For “debt” in the 1st, 2nd and 3d paragraphs we substituted “climate change”.
For “government spending” in the 2nd paragraph we substituted “growth”.
For “debt” in the last paragraph we substituted “fossil fuels”.
So revised our commentary on Mr. Ferguson reads:)
Niall Ferguson, a British economic historian, considers that the real crisis of Western democracy is massive climate change that “allows the current generation of voters to live at the expense of those as yet too young to vote or as yet unborn.” Current levels of climate change are a fundamental betrayal of younger generations by the old. Unless climate change is curtailed, the next generation faces a bleak future of much higher taxes along with drastic cuts in other forms of public expenditure. If older generations were truly concerned about what will be left for the young, they would fight to curtail climate change now.
Yet most younger voters are not concerned about climate change. They want growth to continue, as least insofar as it benefits them, even though this policy will make matters even worse in the longer term. As Ferguson says: “Young people find it quite hard to compute their own long-term economic interests.”
Young voters are politically active in many effective ways and they have the media savvy to exploit their political statements. If they don’t take advantage of these talents to stop the growth of climate change, why should anybody else do so?
Our ability to curb fossil fuel addiction is the biggest test faced by Western democracies today. This is more than a financial problem. It’s a moral problem. We have broken our social contract with the generations that come after us, and it’s our duty to restore it. Mr. Ferguson says we could begin by insisting on an honest accounting from our governments about what our addiction to fossil fuel will really cost. That accounting might shine a light that would finally lead to recognition of what must be done.
We don’t know what Mr. Ferguson really thinks about the subject, but in our view his analysis of government spending is equally applicable to climate change!