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Community Radio Radio De La Comunidad Programmi,pus Di-versit For A Cu.ity_ralld averse atu P.O. Box 2116 Austin, TX 78768-2116 Visit us on the [email protected] www.koop.org Generation, continued from page 17 America spends 14 percent of our enormous GDP on health care is, actually, a marvel, guaranteeing the possibility of first-class service to everyone. It would be better, of course, if everyone had decent insurance, if there were adequate coverage for prescription drugs, if we did not waste three percent out of the 14 on financial paperwork. But Medicare itself is not the source of those issues; indeed Medicare is by far the most efficient part of the health care system we do have. Cutting actual medical spending in halfmerely to eliminate the so-called “Medicare deficit”just as the population ages and requires more care would not be a good idea. Can the economy of the United States really, truly support its future elderly in reasonable comfort, over the years and decades to come? Kotlikoff and Burns say no. They argueor appear to argue on page 98 that average real wages \(the incomes 2075, thanks to the huge tax burdens that meeting Social Security and Medicare obligations will impose. Unless, that is, Social Security and Medicare are themselves retired. That sounds terrible. But, as those of us who attended Kotlikoff’s seminar in Texas eventually learned, that projected real wage cut is not from current levels. It is, rather, from projected levels, which include an allowance for productivity change and real wage growth. In their book, Kotlikoff and Burns mention a 1.7 percent annual productivity gain, and they concede that this will be built into growing real wages. If that holds, then in 2075 workers would be 3.3 times richer on average than today. This is on the assumption that Social Security and Medicare are killed off as recommended, and that today’s boomers die miserable and poor. And, if nothing is done? If we continue to pay the terrible price of supporting tomorrow’s elderly exactly as we are currently promising to do? Well, then, according to these same assumptions, tomorrow’s workers would still be three times richer than today’s. Put that way, the future doesn’t look so bad. But Kotlikoff and Burns never spell this out in The Coming Generational Storm. James K Galbraith holds the Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin, and is a Senior Scholar with the Levy Economics Institute. Candy Men, continued from page 42 UT dean at the time, a rather creepy citizen who reportedly once belonged to the right-wing Young Americans for Freedom on campus, saw the finished product before it was printed up for distribution and ordered that panties be affixed over the bare bottomimmediately! \(I still have a copy in my office at UT as evidence, the added dark panties caused a stir, pleased that he could still rattle the hopelessly square world, as, by the way, he had been doing for years in noisy, hilariously expressed opinions in The Nation, a magazine for which he wrote throughout his career. To repeat, I don’t think his phone was exactly ringing off the hook for decent-paying campus visits like this, and by 1981 he was largely ignored in mainstream literary circles. Nevertheless, upon arriving, he got the honorarium check for a thousand dollars, then headed directly across Guadalupe Street to find a bank and cash it. For the next few days he wouldn’t let any of us hanging with him shell out for anything, as he kept pulling the roll out of his suit pants pocket and smilingly peeling off the bills. In the course of the visit, he valiantly tried to flirt withmove in on?a good-looking middle-aged secretary from the UT administration’s Main Building who somehow ended up at the Westlake Hills party, the author of Candy repeatedly assuring her she was “super-fab” \(his vocabulary could be vintage Austin Powers and last night in Austin, with a bunch of us listening to off-key jazz at the Hole in the Wall bar across from campus, he tried to get the bar’s manager to sell him the Lone Star beer sign on the wall to take home to Connecticut with him, ready to lift a hundred bucks from the roll pretty thin by that stage. Luckily, we got him out of there and told him the thing wasn’t worth any more than 25. I think we drove to another bar downtown that night, the windows of my old Ford Fairmont station wagon rolled down in the balmy April air; blasting from the eight-track was a twangy Lefty Frizzell tape, which he had earlier found in the junk under the front seat and insisted be played whenever he got into the car. Believe me, this guy from “Big D,” one of Texas’ own, was plenty of fun. And more than once while reading his son’s book about Candy now, with its documentation of contracts and legal actions and counteractions and, ultimately and always, money, I kept picturing that roll of crisp green billsTerry Southern almost trying to spend it as fast as he could and possibly realizing full well that it didn’t really mean a hell of a lot to him, when all was said and done. Candy, that loopy best-seller of the 1960s, is an icon for those times, all right. I personally like to think Terry Southern, the writer himself, was exactly that, too. Peter LaSalle’s books include a novel, Strange Sunlight, and two story collections, Hockey Sur Glace and The Graves of Famous Writers. He teaches creative writing at UT-Austin. 42 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 8/13/04