“And what physicians say about disease is applicable here: that at the beginning a disease is easy to cure but difficult to diagnose; but as time passes, not having been treated or recognized at the outset, it becomes easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. The same thing occurs in affairs of state; for by recognizing from afar the diseases that are spreading in the state (which is a gift given only to a prudent ruler), they can be cured quickly; but when they are not recognized and are left to grow to the extent that everyone recognizes them, there is no longer any cure.” -- Niccolo Machiavelli
One of the biggest mistakes people make in politics is believing that if we can just "get the right people" in office, all of America's problems will disappear. Unfortunately, that's not the case because many of the biggest problems we have as a nation are structural and unless we start to address those underlying issues, we're not going to be able to get our country back on track for the long haul. So, yes, we should still keep trying to elect "the right people," but as the late, great Milton Friedman said, "The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing."
1) Demographics: You remember the hit our economy took when the Internet bubble and the housing bubble popped? Well, the biggest bubble of all is the baby bubble. The baby boom after WWII produced a massive population bubble that convinced politicians we could afford to be extremely generous with Medicare and Social Security benefits. In fact, we were so generous that the average person is paying less than a third of what he will get out of Medicare over his lifetime.
"Senator Tom Coburn (a physician in private life) has estimated that the average American couple contributes approximately $110,000 to Medicare over their working careers and receives over $330,000 of Medicare benefits. On Feb. 20, USA Today cited Urban Institute data pegging those same figures at $88,000 and $387,000, respectively."