Ross Douthat worries about how Medicare will strain social solidarity in a country growing rapidly more diverse:
Historically, the most successful welfare states (think Scandinavia) have depended on ethnic solidarity to sustain their tax-and-transfer programs. But the working-age America of the future will be far more diverse than the retired cohort it’s laboring to support. Asking a population that’s increasingly brown and beige to accept punishing tax rates while white seniors receive roughly $3 in Medicare benefits for every dollar they paid in (the projected ratio in the 2030s) promises to polarize the country along racial as well as generational lines.
I find it really strange that Douthat presents this as militating in favor of Paul Ryan's Medicare phase-out plan. Ryan's plan is that anybody currently 55 years old and up will continue to receive traditional Medicare. That's a heavily white cohort. The younger, browner generation will pay taxes to support this relatively generous system, but when they retire, they'll receive radically stingier benefits which grow stingier still over time.
Doesn't that make the problem vastly worse? It seems like a solution that preserves a somewhat trimmed version of the current system for everybody is the pro-social solidarity answer.