But there is plenty of agreement that the patient is sick. (comments)
The rate of child poverty in 2009 was 11 percent in homes with married parents and 44.3 percent in homes headed by single mothers. (comments)
Our president refuses to sit down and negotiate with Republicans who are constitutionally representing popular sentiment. (comments)
Big business, unions and Congress are getting themselves exempted out of Obamacare, ready to leave the rest of country to be shepherded into socialized medicine. (comments)
Only in Washington is it considered abnormal and obstructionist for a member of Congress to ring the alarm about the loss of freedom in America. (comments)
This president not only sits by and allows wanton murder of unborn children. He supports and endorses it. (comments)
We should wonder how we have so many discussions about freedom and so few about individual free choice and personal responsibility... (comments)
Fifty years after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, isn't it time for some new thinking? (comments)
The liberals who control the event have little interest in serious thought about why there have been failures. (comments)
It is high time that the black pastor, rather than the black politician, return to leadership in black American life. (comments)
Where is the money going to come from to pay for all the subsidized purchases of government insurance? (comments)
The Gosnell trial showed the nation that in America today, we have abortion factories where live children are being killed. (comments)
As the new American oil boom attests, it is freedom and capitalism that releases the human spirit, taps human creativity and produces prosperity that could never come from any government planner. (comments)
Politicians would rather have no new jobs at $12.50 per hour than 900 new jobs at $10 per hour. (comments)