Pitting Grandpa Against Junior?

It's an intriguing and disturbing question: Is there a relationship between the aging of the population and the current push to cut federal aid for education, school lunches, and the like, while keeping Social Security sacrosanct?

According to a recent analysis of survey data by Maris A. Vinovskis of the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, support for increased federal funding for public schools declines with age. While 77% of those under 30 favor such outlays, older Americans, particularly those over 50, are less supportive, and by age 70, support drops to only 47%.

Similarly, when Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. recently asked 1,000 adults what they would do if they had to choose between paying for their child's college education or the care of an elderly parent, it found they chose their parents over their kids by more than 2 to 1. Support for senior citizens was particularly strong among people in their 40s and 50s--those both closest to retirement and most likely to have a needy, aging parent themselves.

Within two decades, almost all of the baby boomers will have entered their 50s and 60s. In the battle over shrinking public funds, a salient fact may be that children don't vote, but adults do--and with increasing regularity as they age.

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