Ken Connor

"Honor thy father and thy mother..." (Exodus 20: 12)

Writing in The Weekly Standard , Yuval Levin observes that in the last few election cycles, significantly greater attention has been placed on foreign policy than domestic policy. "Apart from immigration and the vague odor of corruption," he says, "it is hard to find a single domestic issue that candidates consistently stressed on the stump this year." This, however, will not always remain the case, and Levin believes that conservatives would do well to develop a fresh perspective on domestic policy. This policy, he argues, should be geared toward the concerns of the "parenting class". Levin discusses the anxiety many mothers and fathers face in the current economy. He says that one of the primary concerns confronting more Americans every year is how to meet the needs of their aging parents.

It's a big problem, and it is only going to get worse in the next few years. America is undergoing a remarkable demographic shift that will change the face of our nation. In 2005 there were 36 million Americans over age 65. Within thirty years, this number is expected to double. Because people are generally having fewer children, however, there will be fewer young people to take care of their aging parents. There will be more elderly men and women requiring long-term care and fewer young people to provide it.

When commentators discuss the fact that America is getting "grayer", they often talk about the problem in economic terms, which is perfectly understandable. After all, the elderly often require expensive care, yet they rarely produce money in their old age. Who will foot the bill? It is often noted that the economic crisis associated with the "age wave" will also be a crisis for the government. Medicare is slated to run out of money in 2018. A year before that, in 2017, Social Security will begin paying out more money than it receives in taxes. As the baby-boomers begin to retire these government programs will be stretched to their limit, and eventually the programs will not be able to meet the demand.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.