I have nothing against old people. Someday I may be old, after all I will be turning 65 soon. So don’t let this essay keep you awake at night. Or during the day. Depends .(Double entendre intended).
I was cruising the demographic data on the US and discovered that the median age of our citizenry is about 36 years. So approximately half the population is older than 36 and half is younger than 36. So, most of the population will be living well into the 2nd half of the 21st century. Many will be living into the 22nd century. The decisions we make today will have along term impact on their quality of life. Hold that thought.
The new Congress has just appointed chairmen and chairwomen for the next session. The Senate committee chairs will determine the course of politics over the next two years. Why ? Because, unlike the rest of America, the Senate is not a democracy. The committee chairs decide which topics to investigate, which bills get discussed and which ideas go onward for a vote. In other words, they decide what the laws will be. They will decide what the laws will be and what the future looks like for those millions of Americans who will be living in the end of the 21st and start of the 22nd centuries. Hold that thought, too.
Let’s take a look at these new committee chairs. The men and women,( oops, woman) with a vision of the future. Men and woman like you and I, who have been molded by their life experiences. Brought up in a specific time and place. Influenced by the technology they used and the ideas they were exposed to during their formative years. People who have grown up in a different world than we see today…and a vastly different world than we will see in the future. Here they are.
The list of committees followed by the chairman and his or her age in 2 years time, when their chairmanship may or may not expire.
Commerce, Science and Transportation, John Thune, 55
Energy and Natural Resources, Lisa Murkowski, 59
Homeland Security, Ron Johnson, 61
Foreign Relations, Bob Corker, 64
Budget, Mike Enzi, 72
Veteran’s Affairs, John Isakson, 72
Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Lamar Alexander, 76
Appropriations, Thad Cochran, 79
Armed Services, John McCain, 80
Agriculture, Pat Roberts, 80
Environment and Public Works, James Inhofe, 81
Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Richard Shelby, 82
Finance, Orrin Hatch, 82
Judiciary, Charles Grassley, 83
Remember those thoughts I told you to hold? Some of these guys were born during the Great Depression. (No, not the Bush Great Depression, the Hoover Great Depression). Most were being rocked in their cradles before a guy named Hitler rocked Poland with the blitzkrieg. More than half were born during or before the US entrance into WW2. 6 of these 13 chair people will be 80 or older in two years. They should not even be driving a car, much less leading a lawmaking body. At least 2 knew the founding fathers personally .(OK, maybe that last one stretches the facts a little).
As I said, I have nothing against old age. And nothing against these particular fogeys. In fact, if I could get these guys into a pickup basketball game I would kick some Senate butt, no doubt. But whether Dem or GOP, isn’t it a bit disturbing to think that these octogenarians and septuagenarians hold such power over the future? Does anyone really think they are capable of devising strategies to develop sensible, realistic programs that meet the needs of the future?
The median age of the US population is 36. The leadership of the Senate is now in the hands of 80-somethings. On the negative side, they are completely out of touch with modern society and the future. On the bright side, they may never be able to find the committee rooms