Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

 Once upon a time, there were two small children who were abandoned by their father in the woods. Left on their own, they have a dangerous adventure involving a candy house, a hungry witch, and a hot oven. Eventually they find their way back to their now remorseful father, and the fairytale ends.

As a child, I found the story of Hansel and Gretel unsatisfying. I was firmly convinced that coming back to someone who had abused and abandoned them was not a “happily ever after” storybook ending.

Unfortunately, this fairytale is becoming a reality for my generation. Like Hansel and Gretel, we are being abandoned. We face a future of danger and uncertainty because of those who have come before us.

Take for example the recent spending agreement made by the House and Senate leaders and set for a vote this September. Instead of making a serious effort to deal with the budget crisis, this temporary measure ensures they won’t have to address it until after the elections.1

This kind of irresponsibility has burdened my generation with a national debt of over $15 trillion dollars; one that continues to grow by approximately $4 billion every day.2,3,4 Put another way, our national debt amounts to a little over $50,000 owed per every man, woman, and child in the United States.5 Indifference has led to budget gimmicks that leave my generation with “rising health care costs, underfunded pensions, ignored infrastructure needs, and eroding revenues.” 6

The Pew Research Center found that 75% of the public believes it’s harder for young adults to save for the future than it was for their parents.However, this generation is not easily discouraged. More findings show that 88% of young adults are optimistic about their financial future.8 We have inherited a mess, and we believe we will rise to the challenge. The American spirit is not easily quelled.

Yet even if victory is won, how will the world remember the generation that selfishly refused responsibility for its own actions and passed the consequences on to those who came after? Is that legacy really the ending we want for this story?

Fortunately, this generation still has a chance to right the wrongs it has committed. It can become serious about taking responsibility, but time is short. Will this generation make sacrifices and do what it takes to end this story with a “happily ever after?” Will you?

1. Mascaro, Lisa. "Tentative Budget Agreement Reached with Congress, White House."Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 31 July 2012. Web. 02 Aug. 2012. <>.
2. Kim, Susanna. "What Could You Do with a Projected U.S. Debt of $15 Trillion?" ABC News. ABC News Network, 14 Feb. 2011. Web. 01 Aug. 2012. <>.
3. Jeffrey, Terence. "Federal Government’s Debt Jumps More Than $1T for 5th Straight Fiscal Year." CNS News. CNS News, 23 July 2012. Web. 03 Aug. 2012. <>.
4. Jeffrey, Terence. "Obama on Pace to Borrow $6.2T in One Term-More Than All Presidents from Washington Through Clinton Combined." CNS News. CNS News, 13 Jan. 2012. Web. 03 Aug. 2012. <>.
5. "US & World Population Clock." U. S. Census, 03 Aug. 2012. Web. 03 Aug. 2012. <>.
6. York, Mary Williams. "Gloomy Forecast for States, Even If Economy Rebounds." The New York Times. The New York Times, 18 July 2012. Web. 01 Aug. 2012. <>.
7. "Young, Underemployed and Optimistic." Pew Social & Demographic Trends. Pew Research Center, 9 Feb. 2012. Web. 01 Aug. 2012. <>.
8. Ibid.