Let me conclude by emphasizing the last of the principles or goals listed earlier--namely do something as soon as possible. Politically, this is a tough problem. Social Security is popular (particularly with the elderly) and it is running a surplus. We know that it is not viable in its current form, however, and our choice is to fix it now or fix it later. If we fix it later, the problem only will be worse, much worse as figure 1.8 made clear. The vast size of the baby-boom generation is causing some of the problems facing Social Security, and they can help with the solution if we can put the new plan together within the next few years. If we fail and postpone action for another generation, we will have just transferred a massive problem to our children and grandchildren without making an honest attempt to contribute to the solution ourselves. The stakes are enormous and this is one of those cases where the right thing to do is clear. Let us announce the changes that will be made in a timely way and let us be part of the solution.
The author would like to thank Clemens Sialm for assistance and the members of the winter quarter Stanford freshman seminar for ideas and stimulation. Martin Feldstein and Sylvester Schieber kindly provided me with publications and prepublications.