CUMBERLAND FORESIDE — I write to offer a somewhat different perspective from that offered by Lori Parham, state director of AARP Maine, in her Nov. 21 Maine Voices column. In the column, noting the losing vote on ballot Question 1, which proposed to provide funding for the care of the elderly, Ms. Parham argues that the Maine Legislature must address the need for such care and funding.

I write as a 64-year-old, which is seeming pretty senior. I write also as the father of three children, ages 22 to 29, and I look at the world we are leaving them.

Our gross national federal debt is $21.6 trillion, state and local debt is $3 trillion and unfunded state and local pension liability is estimated to be $1.4 trillion, for a total of roughly $26 trillion of public debt. It is certain that our national debt will increase by another trillion a year, with no end in sight.

Health care spending accounts for roughly 22 percent of the Maine economy, and the field employs more than 100,000 individuals. Our nation pays more than twice what other nations pay for health care – for really mediocre results. The rate of inflation in health care is astonishing, with no reason to think it will subside. Nationally, 34 percent of health care expenditures, through either private or public payer systems, go toward medical attention for seniors, though they account for only 14 percent of the population.

Education costs have also soared at a rate substantially beyond the general inflation rate. Despite these increases, as a society, we have continually imposed more and more of the cost for education, especially post-secondary education, on to the next generation, resulting in shocking levels of debt for our kids.

And then there’s housing for the next generation, many of whom will never be able to purchase a home because the pricing is also rising so rapidly.

Shortly after I became a town councilor in 1994, I was sitting in a meeting discussing funding for a town library and a constituent said, “We didn’t have a library when I was growing up, and if that was good enough for me, it’s good enough for this generation.” Many years later, I still remember my surprise at the comment, wondering, “Who thinks like that? Who doesn’t want to do better by their kids?”

Well, it turns out that all of us don’t want to. We are leaving our children an incredible financial mess, and, more disturbing, we seem to be resigning ourselves to the notion that the future of our children is not what we had, that things will not be better for the next generation. And that doesn’t even take into account the huge cost of the environmental issues we have created and done little to solve.

I do not doubt the need for the care of the elderly. I think it is also appropriate to note that no generation of seniors in the history of mankind has lived as well as our current seniors (a generation that now includes me). Are there shortcomings? Yes. Are there needs? Yes. But still, things have never been better for seniors.

I do not advocate decreasing any expenditures for our seniors. That said, the time has come for seniors to stop seeking more public subsidies at the expense of the younger generations. Breaks on property taxes, more money for health and elder care, etc., need to end. If we are going to give up on leaving a better world for our kids, we can at least try to leave them something comparable to what we inherited – and to do that, we need to substantially refocus our public spending and policy decisions.

Rather than trying to figure out what more can be done for the elderly, let’s start to figure out what we can do to provide our kids something like what we got. The starting point for that effort is to collectively agree – the elderly have gotten enough.