aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

A little math exercise

A friend posted a quote from Thomas Sowell on his FB, pointing out that those who want Social Security and Medicare to stay the same for ever should understand that the money is just not there any more. To which somebody replied, "oh, but it is there for so many other wars, and favoritism to the really rich, and subsidies to industries and groups a political party courts the support of...its [sic] there if we want it to be there."

It's there if we want it to be there.

This commenter reminds me of a famous story. In ancient India, the inventor of Chess presented his game to the Rajah. The Rajah asked what he would like to be rewarded with. The inventor replied that he wanted a single kernel of grain placed on the corner square, then two kernels on the next, then four on the next, and so on, doubling the amount he was to be given with every square. The Rajah immediately agreed, thinking such a trivial amount of grain a small reward for such a clever invention.

Have you ever done the math on that? There was not enough grain in the whole of India then, not in the whole world even now, to pay that bill. Expressed in rice, filling the first half of the chessboard would equal the total rice production in India in 2005; filling the entire chessboard would require a heap of rice larger than Mount Everest.

Believing that the money will be there if we want it to be there is to decree bankruptcy for ourselves. The thing people have to understand is that Social Security and Medicare -- as currently constructed -- will consume every dollar available in the whole US and then some. The bill coming due is larger than our whole economy. It cannot be paid. You can dump wars and favoritisms and all the bugaboos of the progressives, and there still won't be enough money to pay the reckoning they so blithely assume we can meet.

This has been known for years, but both sides ignored it, precisely because of the demagoguery of people like the commenter, above. Nobody wanted to tell people the truth. Now, the truth is upon us. Those who continue to deny this truth are not just foolish; they are dangerous if listened to.

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