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       INTRODUCTION                                              197
       UNITED STATES                                             204
       A. Higher Education Financing and Student Loan Borrowing  205
       B. The Crisis Arising from a Kafkaesque Student Loan
          System                                                 209
       STUDENT LOAN PROGRAM                                      217
       FINANCING                                                 229
VI.    CONCLUSION                                                237


Once upon a time, there was a generation of indentured servants called Millennials. They were beautiful and mysterious and clever and feckless, in the way that all young people can sometimes be. The Millennials had dreams of future careers in which they were near-mystical, all-powerful protectors of the planet, brunching on avocado toast, (1) driving in electric cars, (2) and eradicating golf courses from the earth. (3) Droves of Millennial applied to universities, believing that a diploma was a barrier to entry to advance the careers of which they dreamt. Most were confronted with a conundrum: borrow to subsidize their dream career, with decades of (potentially unaffordable) payments when they were finally employed. The Generation Who Stole the World, commonly referred to as the Baby Boomers, (4) had decided that unlimited access to debt was the most economically sound approach by which to offer equal opportunity in higher education--and the delectable irony of this tale is that the availability of debt caused (or at the very least, accompanied) the skyrocketing of costs. (5) A vicious cycle resulted in an entire generation of educated Millennials having mortgaged their futures, and visibly sagging under the weight of the chains of their debt.

This hyperbolic tale leans into stereotypes for dramatic effect, but is also strikingly accurate in its rendering of higher education financing in the United States. Millennials are the first generation in modern history to enter adulthood far poorer (6) than the immediately preceding generation. (7) It is a generation that has taken on 300% more student loan debt than its predecessor, (8) with Millennial between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-four incurring an average of $32,513 in student loan debt. (9) They are about half as likely to own a home as comparably-aged adults in 1976. (10) Fifteen percent of people aged twenty-five to thirty-four live with their parents, as compared to 10% roughly thirty years ago. (11) More than 75% of Millennials have less than $5,000 in savings, and more than 62% currently have more debt than savings. (12) Though wages for Millennials are stagnating, the Baby Boomers are living longer, retiring later, and hoarding jobs that should have long since been passed onto the younger generation. Baby Boomers reaped the benefits of a soaring market and robust safety net programs, (13) whereas Millennials are bearing the brunt of the cost of three fundamental rights skyrocketing in cost--education, housing, and health care. It has been asserted that Baby Boomers have "... turned the economy into a miserable hellscape and [Millennial are] just going to have to deal with it." (14)

The Boomer gerontocracy inherited the benefits of New Deal policies, with substantial public investment into infrastructure and education, but then gradually shifted the financing of higher education away from grants and towards student loan debt. Student loan debt in the United States is $1.56 trillion (15) and has surpassed the gross domestic product of Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland combined. (16) The issue of student loan debt burden weighs upon Millennials (17) so dramatically that nearly 70% of those polled believe that it presents more of a threat than North Korea (18)--an erratic and wildly belligerent dictatorship that is on the cusp of amassing an arsenal of long-range nuclear weapons. (19) There is basis in fact for this perception: outstanding student loan debt has almost doubled in the past decade, eclipsing all other forms of non-housing consumer debt. (20)

Student loan debt is the only type of debt that continued to rise in the United States during the Great Recession of 2008. (21) It has increased 170% over the past decade (22) and is projected to exceed $2 trillion (23) by 2021 or 2022 (depending on the source). (24) To the extent that rapid increases in debt are a red flag of a marketplace in trouble, (25) there are clear signs that the dot-com and mortgage bubbles may soon be followed by a student loan debt bubble. (26)

Congress seems committed to its traditional, politically popular path of supporting student loan borrowing without limits, (27) the liquidity in the marketplace is doing nothing to limit upward prices on the cost of tuition, and the younger generation may be borrowing more debt than they will be able to reasonably service given projected incomes. (28)

If we conceive of ourselves as belonging to an intergenerational continuum in which the future matters, it is imperative that we develop sound and sustainable policies to facilitate higher education. Forward-looking higher-education policy must be rooted in notions of intergenerational equity: a society is intergenerationally just when each generation contributes its fair share towards succeeding generations, avoids serious harm to future generations, remains conscious of the needs that may exist in the future. Under the stewardship of the Baby Boomer generation, the national debt has ballooned from under $1 trillion to more than $20 trillion (with projections that the deficit will grow an additional $9.4 trillion over the next decade). (29) Those parents who must borrow to assist with undergraduate tuition average $16,100 in debt in 2014, as compared to an inflation-adjusted $5,200 in 1990. (30)

Among the class of 2018, 66% and 75% of students from public and private schools, respectively, carried student loan debt--with a mean balance of $25,550 (public, non-profit colleges) and $32,300 (private, non-profit colleges). (31) According to projections in this article, assuming the same steady rate of growth from 2004 to 2019, outstanding student loan debt will exceed $13.5 trillion within the next twenty years, far outpacing the projected growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the United States. (32) Those crafting public policy have implicitly shirked away from notions of intergenerational sustainability in their management of higher education financing--with the (perhaps unintentional) result that higher education financing is operating on Ponzi principles. (33)

The good news is that time is on the side of Millennial and Generation Z. (34)The Baby Boomers are staring down the inevitability of death in relatively short order. (35) The largest intergenerational wealth transfer in the history of the world will occur over the next three decades, with an estimated $30 trillion passing from Boomers in the United States to their heirs. (36) With this transfer of wealth, we stand on the precipice of a "lawmaking moment," in which the Boomers may accept responsibility (an optimistic hope for the future) or be held accountable (the more pragmatic one) for the economic result of their governance: broadening of the estate and gift transfer taxes with funds earmarked and dedicated to fixing the broken system of higher education. (37)

There is a glaring gap in academic literature with regard to the choice to primarily lean upon student loan indebtedness to finance higher education, the unsustainability of such an approach, and the intergenerational equity of shifting debt from this generation to the next. This article fills that gap by considering the way in which debt is used (and potentially abused) as a common pool resource and that the management of a common pool resource arguably carries with it intergenerational equity obligations. An overview of student loan borrowing generally, and the student loan debt crisis specifically, is provided in Section 1. Section II considers the way in which student loan debt is functioning as common resource property, and the obligation to sustainability that attaches to any such property. The notion of an intergenerational Ponzi scheme facilitated by those with political power (specifically, the Boomers) is explored in Section III, along with a discussion of important ideas such as elderly wealth privilege and intergenerational dependence. This article is the first part of a two part series that proposes a way forward with a creative solution--the repurposing of the gratuitous tax system such that the revenues are earmarked and dedicated to the retooling of higher education finance in the United States. (38)


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people graduating with a college degree has increased sevenfold over the past seventy-five years. (39) While only 5% of the population was degreed in 1940, this number increased to roughly one-third of the population by 2015. (40) Some believe that the inability to meet increasing demand for higher education has resulted in a supply and demand imbalance that has caused prices to escalate at an alarming rate. (41) Student loan debt is the primary way through which American students finance higher education. (42) With college enrollment increasing 32% between 2000 and 2011, there will be a commensurate increase in the dollars borrowed. (43) Section I provides an overview of the rising student loan debt problem in the United States.

A. Higher Education Financing and Student Loan Borrowing

In November 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Higher Education Act into law--a piece of landmark legislation that has served as the cornerstone for affordability and access to higher education for half a century of students. (44) To the extent that norms are embedded within the law, the Higher Education Act symbolizes an acknowledgement that access to higher education needed to extend beyond veterans. Although investment in education theoretically produces an income stream sufficient to cover the cost of investment, a liquidity problem arises for lower- and middle-income Americans: educational expenses arise before the individual has earned the income to pay for them. (45) Accessibility to higher education requires that the government step forward to bridge this gap. For half a century, there has been no significant change to the way in which the government has structured its primary support of higher education financing: delivery of aid through grants, loans, (46) and tax benefits. (47) With that said, federal assistance over the past two decades has largely shifted from grants to loans. (48)

Although the use of debt was initially conceived to supplement means-tested grants, those grant amounts have not kept pace with swiftly rising tuition. Loans serve to backfill a growing chasm--evolving into the primary mechanism by which higher education is now financed. Though federal expenditures on Pell Grants increased from $6.1 billion (1977-1978) to $28.2 billion (2017-2018), after adjusting for inflation, this accounts for only a 10% increase of investment over four decades (49)--a span of time that has seen a 280% surge in enrollment. (50) It is unsurprising, therefore, that tuition and fees grossly outpace Pell grant awards: roughly one-third of undergraduate students receive Pell grants, with an average award of $3,700 and a maximum of $6,095 (for 2018-2019), with aid limited to twelve semesters (or six years). (51) Pell grants currently cover roughly 25% of average college costs, compared to 66% in the 1980s. (52) Assisting low-income students through need-based grants and middle-income students through student loans (53) has largely been subsumed by a system where the vast majority (71%) of students graduating from four-year colleges have relied upon debt. (54)

An extremely important policy shift comes in the form of state disinvestment from higher education. State funding for higher education remains substantially below pre-2008 Great Recession levels more than a decade later. (55) In one study, 45 of 49 states spent less per student in 2018 than 2008--and in 9 states, per student funding decreased by more than 30%. (56) Federal support of higher education has been shown to be particularly important because of the elasticity of state support: (57) if faced with a shortfall, states are inclined to retrench support of higher education through budget cuts. (58) In 2017-2018, for the first time in history, public colleges and universities in most states received their lion's share of funding from tuition rather than government appropriations. This serves as an important line of demarcation signaling a change in higher education funding that cannot be dismissed. (59) State disinvestment in higher education correlates to tuition and fees escalating at an alarming rate (see Chart One, below). (60) In 1989-1990, the average cost of tuition, fees, and room and board at a public four-year institution was $4,979 and a private four-year institution averaged $12,348. (61) In 1999-2000, these costs rose to $8,066 for public institutions and $21,423 for private institutions. (62) Between 2004-2005 and 2014-2015, costs have risen 33% for public institutions ($16,188) and 26% for private institutions ($41,970). (63) Commensurate with rising tuition and fees, there is an increase in outstanding student loan debt. (64) In late 2011, the media shocked the public with the news that outstanding student loan debt surpassed the $1 trillion mark. (65) In 2019, student loan debt in the United States is approaching $1.6 trillion, (66) with interest of roughly $90 billion per year. (67) The average class of 2018 graduate has a student loan balance of $29,800. (68)

Although the United States has shifted to a debt-for-diploma system, there has not been a lot of contemplation with regard to the way in which a debt-based system will impact students by class and race. (69) The U.S. Department of Education does not systematically collect data on the race of borrowers, which makes the study of student loan debt borrowing problematic in the context of the racial wealth gap. (70) Data that has been collected demonstrates that student loan debt is highly stratified along race and class lines. (71) At time of graduation, black borrowers owe $7,400 more on average than their white peers. (72) Four years after graduation, these black graduates carry nearly $25,000 more in student loan debt than their white counterparts: $52,726 for the former versus $28,006. (73) Further, lower-income and minority students are more likely to leave school without earning a credential. (74) It is essential to collect and study data on the use and impact of student loan debt by race and gender in part because debt receives its own special treatment under the law. Basic protections available on other forms of consumer debt are unavailable for student loan borrowers: no statute of limitations apply; fair debt collection practices do not apply; it is nearly impossible to declare bankruptcy. (75)

B. The Crisis Arising from a Kafkaesque Student Loan System

Only hindsight will make clear whether a debt crisis looms on the horizon or if we are instead in its midst. There are two areas of concern with regard to student loan debt in the United States that can no longer be ignored: the accelerated growth of outstanding student loan debt and the rate of default on repayment. (76)

Student loan debt first exceeded credit card debt in 2010, (77) and now accounts for $521 billion more in debt than the total U.S. credit card debt. (78) Three charts are set forth below. Outstanding debt reached $1.46 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2018 and $1.49 trillion in the first quarter of 2019. (79) Chart Two illustrates that this balance is rising at a meteoric rate--increasing by $79 billion in 2018 alone. (80) The same rate of growth in student loan debt over the next twenty years will result in an outstanding student loan balance of $13.63 trillion in 2039. (81) Chart Three tracks the steadily increasing rates of student loan borrowing in the United States from 2004 to 2019. (82) This equates to an average increase of 11% annually in outstanding student loan debt, as compared to an average increase (1948 to 2019) of 3.4% in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the U.S. (83) Chart Four tracks the percentage of current student loan debt of U.S. GDP from 2007 to 2018. (84)

Reliance on continued borrowing is likely to collide at some point with the issue of default--a topic relatively ignored by popular media in the context of student loan debt. The government is presenting repayment data in such a way that (whether intentional or unintentional is admittedly unclear) the student loan program appears more successful than the reality. In January 2017, the Department of Education released a memorandum admitting that "technical programming error" caused student loan repayment rates to be inflated for 99.8% of all colleges and trade schools in the United States, implicitly underplaying student loan default rates. (85) This is not the only instance in which default rates have been grossly misrepresented: the Federal Reserve Bank of New York issued a November 2012 quarterly report representing that only 11% of all student loan balances are ninety or more days delinquent, (86) while a footnote at the bottom of the quarterly clarifies that the delinquency rate is "likely" understated and may be "roughly" twice as high. (87)

The moral of this story is that debt is finite, and the amount of student loan debt that may be issued by the federal government is inherently constrained by an upward limit defined by rate of default. Although the exact rate of default that will collapse the system is uncertain, trends with regard to current rates of default may shed light on the upward limit sooner rather than later. Defaults have increased by 50% since 2006, which is notable given that credit card and auto loan defaults did not similarly increase. (88) A report released by the Department of Education in October 2017 provides data accumulated over twenty years (for 1996 graduates in repayment in 2016), with a startling outcome if trends from the 1996 cohort are applied to the 2004 cohort of graduates: as many as 40% of borrowers may default by 2023. (89)

The U.S. government plays a dominant role in educational loans, accounting for almost 85% of student debt (90)--and thus, this governmental debt that is particularly problematic if the country can no longer sustain servicing due to defaults. The threat from this type of collapse is larger than merely one to higher education financing: we live in an increasingly networked economy with properties of its own that is defined both by the resources that comprise the system and the individual consumers that are its members. In an increasingly networked global economy, the failure of one part of the economy has the potential to seriously impact other parts in unintended ways. (91)

Income-based repayment plans have deluded some critics into thinking that there is no student loan debt crisis because numerous options exist to assist students with repayment and relieve any crushing burden. (92) Unfortunately, numerous obstacles limit the accessibility of income-based repayment plans and only 28% of the 23 million borrowers who have entered repayment are enrolled. (93) First, these plans are extraordinarily complex: there are five different income-based repayment plans, some available for certain loans but not all, with differing rules if one is unmarried. (94) Second, some borrowers fear the potentially staggering tax bill that awaits when any remaining balance is discharged at the end of the payment term. Third, borrowers must reapply every year or risk falling out of the program and potentially dealing with a huge balance to repay because of negative amortization. (95) A staggering percentage of borrowers who apply for income-based repayment programs quickly fall out of the programs when they fail to recertify their annual income. (96) Finally, only the terms written into the loan contract are binding.

Borrowers worry that programs will not deliver as promised and they will end up in a worse position.

As to the latter concern, there is valid reason for borrowers to be skeptical that a loan repayment program will not deliver as promised. Borrowers under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program became eligible for loan forgiveness in October 2017. (97) As of June 2018, 29,000 of 33,000 applications for loan forgiveness had been processed and only 96 had been approved--translating to an approval rate of 0.33%. (98) Further, the Trump Administration's Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposed both the elimination of subsidized federal student loans as well as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. (99)


The term "common pool resource" or "common property resource" (CPR) is best defined by Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom as "a natural or man-made resource system that is sufficiently large as to make it costly (but not impossible) to exclude potential beneficiaries from obtaining benefits from its use." (100) Such resources are diverse with economic, environmental and/or social impacts--breathable air, clean water, forests, grazing systems, wildlife, urban commons, government fiscal sustainability, (101) and information commons. (102) Further, interdisciplinary researchers are finding interesting results when applying CPR analysis to new or previously unrecognized common pool resources: surfers' waves, campus commons, public radio, public parking, the Internet, and cultural treasures. (103) Section II of this article strains against traditional notions by suggesting that student loan debt in the United States has evolved into a CPR, as a basis for considering questions of obligation to future generations in the management of that system. (104)

As scholars struggle with the optimal way in which to balance and allocate goods among users, common property resource theory (or common pool resource theory) offers a framework by which common or public goods may be defined (albeit imprecisely) and leaned upon to call for cooperation to facilitate the management of the public or common good. (105) The past two decades have seen the rise of interdisciplinary researchers applying CPR analysis to new or previously ignored common property resources, (106) e.g. the Internet. (107) Common property resource theory identifies two important characteristics of common property resources: openness and subtractability. (108) The openness of a common property resource references the difficulty of excluding access to the resource. Subtractability refers to the fact that one user's appropriation of a resource limits capacity or quality for other users. (109) The crisis of resource loss is inevitable because individuals have no incentive to restrain or limit use when inadequate mechanisms of control exist, bringing to mind the "tragedy of the commons." (110) Controlling against resource loss requires an imposition of some external authority--presumably resulting in development of prescriptions governing appropriation and optimizing use.

The federal student loan debt regime in the United States has evolved into a common resource system funded by pooled government resources, with resource units (individual student loans) individually owned by appropriators. (111) In 2010, the Obama Administration eliminated the 45-year old federal guaranteed loan program that enabled private lenders to offer student loans at low interest rates. (112) The federal government historically lent roughly one-third of these loans through its direct-lending program, (113) and as a result of this change, started lending 100% of subsidized, government-guaranteed loans. (114) This shift in the student loan debt system recasts the system in the United States as a CPR, in much the same way that government spending (generally) has been acknowledged as a CPR.

The Federal student loan debt system possesses both of the important characteristics of common property resources. Although there are qualifications to apply for a federal student loan, the system is extraordinarily accessible: (115) a prospective borrower must have a social security number, be a citizen (or eligible non-citizen), have a high school diploma (or the equivalent), enroll in an eligible (accredited) school, maintain a 2.0 GPA, complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, be in good standing with other federal aid, and enroll as a part- or full-time student. (116) There is difficulty with excluding access to the resource because to do so means denying access to higher education for many. In fact, the broad availability of this debt has caused it to grow almost incomprehensibly (117) large: $1.56 trillion held by 45 million borrowers. (118) And while the enormity of the student loan debt in the United States creates the (almost delusional) impression that resources are infinite, unchecked systemic growth will eventually cause the system to collapse on itself. A dilemma is presented as to the appropriation capacity of the federal student loan debt system: too many uncertainties exist to gauge exact appropriation capacity and the point at which overexploitation has occurred, and overexploitation may only be obvious in hindsight. (119) This lends itself to an argument that growth of the system should be both restrained and cautious.

In this way, federal student loan debt in the U.S. resembles the classic tragedy of the commons: (120) most users understand that the existing way of using student loan debt may eventually collapse the system, but no one reduces use. The federal system of student loan debt is a CPR that may be used by successive generations, provided that there is restraint in exploitation and use is sustainable. There is some scholarly debate as to whether there is any legal or moral obligation to future generations, simply because not everyone is moved by the plight of others (121)--and certainly, much of the discussion in this article will be meaningless to those who subscribe to the belief that consumption without regard to sustainability is justified, so long as the legal rights of the already-born are not compromised. For those who believe that future generations are included within our moral community, intergenerational equity should play an important role in the management and regulation of a CPR system. While not everyone is moved by the plight of others, a norm of equality must implicitly accompany the responsibility of stewardship, with notions of custodial duty and/or fiduciary duty guiding use. (122)


States continue to slash funding to colleges and universities (123) and Federal Student Aid debt accounts for 80% of the actual fees and tuition received by schools. (124) An entire generation is caught in the wake of what may prove to be a failed experiment: facilitating access to higher education through almost unfettered access to government-provided debt. Student loan borrowers have attended college (as they were encouraged to do), borrowed to pay for college without being overly concerned about cost (because they were told that it would ultimately be worth it), and are now saddled with sizeable monthly payments that are negatively impacting transitions to adulthood, including homeownership, marriage, procreation, and retirement saving.

In some sense, a generational betrayal has occurred. (125) Although a growing number of future jobs will require college-educated workers, public investment into higher education is now primarily offered through the mortgaging of a student's future. An overhaul of the current system should be rooted in concepts of intergenerational responsibility or equity--a multifaceted notion that touches upon issues such as elderly wealth privilege and intergenerational dependence. (126) It is the idea that human needs should be met equitably and without passing the bill onto a future generation that will be forced to either sacrifice its own needs or continue to kick the can down the road. (127) Section III explores these ideas.

It imposes a profound obligation upon us that the decisions made today have a butterfly effect (128) upon generations that have not yet been conceived. (129) What is the debt that we owe to these future generations? There are a number of priorities (i.e. national security, stable government, affordable healthcare, thriving economy), but this article focuses upon the need for equal access to higher education and the use of debt as a common pool resource to provide access to education. Access to higher education is considered to be a pillar of an egalitarian society and the buttress of national democracy, and it is an initiative that receives broad bipartisan support. The demand for a college degree has increased exponentially, (130) and it is estimated that men and women with bachelors' degrees earn $900,000 and $630,000 more, respectively, over a lifetime than only a high school graduate. (131) And though the rewards associated with college education are ideologically linked to the idealistic vision of the American Dream, societal norms seem to be shifting: credential inflation (the demand for degreed candidates for jobs that do not require college-level skills) (132) has become rampant (133) and it would seem that the lack of degree attainment is already resulting in varying degrees of penalization. (134)

Three important considerations may be distilled from economic literature exploring the limitations on intergenerational problems, each of which bear upon this discussion: First, it must be implicitly recognized that both benefits and costs inure to the benefit of and at the expense of future generations; second, a commitment to equity is one to sustainability--and a nondeteriorated system of higher education financing must be passed from one generation to the next; and finally, the commitment to intergenerational sustainability must be baked into the fiber of institutional decision-making for a change of design to be enduring. (135) The first two considerations will be explored in Section III, with the latter consideration addressed in Section V of this article.

There are externalities between and among generations and one legal particularity that may not be possible to resolve: the unborn have no legal rights and are unable to participate in a political process. (136) This is not a market failure--there is no market for those who are not yet born, and consequently no way to insure against loss from mismanagement, misfortune, negligence, or bad decision-making. (137) The fact that there is (from a litigation-mindset) no enforceable legal entitlement, nor is there (from a transactional-mindset) a way in which downside risk can be managed through a device such as insurance, does not mean that there is no basis upon which to impose a legal obligation or duty. There is no compelling cultural, contractual, moral, philosophical or deontological basis upon which to legitimize the idea that present resources belong without limit or obligation to those presently in power. (138)

Understanding that debt has power as a collective or common pool resource, as discussed in Section II, it becomes useful to pinpoint the starting point at which a shift occurred in higher education financing and abuse of that resource may have begun. The transition to leveraging debt as the primary mechanism for financing higher education in the United States arguably started in 1981, as state governments began reducing their level of commitment to higher education. (139) State reduction in funding started in the early 1980s and continued for three and a half decades to present, with "the result ... that state funding for higher education sits currently around 48% to 50% below where it was in 1981 in state tax effort..." (140) As a consequence of reduced state support, the federal government has evolved into the primary source of funding for higher education. (141) Studies estimate that as much as 80% of the net tuition and fee increases from 2001 to 2011 were the result of reduced state support of higher education. (142) State funding for higher education remains (on average) 23% lower than before the 2008 recession. A vicious cycle of cause and effect is created: as state funding is reduced, (144) a school must depend upon revenue from tuition and fees which inevitably increase, causing students to lean with increased reliance upon Federal Student Aid. (145)

All of this is symptomatic of a far larger problem: a shift in ideology. The demographic and financial landscape of higher education has changed drastically over the past several decades, and that change has produced a measurable impact on outcomes, or specifically, global statistics relative to the United States and college attainment. (146) Across all OECD countries, 30% of the expenditure on higher education comes from private sources--as compared to 62% in the United States. (147) Of total expenditures on higher educations, U.S. households are responsible for 45%. (148) Of the percentage of twenty-five to thirty-four year-olds who are expected to complete a university education, the United States has dropped to 14th of 28 with 38% (which falls beneath the OECD average of 39%). (149) Interestingly, however, the percentage of fifty-five to sixty-four year-olds with college degrees in the U.S. ranks first in the same category. (150) This, of course, is the Baby Boomer generation.


"[H]uman nature is such that it cannot be indifferent even to the most remote epoch which may eventually affect our species, so long as this epoch can be expected with certainty." (151) One may reject the idea of intergenerational equity because of a personal devotion to solipsism or due to its lack of theoretical tidiness--but rejecting the idea of intergenerational equity means accepting that present interest holders have dispensation to use and exhaust resources as they see fit, without boundary or limitation. (152) And that would be absurd. It is far more logical to accept that there is an implicit moral agreement between generations, and there is therefore some level of responsibility when a present generation has disregarded the fair treatment of future generations for its own benefit. (153) Given the imminent threat of a student loan debt crisis, and the overlap of future and present generations within the same CPR system (in the form of new, younger borrowers being supported, in a sense, by older borrowers in repayment), the management of the federal student loan program must be shifted from an intragenerational approach focused upon immediate need to an intergenerational approach focused upon long-term sustainability. Section IV considers the responsibility of the generation who acted as steward of our current system, and the appropriate way in which costs of shifting to a sustainable system are fairly allocated.

A de facto system of trusteeship or stewardship exists within the political system on matters of public policy, usually arising out of affection and like impulses, because the older, ruling generations would like to provide for the prosperity and well-being of the younger generations. (154) There are no binding rules or mechanisms of action with regard to this implicit system of intergenerational equity--rather, it is a system that is usually taken for granted. (155) The passing of a fiscal burden from one generation to another is often judged to be fair rather than selfish. (156) A dilemma arises in the following circumstance: when a trustee or steward shapes unsustainable and inequitable policy either because of an unwillingness to bear the costs of responsible policy-making or an obliviousness as to the world outside of self.

The stewards of public policy in the United States since the late 1980s have been the Baby Boomer generation, a population wave of 76 million people (or 25% of the population) born between 1946 and 1964. (157) Even within this broadly defined generation exists a gap: first-wave Boomers were born from 1946 to 1954 (the Vietnam generation of the 1960s) and the second-wave was born from 1955 to 1964 (the "me" generation). (158) Every generation is broad and diverse with idiosyncratic traits and commonalities, and the Boomer generation is characterized by a high degree of malleable moralism, the pragmatic effect of which is morality redefined and shaped to suit the needs of the generation. (159) The Boomers reached adulthood in a time of unprecedented privilege, and the argument follows that this generation grew into one wholly obsessed with itself: (160) self-absorbed, self-indulgent, self-interested, self-aggrandizing. (161)

The legacy of the Boomers will objectively be a mixed bag. On the one hand, diversity has been embraced (occasionally, certainly not always) in more than a "tokenism" manner (162) thanks to the Civil Rights and women's movements. (163) On the other hand, there was the rise of disco, the empowerment of Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform, (164) the fetishization of trickle-down economics, (165) a fondness for debt leveraging, and the regular use of temporary-effect legislation to circumvent budget rules. Perhaps the most notable legacy is that regardless of the cause--silence, selfishness, laziness, ignorance, self-interest--the Boomers left succeeding generations holding the proverbial bag. Long-term changes need to occur to divert several economic crises and to meet the care needs of the aging Baby Boomer population, and Congress is an adept player at kicking the can down the proverbial road. (166) Congress has not passed a comprehensive budget on time since 1994, and there are now more than twenty registered lobbyists for every member of Congress to protect the interests of high-net worth clients. (167) Social Security and Medicare accounted for 42% of Federal program expenditures in 2016, and both expenditures will grow in excess of the GDP growth through 2030, due to the aging Boomer population. (168) Social Security costs will exceed revenue by 2021 and backup funds will be depleted by 2034. (169) It is projected that Medicare funds will be entirely exhausted in 2029. (170) The U.S. government's public debt now exceeds $22 trillion, which is the highest that it has ever been. (171) It will continue to exponentially grow, and over the next decade, annual deficits and national debt will be incurred at rates not seen since the 1940s on the heels of World War II. (172) Student loan debt more than tripled over the brief span of fourteen years (2004 to 2018), now exceeds $1.5 trillion, and continues to grow $29 billion per fiscal quarter. (173)

There is an interesting correlation between the rise of political control for the Baby Boomer generation, the ideological shift to reliance upon student loan debt, and also the sharp drop of the United States in college attainment among OECD countries. Reductions in state funding began to occur around 1981. By 1982, Baby Boomers were in absolute control of the electorate and gained official control of the government before the early 1990s. (174) Boomers have served as President since 1993 with the election of Bill Clinton. (175) The median Senator and Representative continue to be Boomers after the 2018 midterm elections (176)--though the election reduced Boomer control in the House from 62.1% to 53.9%. (177)

Crafting a durable plan to address the student loan crisis will undoubtedly require more than reallocation of existing revenue, and a decision must be made as to where to source such new revenue. It is therefore necessary to unpack important drivers that shaped the tax system under the management of the Baby Boomers. The Boomers were raised by parents and grandparents who paid taxes at considerably higher levels, in terms of assessed tax rate, as indicated by a red arrow on Chart Five that marks the time at which Boomers gained political power. (178)

Though effective and marginal rates do not always track one another, top 1% of earners paid 40-45% of pre-income income in taxes as compared to 30-35% today. (179) The statutory corporate tax rate was reduced to 34% (1987-1993) and then 35% (1993-2017) from its 1986 high of 51%, (180) and remained at that level until the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (181) reduced the marginal statutory rate from 35% down to 21%. (182) In 1979, corporate taxes as a percentage of GDP were 2.6% (183) as compared to an estimated 1.1% for 2019 and 1.2% for 2020. (184) At a time when Boomers started approaching retirement age and heavily investing in the stock market, tax rates on dividend income were substantially reduced through the Jobs and Growth Tax Reconciliation Act of 2003, precipitated by the desire to reduce tax-based distortions in the allocation of capital. (185) And of course, now that Boomers have reached retirement age and are engaging in estate planning, there has been a (perhaps coincidental, perhaps not) gutting of the gratuitous transfer tax system, as demonstrated in Chart Six (below).
Chart 6. A Brief History of Rates and Exemption Amounts (186)

                           THRESHOLD     #OF

2001  $675,000       55%         $3 m    50,500   $23.7 billion
2006        $2 m     46%         $2 m    22,798   $25.8 billion
2007        $2 m     45%         $1.5 m  17.408   $23.69 billion
2008        $2 m     45%         $1.5 m  15,100   $18.9 billion
2009        $3.5 m   45%         $1.5 m   5,700   $13.6 billion
2011        $5 m     35%   $500,000       4,400   $10.9 billion
2012        $5.12 m  35%   $500,000       4,100   $12 billion
2013        $5.25 m  40%         $1 m     4,700   $16.6 billion
2018       $11.18 m  40%   Flat Rate      1,900   $14.9 billion

Baby Boomers have positioned themselves as the wealthiest generation in the history of the world and are predicted to remain that way through at least 2030. (187) The interesting question is: how will we define the legacy of the Boomer generation? A culture of tax reduction now exists and the government survives by leveraging. (188) The U.S. surplus became a deficit in 2001 and the country has continually operated at a deficit over the past two decades. Recent tax changes through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 will perpetuate the deficit and add roughly one trillion dollars per year for the foreseeable future. (189) The total U.S. national debt eclipsed the gross domestic product of the country for the first time in history in 2014, (190) and the total U.S. national debt exceeds $22 trillion in 2019. (191) This figure does not include legal entitlements such as Social Security payments, which is a pay-as-you-go system and not treated as a debt from a bookkeeping perspective. (192)

There is no question that the Baby Boomer generation has profited greatly from access to political power, regardless of whether such benefit was the product of negligence, recklessness, intentionality, or fortune. (192) The concept of intergenerational equity in the context of higher education finance in the United States is ubiquitous--it is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. (194) Examining the problem of higher education policy (or specifically, student loan debt) though a lens of intergenerational equity is unlikely to satisfy an academic desire for precision, but implicitly focuses attention on the important issue of sustainable consumption and an implicit compact that exists with future generations. And it is clear that the present system is not sustainable. It is also troubling that the Baby Boomer generation enjoyed lower cost post-secondary education, while also mortgaging the future of the next generation through a deepening reliance upon student loan debt. (195)

Notions of intergenerational equity require a wholesale deconstruction and reconstruction of the financing of higher education and the student loan debt system. Unlimited reliance upon debt to provide access to higher education failed, and redesign of higher education financing should be a pressing political issue. Given the scale of the system, such a redesign will be less of a remodeling and more a gutting--and it will undoubtedly require dedicated revenue. A better, more efficient system must be cohesive. There are two topics that are central to a cohesive and comprehensive redesign of our system of higher education financing, and are different sides of the same coin: (1) the source of funding or revenue to facilitate change, and, (2) the structure of the proposed change. The source of funding to drive significant policy change is often dismissed as peripheral to the more exciting discussion of the change itself, which is in and of itself an approach that must stop. It is not sustainable to add dollars to the national deficit. Though some revenue may be found through budget cuts, it is unlikely that budget cuts will be sufficient. A redesign of the system of higher education financing requires dedicated revenue in the form of increased taxes. (196) This article will tackle the former and briefly discuss the latter.


There is no greater investment that may be made into the future of this nation than education. (197) Equal access to affordable higher education is a thread in the tapestry of the American dream. The federal government has assumed administrative responsibility for facilitating higher education and occupies a primary support role in facilitating this dream through federal student loan programs. Although debt can be an important tool to remediate inequality, inadequate oversight and regulation of a common pool resource (in the form of government-issued student loan debt) may result in an imminent collapse or crisis. All possible solutions depend not only upon a reallocation of funds presently dedicated to the funding of higher education, but an increased commitment and additional spending. As discussed in Section IV, comprehensive reform requires a sustainable proposal as well as a source of revenue. Section V focuses upon the latter--and proposes a revenue source that is both pragmatic and durable.

Three institutions facilitate intergenerational transfers: the family, the financial market, and the state. (198) Although there should be some justification or basis upon which the state intervenes, the application of accounting principles to produce an intergenerational balance sheet is generally acknowledged to be a failure. (199) The practical difficulty is that the ledger itself would likely be as enormous as the subject that it attempts to synthesize, with inevitable disagreement as to the way in which benefits and burdens are allocated. (200) The more arbitrary the lines, the more necessary rough conclusions--and with a macro issue, the result can be distortive and unreliable. (201) Arbitrary lines or rough conclusions should not be enough, however, to stall problems from being addressed. In the absence of an objective framework within which government action may occur, the following principles should guide action with regard to the management of common pool resources by the state: (1) do no harm, and, (2) facilitate innovation or change in the present when it is clear that present practices are unsustainable.

The first principle may be further defined using three important principles of intergenerational equity: conservation of options, conservation of quality, and conservation of access. (202) No CPR should be used in such a way that the diversity of options are exhausted or limited for future generations, overall quality should not be impacted, and the levels of access today should not limit or deplete access for the future. (203) Applying these principles to the management of the federal student loan program, it is fairly clear that what was once a challenge has progressed to a crisis. Student loan debt more than tripled over the brief span of fourteen years (2004 to 2018), now exceeds $1.5 trillion, and continues to grow $29 billion per fiscal quarter. (204) The extent of the crisis remains unclear: too many uncertainties exist to determine what the exact appropriation capacity is of the student loan debt program and at what point overexploitation will occur. There is no question, however, that debt is finite. Arguably, the government has leaned on the use of debt in higher education financing to an extent that is not sustainable, and the present rates of growth raise the very real possibility of collapse. (205) Conservation of quality, access, and options have all been compromised, and the federal student loan program has run afoul of the first principal of "do not harm." Focus therefore shifts to the second principle: the state is justified in facilitating innovation or change to improve the use of the CPR.

This article proposes that the appropriate revenue source for comprehensive reform of higher education financing is an intergenerational transfer accomplished by taxation. The largest wealth transfer in the history of the world, with the passing of the Baby Boomer generation, creates an opportunity to raise revenue through a broadening of the tax already imposed on gratuitous transfers. The fact that the burden of the tax will largely fall upon the aging Baby Boomer generation is not a punitive targeting, but instead, an incidence that naturally arises from a tax imposed at death. This incidence is not offended by notions of equity because the Boomer generation has amassed substantial wealth as beneficiaries of the current system, regardless of whether or not they are culpable as trustees of creating a system specifically designed to benefit themselves. While some type of intergenerational breach may important, discussing a breach through the lens of blame obscures the point--it does not really matter who is at fault, only that there is a generational imbalance that needs to be reset. (206) The stewards of public policy must shape solutions that do not kick the proverbial ball further down the road, shifting the problem onto future generations.

(202) Edith Brown Weiss, Our Rights and Obligations to Future Generations for the Environment, 84 AM. J. INT'L L. 198, 202 (1990).

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, effective January 1, 2018, did not repeal the gratuitous transfer tax system. (207) It did, however, substantially gut the system: the estate of a dead adult American is 95% less likely to pay gratuitous transfer tax than it was in the 1960s. (208) The almost-doubled exemption amount permits the first $11.18 million of an individual's lifetime gifts or asset transfers at death to occur without being subject to the tax. As a result of this amendment to TCJA, it is estimated that only 1,700 estates out of 2.7 million deaths will be subject to gratuitous transfer taxation in the United States. (209) This doubling of exemption amounts is effective through 2025, at which time amounts will revert to pre-2018 levels unless extended by Congress. The doubled amount is good news even for those who have no plans on dying over the next eight years: gifts made under today's higher exemption amount will retain their benefit even if exemption amounts revert to pre-2018 levels. (210)

It is impossible to ignore the opportunities arising from the passing of the Baby Boomer generation--the largest wealth transfer in the history of the world. To that end, the Democratic contenders for the presidency have not failed to notice that a lawmaking moment arises with the passing of a generation: taxation at death is arguably one of the least distortive taxes that may be imposed, in that the incentive to work during lifetime is not impacted by taxation at death. (211) Proposed by 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the Sensible Estate Tax Act of 2016 would return estate and gift tax to the levels that were in effect in 2009 (see Chart 1, below), meaning $3.5 million lifetime exemption (or $7 million jointly) and a 45% marginal rate. (212) It was estimated that Clinton's proposal would generate an additional $161 billion of revenue over a 10-year budget window (or an average of $16.1 billion of additional revenue per year). In 2015, Senator Bernie Sanders proposed the Responsible Estate Tax Act, which similarly reduced the lifetime exemption amount to $3.5 million, but implemented a top marginal rate of 55% for estates valued over $50 million and a surtax of 10% on the estate of billionaires (for a total of 65%). The legislation also closed a number of available loopholes, including tax breaks for dynasty trusts and grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs). (213) It was projected that this legislation would raise an additional $243 to $288 billion of revenue over a 10-year budget window. (214) In his second attempt at winning the presidency, Bernie Sanders proposed a piece of legislation in January 2019 titled "For the 99.8% Act." (215) This legislation includes the same reduction of the lifetime exemption ($3.5 million) with rates up to 77%--and Sanders' staffers estimating that the legislation would raise $315 billion in revenue over the next ten years. (216)

Two additional proposals are unique in the fact that each broadens the estate and gift tax with the goal of utilizing revenues for a specific purpose. 2020 presidential candidate Cory Booker has proposed that the estate and gift tax rates and exemption be returned to 2009 levels, with the revenues being dedicated to fund "American Opportunity Accounts" for every American child. (217) Candidate Elizabeth Warren would similarly adjust the lifetime exemption amount down to the 2009 level of $3.5 million, along with adjusting tax rates up to 55%, 60%, and 65%, to advance affordable housing initiatives. (218)

All of the proposed amendments of the gratuitous transfer tax system have incorporated essentially the same elements: lower the applicable exemption amount, adjust rates, and close existing loopholes. And while all of the proposals to broaden the gratuitous tax system differ slightly as to the changes that would be made and the resulting revenue increase, any of the Democratic proposals would result in a not-insignificant increase in revenue that may be used to shape impactful change. For the sake of discussion, using estimated figures, consider a redesign of the estate and gift tax that (a) closes the gap between theoretically taxable wealth versus wealth that is actually reported, by closing

major tax loopholes, and (b) adjusts the lifetime exclusion amount and tax rates to realistic levels. The 2019 lifetime exclusion amount is $ 11,400,000 (or $22,800,000 for married taxpayers)--which interestingly, seems intentionally designed to impose $0 in taxation until a taxpayer has reached entry into the top 0.01% of wealth. (219) If this amount is lowered to $1.5 million (or $3 million for married taxpayers), the estate and gift tax would apply to those taxpayers in the top 5% in terms of wealth--a cohort with a wealth threshold of $1,207,000 and average household wealth of $4,277,897.

Assuming that the estate and gift tax is redesigned so as to apply to the top 5% of households as measured in terms of wealth, there are 15.695 million households potentially impacted. (220) Total household wealth in 2012 in the United States was estimated at $55,163 trillion, (221) and the top 5% of households hold roughly 61.8% of wealth, (222) or an estimated $34.09 trillion. Roughly 42% of households in this wealth range are over the age of 65, (223) which extrapolates out to 6,591,900 households. For the sake of computation, this hypothetical will lean on two assumptions: (a) a mortality rate of 2% per year (224) (or 131,838 deaths), and (b) an estimate that 10% of households in this range are legally divorced or never married. (225) The amount of theoretically taxable wealth for only the deaths among those 65 and older would be $188,252,884,686 (after applying the reduced lifetime exclusion of $1.5m/$3m). Applying a 45% flat tax rate, this translates to $84,713 billion per year in tax revenue. And while adjusting tax rates and exemption amounts is relatively simple, the task of closing loopholes is daunting--by way of example, the notorious GRAT loophole (226) that has allowed an estimated $ 100 billion to pass without taxation since 2000. (227)

There is, however, an obstacle to this idea that may be insurmountable. Tax crusaders have fueled the antipathy of Americans towards the tax that has been labelled "the death tax. (228) The label of "death tax" is a misnomer that plays upon deeply held American values related to notions of private property ownership, economic opportunity, and family. (229) In any number of polls, a majority of Americans support the repeal of the estate and gift tax--offering such responses as "the money was already taxed once and shouldn't be taxed again." (230) When presented as a standalone issue, most people polled support repeal of the gratuitous tax system even though they (i) are not subject to the estate and gift tax, and (ii) will arguably be harmed by repeal of the tax. (231) There is one prominent study that suggests that respondents' support for the tax doubles when well-informed about who does and does not bear the actual incidence of the tax, (232) but other research contradicts this study. (233) Certainly, the idea that Americans would reject the estate and gift tax is confusing: to the extent that preferences are shaped by economic self-interest, those who will never conceivably pay a tax should theoretically stand in support of the tax. (234) Normatively, voters are turning a blind eye to the reality that current levels of services offered by the federal government cannot be maintained without running large budget deficits. (235) This provides nice cover for the wealthiest Americans to pay historically low taxes. (236)

The political process itself has become an obstacle, with opponents of the gratuitous tax system taking the battle to the court of public opinion. A separate conversation about the idea of earmarking revenues from the broadened gratuitous transfer tax system to reform higher education financing needs to occur--an approach that imports transparency that may facilitate bipartisan support and durable change. (237) To very briefly consider this idea, which is widely criticized, state governments in the United States have widely adopted the practice of hypothecating or earmarking taxes. (238) There are three primary advantages to hypothecated taxes, each of which acknowledges structural difficulties created by the political process itself: (1) the earmarking of revenues may be the only feasible way for a politician to increase taxes without incurring overwhelming political costs; (2) an increase in taxes is more publicly acceptable when there is a plausible connection between the source of revenue and the ultimate use of that revenue; and (3) the so-called "flypaper effect" of earmarked revenue means that there will be some degree of revenue stability for a designated program. (239) Public expenditure decisions become transparent. (240) The voting public experiences direct citizenship by being directly connected to the revenue expenditure, creating ownership and perhaps benevolence. (241) When there is public demand for a specific service, dedication of revenue can overcome opposition that government would normally face to an increase in taxes. (242) The importance of bipartisan support for reform of longstanding policy should not be minimized. Broadening of the estate and gift tax must be economically sustainable as well as politically sustainable, and transforming a system necessitates bipartisan support so that all good efforts are not destroyed as control of the political process changes.

This reform is premised upon the foundational notion that human needs must be met equitably. (243) There is an inescapable human dependence not simply upon physical and natural resources, but as capital markets grow and are globally interconnected, also upon financial resources and debt. The government has a responsibility to all stakeholders as concerns the responsible management of student loan debt as a CPR, and to that end, all citizens are stakeholders. The externalities that flow from higher education, and also student loan debt, impact everyone.

The near-impossibility of developing a revenue offset (or revenue-increasing proposal) to assure revenue neutral reform is an underappreciated challenge. Revenue-losing legislation must include offsetting revenue-increasing provisions that are good tax policy, easily defended, and not perceived as unfair by voters. (244) The broadening of the gratuitous tax system provides the revenue source needed to reimagine higher education finance in the United States. The lack of public support for the estate tax collides with the broad support for higher education, and this approach gambles that the latter will emerge as victor. Access to higher education generally receives broad bipartisan support, as an educated populace is arguably a pillar of an egalitarian society and the buttress of national democracy. Intergenerational equity imposes an ethical obligation to pass a nondeteriorated system of higher education financing onto successive generations, and a commitment to sustainability shapes the revenue-increasing proposal advanced in this article.


In George Washington's farewell address, he strongly encouraged the government to avoid "ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. (245) Notions of intergenerational equity have existed for centuries, and yet scholars struggle with the way in which to coherently define a future obligation to persons without legal identity. (246) Though reductionist, defining the obligation may have to work backwards from the obvious conclusion: the alternative is absurd. No one wishes to live in a world where every generation has the unfettered right to enjoy resources to exhaustion, extinction, or extermination. And while it may be impossible to define exactly how the Baby Boomer generation violated notions of intergenerational equity, it may be adequate to acknowledge instead that intergenerational balance has not been respected in the context of higher education financing--with the Boomers having objectively benefitted both as beneficiaries and trustees. (247)

In the immediate aftermath of three economic bubbles, the voting public is receptive to conversations about consequences of crushing student loan debt and the importance of accessibility and affordability of higher education. (248) This receptiveness must be harnessed. Though debt is a useful tool to advance equality, an overreliance on debt does exactly the opposite. Reform of higher education finance in the United States will likely require both a recommitment and a reallocation of revenue, which must be done in a revenue-neutral manner. (249) As important as the form the new system takes, cohesive redesign requires that a source of funding be identified that will receive broad bipartisan support to be durable. Broadening the estate and gift tax is an easily implemented solution (because it would require only a return to recently imposed rates/exemption amounts) that equitably imposes a burden upon the Baby Boomer generation. The political sustainability of the solution requires that the image problem of the estate and gift tax system is repaired through the ability of the tax to facilitate an initiative that receives broad bipartisan support.

Victoria J. Haneman (*)

(*) Frank J. Kellegher Professor of Trusts & Estates, Creighton University School of Law. My heartfelt gratitude to research assistant Ty C. Medd For his tireless efforts with taming my unruly footnotes and providing thoughtful commentary. The usual disclaimers apply.

(1) Sam Tanenhaus, Generation Nice, N.Y. TIMES (Aug. 15, 2014), ("The new generation may have had health-consciousness drilled into them at home or in school. But they have raised it to a new level. 'For millennials, food isn't just food. It's community"...."). Id.

(2) Matt Pressman, Millennials and Men Pick Tesla Model S as Their 'Dream Car', EVANNEX (Jan. 13, 2018),

(3) Anya Alvarez, Millennials Aren't Killing Golf, VICE SPORTS (Nov. 14, 2017),

(4) BRUCE CANNON GIBNEY, A GENERATION OF SOCIOPATHS: How THE BABY BOOMERS BETRAYED AMERICANS 7 (2017). Baby Boomers are the generation of Americans born from 1940 to 1964. Id. at xi. Boomers have been described as "a plague of generational locusts." Id. at xvi.

(5) "[I]n 1981, a student could work the entire summer at a minimum wage job, save all their money, and pay two-thirds of their school expenses at a public, four-year." Heather Boushey, Student Debt: Bigger and Bigger, CTR. FOR ECON. POL'Y & RES. (Sept. 2005), 2005_09.pdf.

(6) Thomas Colson, One Churl Shows How Millennials Got Screwed, Bus. INSIDER (NOV. 16, 2017), (showing "...millennials arc the first generation who have failed to improve upon the living standards of the preceding 'Generation X'); Michael Hobbes, FML: Why Millennials Are Facing the Scariest Financial Future of Any Generation Since the Great Depression., HUFFPOST: HIGHLINE, (last visited October 12, 2019).

The timeless prayer uttered by Hector to his child Aslynax, in book six of the Iliad, has resonated with generations of parents for centuries, "Then may one say of him as he comes from battle, 'The son is far better than the father.'" HOMER, THE ILIAD 90 (762 B.C.). It is difficult to conceive that an entire generation would fritter away their New Deal inheritance, and leave their children indebted.

(8) COLLEGE BOARD, TRENDS IN STUDENT AID 2013 21 (2013), htlps://

(9) Matt Carter, Average U.S. Student Loan Debt Statistics, CREDIBLE (June 30, 2019, 5:27 PM),


(11) Peter Coy & Karen Weise, Do Millennials Think They are Financially Screwed?, MASHABLE: BLOOMBERG (Oct. 1, 2015),

(12) Adam Forrest, Millennials Are Missing Out on Life Because They Have More Debt Than Savings, VICE (Apr. 4, 2018),

(13) Maximillian Alvarez, The People Who Stole the World, THE BAFFLER (May 2018), htlps:// ("How else could we account for the fact that the complacent, narcissistic beneficiaries of the New Deal welfare state--who lavishly benefited from one of the greatest surges in public investment in infrastructure, higher education, and social-welfare spending--would pull up the ladder behind them, leaving for their kids a legacy of punitive government austerity, crumbling infrastructure, a higher ed system that replaced public funds with endlessly rising tuition rates and student loans, and feckless giveaways to corporations and plutocrats?").

(14) Ben Steverman, America's Millennials Are Waking Up to a Grim Financial Future, BLOOMBERG (Jun. 21, 2018), hltps://

(15) Zack Friedman, Student Loan Debt Statistics In 2019: A $1.5 Trillion Crisis, FORBES (Feb. 25, 2019), 16b8d2a3133f.

Shelly Banjo, American Student Loan Debt Has Surpassed the GDP of Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland Combined, QUARTZ (Feb. 18, 2015),

(17) For purposes of this article, a Millennial is defined as a person who was born between 1982 and 2004. See Philip Bump, Here Is When Each Generation Begins and Ends, According to Facts, THE ATLANTIC (Mar. 25, 2014), It may be worth expanding the definition, however, to include a micro-generation of babies born between 1977 and 1982 who arc nicknamed Xennials. Jake Rossen, How to Tell if You're a 'Xennial', MENTAL FLOSS (June 26, 2017), (describing a micro-generation who "grew up with some of the basic tenets of pre-digital technology--landline phones, broadcast television, and handwritten letters--who then adapted to social media in their 20s.").

(18) Mike Brown, 70% of Millennials Believe U.S. Student Loan Debt Poses Bigger Threat to U.S. than North Korea, LENDEDU.COM (June 19, 2017), (explaining that "LendEDU wanted to see how millennials, the largest living generation in the world, thought the student loan debt crisis in the U.S. slacked up against other serious threats that the country will be dealing with in the coming years.... The second question of LendEDU's poll posed the following question to 544 millennials: 'What is a bigger problem facing the United States?' ... 69.7 percent, think the $1.41 trillion student loan debt situation is a bigger threat than North Korea... [conversely,] 30.3 percent, believe North Korea poses more of a threat than does the student loan crisis.").

(19) Dan Lamolhe, Pentagon Chief Declares North Korea the New Top Threat to U.S. Security, WASH. POST (June 12, 2017), "Defense Secretary Jim Mattis declared North Korea the 'most urgent and dangerous threat to peace and security,' before the House Armed Services Committee on Monday night, moving Kim Jong Un's regime past Russia as the No. 1 threat that the United States faces." Id; Sam Ellis, The Growing North Korea Nuclear Threat, Explained, VOX (July 7, 2017), (stating "On July 4, 2017, North Korea held a test launch of their new missile, the Hwasong-14. It's an intercontinental ballistic missile, or 1CBM, meaning it has a very long range and is designed to carry a nuclear weapon. Analysts determined that the Hwasong-14 can theoretically reach Alaska, but North Korea still has some major technical hurdles to clear before it becomes a real threat to the US. Still, three US presidents have now failed to stop North Korea from building a functional 1CBM.").

(20) Robert Farrington, Why The Student Loan Bubble Won't Burst, FORBES (Dec. 12, 201 8),

(21) Lisa M. Barbacci & Alanna S. Welling-Arnold, Student Loan Debt in Bankruptcy: A Trend Towards Dischargeability, 2014 ANN. SURV. OF BANKR. LAW 12 (2014).

(22) Rana Foroohar, The U.S. College Debt Bubble Is Becoming Dangerous, FIN. TIMES (Apr. 9, 2017), f.

(23) To put this in perspective, Canada overtook Russia as having the tenth largest economy in 2015, and its GDP was $1.7 trillion. Caleb Silver, Top 20 Economies in the World, INVESTOPEDIA (updated June 7, 2019),

(24) John Aidan Byrne, US students may collectively owe SIT in loans by 2021, N.Y. POST (Aug. 11, 2018),; Annie Nova, Elizabeth Warren will introduce legislation to cancel student loan debt for most borrowers, CNBC (June 13, 2019), Annie Nova, It could become easier for people with student debt to file for bankruptcy, CNBC (May 1 1. 2019), Erik Ortiz, Billionaire's gift to wipe out Morehouse student loans highlights debt 'crisis.' advocates say, NBC NEWS, (May 20, 2019), hltps://; Steven R. Strahler, The bigger gut-punch from college debt, CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS (Mar. 26, 2016),

(25) Foroohar, supra note 22.

(26) James Surowiecki, Debt by Degrees, THE NEW YORKER (Nov. 21, 2011),

(27) Democratic candidates for President in both 2016 and 2020 have advanced a number of proposals to address the student loan debt crisis. To date, these proposals have not advanced and President Donald Trump does not seem overly interested in the topic of student loan debt. Robert Farrington, The 2020 Presidential Candidates' Proposals For Student Loan Debt, FORBES (Apr, 24, 2019),

(28) John F. Wasik, College Loan Debt: How Much Is Too Much?, TIME: MONEY (Jan. 11, 2016),

(29) Paul Taylor, The Baby Boomers' Unfinished Business, DEMOCRACY J. (2018),

(30) Sharon Epperson & Jessica Dickler, The latest victims of the student debt crisis--parents, CNBC (May 11, 2019),

(31) A Look at the Shocking Student Loan Debt Statistics for 2019, STUDENTLOANHERO.COM, (last updated Feb. 4, 2019).

(32) China to dominate global economy by 2050. US to fall behind India, Russia to top Europe--PwC, RT (Feb. 7, 2017), ("Over the next three decades, the global economy will be dominated by China, and the US economy will lose steam and fall behind India, says consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)...PwC concluded that by 2050, China's GDP would reach $58.5 trillion, India, over $44 trillion, while the US will have a $34.1 trillion economy.").

(33) See Kicking the Can Down an Endless Road, THE ECONOMIST (Aug. 31, 2017),

(34) Tanenhaus, supra note 1 ("No wonder, then, that 'millennials are the nation's most dogged optimists,' as Pew reported in a new study this spring. 'They believe their own best days are ahead."").

(35) Sean Farrell, Use Inheritance Tax to Tackle Inequality of Wealth, says OECD, THE GUARDIAN (Apr. 12, 2018), ("Laura Gardiner, principal researcher at the Resolution Foundation, a UK thinktank... said politicians on the left and right recognised that taxing wealth would be necessary as more baby boomers, which typically refers to the generation born between 1946 and 1964, retire and need social care. The 40% rate for UK inheritance tax scares people even though only 4% of estates pay any inheritance lax, she said.").

(36) Jess Stonefield, Are Boomers Ready to Make the Greatest Wealth Transfer in History?, FORBES (May 21, 2018),

(37) In other words, exactly the opposite of the substantial gutting that occurred through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, effective January 1, 2018.

(38) I would like to begin by breaking the aeademic fourth wall by acknowledging, directly, that my life partner is a Boomer. I am not supporting a culling of the Boomers to raise tax revenue, but instead, simply see a valuable opportunity arising when they expire at a time of their own choosing.

(39) Billy Jones, Bill would help with student-loan debt, PRESS REPUBLICAN (May 31, 2017),

(40) Id.

(41) Helen Li, The Rising Cost of Higher Education: A Supply & Demand Analysis, N.Y.U. LEONARD N. STERN SCH. BUS. (May 2013),

(42) Andrew Martin & Andrew W. Lehren, A Generation Hobbled by the Soaring Cost of College, N.Y. TIMES (May 12, 2012), ("About two-thirds of bachelor's degree recipients borrow money to attend college, either from the government or private lenders, according to a Department of Education survey of 2007-8 graduates: the total number of borrowers is most likely higher since the survey does not track borrowing from family members.").

(43) See Susan Dynarski, An Economist's Perspective on Student Loans in the United States, ECON. STUD, AT BROOKINGS: ES WORKING PAPER SERIES 1-27 (Sept. 2014), dynarski.pdf.

(44) Mary E. Flannery, At 50, Higher Education Act Remains the Cornerstone of College Affordability, NEATODAY (Oct. 27, 2015, 10:45 AM),

(45) See generally Stephen P. Zeldes, Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation, 97 J. POL. ECON. 305 (1989) (exploring the issues that arise from the inability to borrow against future income).

(46) See Sima J. Gandhi, Understanding Students from a Behavioral Economics Perspective: How Accelerating Student Loan Subsidies Generates More Bang for the Buck, 17 KAN. J.L. & PUB. POL'Y 130, 132 (2008) (explaining that loan subsidies take several forms: a below market interest rate; interest rate deductions of up to $2,500 per year; and, in the case of subsidized Stafford loans, the government's recompense of interest while the student is attending university).

(47) Id.; Lawrence E. Gladicux, Federal Student Aid Policy: A History and an Assessment, U.S. DEPT. OF EDUC. (Oct. 1995),

(48) Tyler Kingkade, Pell Grants Cover Smallest Portion of College Costs in History as GOP Calls for Cuts, THE HUFFINGTON POST (Aug. 29, 2012, 3:08 PM), (explaining that in 1980, the maximum Pell Grant amount covered 77% of the cost of a four-year degree at a public university, as compared to 36% in 2012.); see also THE NAT'L CTR. FOR PUB. POL'Y & HIGHER EDUC, LOSING GROUND: A NATIONAL STATUS REPORT ON THE AFFORDABILITY OF AMERICAN HIGHER EDUCATION 7 (2002),

(49) COLLEGE BOARD, TOTAL PELL GRAM EXPENDITURES AND NUMBER OF RECIPIENTS OVER TIME (2018), (noting that the amount invested in Pell grants in 1977 was $6.1 billion. Adjusted for inflation (using the calculator below), this amount translates to $25.54 billion in 2018 dollars); Morgan Friedman, The Inflation Calculator. WESTEGG,; see also Elissa Nadworny, We Now Know A Lot More About Students Who Receive Federal College Grants, NPR (June 3, 2018),

(50) NAT'L CIR. FOR EDUC. STAT., DIGEST OF EDUCATION STATISTICS 2018 TBL. 303.10 (2018).; see also Hee Kyung Hong & Jae-Eun Chae, Student Loan Policies in Korea: Evolution, Opportunities and Challenges, 26 EDUC. RES. J. 99, 102 (2011) (noting that unprecedented growth is not an excuse for failing to adequately fund a system. South Korea saw unprecedented higher education growth from 6% to 70.4% from 1960 to 2009 and now ranks number one in the world by the OECD with regard to educational attainment for 25 to 34-ycar-olds).

(51) Nadworny, supra note 49.

(52) Id.

(53) Gladieux, supra note 47.


(55) Tom Vander Ark, 12 Trends Killing College, FORBES (June 17, 2019, 03:00 AM),

(56) Michael Mitchell, By Disinvesting in Higher Education, Slates Contributing to Affordability Crisis, CTR. ON BUDGET AND POL'Y PRIORITIES (Oct. 4, 2018, 10:15 AM),

(57) "Historically, stales have provided a far greater amount of assistance to postsecondary institutions and students; 65 percent more than the federal government on average from 1987 to 2012. But this difference narrowed dramatically in recent years, particularly since the Great Recession, as slate spending declined and federal investments grew sharply." THE PEW CHARITABLE TRUSTS, FEDERAL AND STATE FUNDING OF HIGHER EDUCATION: A CHANGING LANDSCAPE 1 (2015), https://www.pewtrusts.Org/~/media/assels/2015/06/federal_state_funding_higher_edueation_final.pdf.

(58) Of 49 states analyzed, it was found that 44 spent less in 2017 on eduealion funding than in 2008. The reason for this is because slates made deep cuts during the recession and have not recommitted the funds needed to return stales to pre-recession spending levels. M. Mitchell, M Leachman, & K. Mastcrson, A Lost Decade in Higher Education Funding: State Cuts Have Driven Up Tuition and Reduced Quality, CTR. ON BUDGET AND POL'Y PRIORITIES (Aug. 23, 2017),

(59) "In 1992, tuition accounted for slightly less than three-tenths of the total educational revenue for public colleges and universities. But by 2017, tuition supplied nearly half of the total revenue. In 28 states last year, tuition provided more revenue than public appropriations, SHEEO found. That was the first lime a majority of states funded post-secondary education mostly through tuition."

Ronald Brownstein, American Higher Education Hits a Dangerous Milestone, THE ATLANTIC (May 3, 2018),





(64) Tyler Durden, The Next Shoe Drops: More than 25% of Student Loans Are Already Delinquent....BUSINESS INSIDER (Mar. 25, 2012 3:47 PM), (affirming that student loan debt "[J]ust surpassed $1 trillion, and is growing at $40-50 billion each month."); see also Surowiecki, supra note 26 ("Some of the boom in student debt can be chalked up to demographics: in the past decade, the number of college-age Americans rose by more than three million and the proportion of eighteen-to-twenty-four-year-olds enrolled in college went from [35%] to [41%].").

(65) Josh Milchell & Maya Jackson-Randall, Student-Loan Debt Tops $1 Trillion, WALL ST. J. (Mar. 22, 2012),

(66) The exact number is $1.56 trillion and climbing. Shocking, supra note 31.

(67) Alan Collinge, Trump is pushing the student loan system to the brink of failure. BOS. GLOBE (June 5, 2017), woaaZ1zlkM/story.html.

(68) Shocking, supra note 31.

(69) Ronald Roach, Report: Student Loan Debt Stratified by Race, Class, DIVERSE (June 4, 2015),

(70) Judith Scott-Clayton & Jing Li, Black-white disparity in student loan debt more than triples after graduation, BROOKINGS INST. (Oct. 20, 2016),

(71) The author would be unsurprised if staggering racial and class inequities also existed with regard to healthcare; however, it is outside of the scope of this Article to consider that tangent.

(72) Scott-Clayton & Li. supra note 70.

(73) Id. (acknowledging "...nearly half of black graduates (48 percent) owe more on their federal undergraduate loans after four years than they did at graduation, compared to just 17 percent of white graduates (a situation known as negative amortization).").

(74) Ronald Roach, Report: Student Loan Debt Stratified by Race. Class. DIVERSE (June 4, 2015),

(75) Alan Collinge, Trump is pushing lite student loan system to the brink of failure, Bos. GLOBE, (June 05, 2017),

(76) The Student Loan Debt Bubble (Think Virus-Spreading Monkey from the Movie Outbreak!), I'M DATING A ONE PERCENTER (May 7, 2012), "[T]he student debt crisis needs to be treated like the virus- spreading monkey from Outbreak. It needs to be tracked down, quarantined, studied, and injected with every single freaking viable solution out there--and then apply the solution in a mass sweep." Id.

(77) Mary Pilon, Student Loan Debt Surpasses Credit Cards, WAIT. ST. J. (Aug. 9, 2010), "[A] consumer who juggles both credit-card and student-loan debt is likely to pay of the credit-card first, as that debt tends to carry a higher interest rate." Id.

(78) Shocking, supra note 31.


(80) Id.

(81) Id

(82) Justin Song, Average Student Loan Debt in America: 2019 Facts & Figures, LENDING TREE (2019), htlps://

(83) United States GDP Annual Growth Rate, TRADING ECONOMICS (2019), The United States is the world's leading economy in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which was $20.5 million in 2018. Quarterly GDP improves in United States in first quarter, COUNTRYECONOMY(2019),

(84) Supra note 80.

(85) The student loan repayment rates were initially released by the Department of Education in 2015 as part of the Obama Administration's 2015 College Scorecard. Andrea Fuller, Student Debt Payback Far Worse than Believed, WALL ST. J. (Jan. 18, 2017),

(86) Kelly Evans, Student-Loan Delinquencies Now Surpass Credit Cards, CNBC (Nov. 27, 2012), (stating a comparable rate of delinquency for credit cards of 10.5%, auto loans of 4.3%, and mortgages of 5.9%).

(87) FED. RES. BANK OF N.Y., Decrease in Overall Debt Balance Continues Despite Rise in Non-Real Estate Debt, (Nov. 27, 2012), "[T]hese delinquency rates for student loans are likely to understate actual delinquency rates because almost half of these loans are currently in deferment, in grace periods or in forbearance and therefore temporarily not in the repayment cycle. This implies that among loans in the repayment cycle delinquency rates are roughly twice as high." Id.

(88) Catey Hill, The disturbing reasons behind the 'meteoric rise' in Americans' debt, MARKETWATCH (May 11, 2019, 9:47 AM),

(89) Judith Scott-Clayton, The looming student loan default crisis is worse than we thought, BROOKINGS INST. (Jan. 11, 2018),

(90) At least one registered investment advisor is offering advice as to how the savvy investor can make a profit when the student loan debt bubble bursts. Nicholas Pardini, Shorting Student Loans: The Next Major Credit Bubble, SEEKING ALPHA (July 5, 2011, 9:46 AM), He recommends shorting Sallie Mae (NASDAQ: SLM), the leading student loan company and a government subsidized entity (GSE) and for-profit colleges, such as DeVry (DV), Apollo Group (APOL), and ITT Educational Services (ESI), which he says, "have 90% of their revenues coming from federal student loan aid." Id.

(91) [T]he Networked Economy will represent an economic value of at least $90 trillion.... It's an emerging type of economic environment arising from the digitization of fast-growing, multilayered, highly interactive, real-time connections among people, devices, and businesses." MIT Technology Review Insights, Revolution in Progress: The Networked Economy, MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW (Aug. 27, 2014),

(92) See, e.g., Georgi Boorman, Why Student Loans Are Not A Crisis And Certainly Don 'I Deserve A Bailout, THE FEDERALIST (Aug. 14, 2018),; Jordan Weissmann, Forgiving All Student Loan Debt Would Be an Awful, Regressive Idea, SLATE (Aug. 15, 2016, 7:42 PM),; Robert Farrington, Most Total Student Loan Forgiveness Plans Are A Bad Idea, FORBES (Jun. 6, 2019, 08:21 AM)

(93) Andrew Kreighbaum, New Study on Income-Driven Repayment Plans, INSIDE HIGHER ED (Apr. 10, 2018),

(94) There are five plans available: ICR, IBR, PAYE, REPAYE, PSLF. Income Driven Repayment Options, SLBA (last visited July 14, 2019); FEDERAL STUDENT AID, If your federal student loan payments are high compared to your income, you may want to repay your loans under an income-driven repayment plan, (last visited July 14, 2019); Lindsay Van Someren, How Married Couples Can Take Advantage of Public Service Loan Forgiveness for Their Student Debt, STUDENT LOAN PLANNER (June 26, 2019),

(95) Many borrowers are making small payments that are not covering interest and negative amortization occurs. Negative amortization may cause the balance to exponentially increase.

(96) Alan Collinge, Trump is pushing the student loan system to the brink of failure, BOS. GLOBE (June 05, 2017), ("Two years ago, it was reported that 57 percent of the people in Income Based Repayment (IBR) had been expelled on just one of the many grounds the department has to disqualify borrowers. If even 20 percent of the people in these programs actually make it through, it will be surprising. The rest will wish they had never signed up").

(97) Lorie Konish, Gelling Your Student Loan Forgiven Is A High-Wire Act. Heres How To Do It Right, CNBC (Nov. 9, 2017),

(98) Stacy Cowley, 28.000 Public Servants Sought Student Loan Forgiveness. 96 Got It., N.Y. TIMES (Sept. 27, 2018), Most (70%) rejected for not meeting all of the program requirements. The rest were rejected for having missing or incomplete information. Ron Lieber, The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Rescue Hasn't Gone So Well, N.Y. TIMES (Oct. 17, 2018), (noting that "fewer than 1 percent of applicants have had their loans discharged through the program, which got its start just over a decade ago but is only now having borrowers become eligible").

(99) Matthew Molloy, Trump budget targets programs that protect children, BALT. SUN (June 21, 2017),


(101) Shui-Yan Tang, Richard F. Callahan & Mark Pisano, Using Common-Pool Resource Principles to Design Local Government Fiscal Sustainability, 74 PUB. ADMIN. REV. 791, 791-803 (2014).

(102) See Jonathan Rosenbloom, New Day at the Pool: State Preemption, Common Pool Resources, and Non-Place Based Municipal Collaborations, 36 HARV. ENVTL. L. REV. 445, 450(2012).

(103) Charlotte Hess & Elinor Ostrom, Ideas, Artifacts, and Facilities: Information as a Common-Pool Resource, 66 LAW & CONTEMP. PROBS. 111, 127-28 (2003).

(104) Though student loan debt is a liability for individual borrowers, the debt is an asset in the hands of the lender: one that may be purchased, sold, securitized, underutilized and exploited.

(105) J. Samuel Barkin & Yuliya Rashehupkina, Public Goods. Common Pool Resources, and International Law. 111 AM. J. INT'L L. 376, 376 (2017).

(106) Charlotte Hess & Elinor Ostrom, Ideas, Artifacts, and Facilities: Information as a Common-Pool Resource, 66 LAW & CONTEMP. PROBS. 111, 127-28 (2003).

(107) Douglas S. Noonan, Internet Decentralization, Feedback, and Self-Organization, in MANAGING THE COMMONS 189 (John A. Baden & Douglas S. Noonan eds., 1998).

(108) James C. Wood, Intergenerational Equity and Climate Change, 8 GEO. INT'L ENVTL. L. REV. 293,309(1996).

(109) Id.

(110) Id.

(111) Charlotte Hess & Elinor Ostrom, Ideas, Artifacts, and Facilities: Information as a Common-Pool Resource, 66 LAW & CONTEMP. PROBS. 111, 121 (2003).

(112) Jonathan D. Glater. The Other Big Test: Why Congress Should Allow College Students to Borrow More Through Federal Aid Programs, 14 NYU J. LEGIS. & Pus. POL'Y 14, 121 (2011).

(113) Before 2010, most student loans were issued as guaranteed loans. Under this system, private banks lent money to students at terms the federal government dictated. The federal government then guaranteed banks' returns. If students failed to repay their loans, taxpayers picked up the bill. Congress even layered some extra subsidies on top to sweeten the deal for the lender... [this system has been described as] "private in name only." Despite the presence of private lenders in the system, it operated according to the federal government's rules and on the federal government's dollar. Preston Cooper, Betsy DeVos Is Wrong About The 'Government Takeover' Of Student Loans, FORBES (Nov. 30, 2018, 2:30 AM),

(114) Id.

(115) Student advocacy groups hope that a FAFSA simplification push will include eliminating a question about drug convictions while receiving federal aid--and a corresponding section of federal law denying aid to students with such convictions." Andrew Kreighbaum, New Push to Drop Drug Offenses as Barrier to Student Aid, Inside Higher Ed (Mar. 7, 2018),

(116) Zina Kumok, What are the Requirements to Get a Student Loan?, The College Investor, (last updated May 23,2019).

(117) If the clock was to be turned back one trillion seconds, the year would be (roughly) 30,000 B.C. Ryan Suppe, How much is $1 trillion? Well, Apple could buy everyone in San Francisco an apartment, USA TODAY (last updated Sep. 1, 2018, 9:55 AM),

(118) Shocking, supra note 31.

(119) David V. Budescu, Amnon Rapoport, & Ramzi Suleiman, Common Pool Resource Dilemmas Under Uncertainty: Qualitative Tests of Equilibrium Solutions, 10 GAMES & ECON. BEHAV. 171. 171-201 (1995).

(120) Garrett Hardin, The Tragedy of the Commons, 162 SCIENCE 1243 (1968).

(121) There is certainly no agreement among legal scholars that future generations have any legal rights whatsoever, and therefore that there is no moral or legal obligation on the basis of such rights. See, e.g. Wilfred Beekerman. The Impossibility of a Theory of Intergenerational Justice, in HANDBOOK OF INTERGENERATIONAL JUST, 53, 53 (Joerg Chet Trommel ed., 2006); Ruth Macklin, Can Future Generations Correctly Be Said to Have Rights?, in RESPONSIBILITIES TO FUTURE GENERATIONS (providing that the "ascription of rights is properly to be made to actual persons--not possible persons.'").

(122) Professor Jonathan Chantey suggests that exceptional norms may be binding as universal law. Jonathan I. Chamcy, Universal International Law, 87 AM. J. INT'L L. 529, 529 (1993).

(123) Michael Mitchell, Michael Leachman, & Kathleen Masterson, A Lost Decade in Higher Education Funding: State Cuts Have Driven Up Tuition and Reduced Quality, CTR. ON BUDGET AND POL*V PRIORITIES (Aug. 23, 2017),

(124) Zack Friedman, Betsy DeVos: Student Loan Debt Is Now A 'Crisis', FORBES (NOV. 28, 2018),

(125) "Someone once said that the difference between an American and any other kind of person is that an American lives in anticipation of the future because he knows it will be a great place." Ronald Reagan, Presidential Announcement (Nov. 13, 1979) (transcript available at 1980announcement.htm).


(127) J.K. Summers& L.M. Smith, The Role of Social and Intergenerational Equity in Making Changes in Human Well-Being Sustainable, 43 AMBIO 718, 718 (2014),

(128) "It has been said that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly's wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway across the world." BUTTERFLY EEFFCT (New Line Cinema 2004).

(129) "Not every policy choice must elevate the concerns of future generations over those of current generations, of course, but a conscious acknowledgement that we are making decisions for people who cannot speak for their own interests creates a moral imperative to give voice to the voiceless." Neil H. Buchanan, What Do We Owe Future Generations?, 77 GEO. WASH. L. REV. 1237, 1237 (2009).

(130) Only 1% of the population aged 18 to 24-ycars-old was enrolled in a post-secondary educational program in 1869-1870, as compared to 34% in 1993 and 41.2% in 2016. NAT'L CTR. FOR EDUC. STAT., 120 YEARS OF AMERICAN EDUCATION: A STATISTICAL PORTRAIT 64 (1993),; NAT'L CTR. FOR EDUC. STAT., DIGEST OF EDUCATION STATISTICS 2000 TBL. 302.60 (2017),

(131) These figures do not control for undoubtedly impactful socio-demographic variables. SOC. SECURITY ADMIN., EDUCATION AND LIFETIME EARNINGS (2015),

(132) Doug Lederman, Credential Creep Confirmed, INSIDE HIGHER ED (Sept. 9, 2014),; Preston Cooper, How Degree Inflation Weakens The Economy, FORBES (Jan. 8, 2018),

(133) U.S. Dep't. of Educ., Fact Sheet: Focusing Higher Education on Student Success (2015), news/ press -releases/fact-sheet-focusing-higher-education-student-success (noting that by 2020, two-thirds of job openings will require some post-secondary education): Steve Goldstein, Nine out of 10 new jobs are going to those with a college degree, MarkctWatch (June 5, 2018, 10:29 AM), (explaining 9 out of 10 jobs filled in the last year went to college educated candidates).

(134) "No other nation punishes the "uneducated" as harshly as the United States. Nearly 30 percent of Americans without a high school diploma live in poverty, compared to 5 percent with a college degree, and we infer that this comes from a lack of education. But in 28 other wealthy developed countries, a lack of a high school diploma increases the probability of poverty by less than 5 percent. In these nations, a dearth of education does not predestine citizens for poverty." Ellen Ruppel Shell. College May Not Be Worth It Anymore, N.Y. TIMES (May 16, 2018),

(135) Emilio Padilla, Intergenerational equity and sustainability, 41 ECONOLOGICAL ECON. 69, 69 (2002),

(136) Id. at 72.

(137) Id.

(138) Id. at 75.

(139) F. King Alexander, Statement to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health. Education, Labor, and Pensions (2015),

(140) Id.

(141) See id. (LSU President F. King Alexander asserts that at present course and speed, a number of states will have abandoned making any contribution towards higher education on or before 2030, including Colorado (2025), Louisiana (2027), Massachusetts and Rhode Island (2029), and Arizona (2030)); see also Jon Marcus, Most Americans don't realize state funding for higher ed fell by billion, PBS (Feb. 26, 2019, 12:20 PM), "States collectively cut spending to colleges and universities by 16 percent in real terms between 2008 and 2017, the CPBB says. Per-student funding in Alabama, Arizona, Illinois, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Carolina fell by more than 30 percent. Five states spent more in 2017 than in 2008: Indiana. Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming."

(142) Linette Lopez, America's student debt nightmare actually started in the 1980s, BUS. INSIDER (Oct. 13, 2015),

(143) Id.

(144) Jeffrey J. Selingo, States' decision to reduce support for higher education comes at a cost, WASH. POST (Sept. 8, 2018), 2018/09/08/states-decision-reduce-support-higher-cdueation-comes-cost/?utm_term=.1094495fca47 ("Today, higher education accounts for about 9 percent of state spending, about half as much as what states spend on Medicaid, the health program for low-income Americans. Since 1990, Medicaid's portion of state budgets has nearly doubled, while higher education's share has fallen from 15 percent....Much of this shift in spending happened over time and under the cloak of lengthy state budget proceedings.").

(145) King Alexander, supra note 139; Jon Marcus, Most Americans don't realize state funding for higher ed fell by billion, PBS (Feb. 26, 2019), ("Most Americans believe state spending for public universities and colleges has, in fact, increased or at least held steady over the last 10 years, according to a new survey by American Public Media. They're wrong. Stales have collectively scaled back their annual higher education funding by $9 billion during that time, when adjusted for inflation, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, or CBPP, reports."); M. Mitchell, M. Leachman, K. Masterson & S. Waxman, Unkept Promise: State Cuts to Higher Education Threaten Access and Equity, CTR. ON BUDGET AND POL'Y PRIORITIES (Oct. 4, 2018), ("Overall state funding for public two-year and four-year institutions in the 2017-18 academic year was $7 billion less than 2008 levels--a decline of $1,409 per student, or 16 percent, adjusting for inflation."); Jeffrey J. Selingo, States 'decision to reduce support for higher education comes at a cost. WASH. POST (Sept. 8, 2018). ("...In only six states have higher education budgets returned to or surpassed their prc-rccession levels; in 19 states, expenditures per student are at least 20 percent lower than before the recession.").

(146) Brownstein, supra note 59.


(148) Id.

(149) Id.

(150) King Alexander, supra note 139.

(151) I MMANUKL KANT, Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose, in KANT'S POLITICAL WRITINGS 41, 50(1784).

(152) Padilla, supra note 145 at 75.

(153) Id. at 76.

(154) Michael Doran, Intergenerational Equity in Fiscal Policy Reform, 61 TAX L. REV. 241, 291 (2008).

(155) Id.

(156) See id. at 291 (explaining "The fact that one generation passes along a fiscal burden to the next generation--such as happened in the formative years of the Social Security program--does not necessarily indicate that the earlier generation ignored the interests of the later generation. Rather, it may indicate that the earlier generation judged the burden to be fair; it may even indicate that the earlier generation in good faith believed that the later generation would have agreed with the judgment of the earlier generation (had it been possible to consult the later generation at the time the decision was made).").

(157) Deborah Graham, Coming of Age Having Forever Changed the Profession by Their Numbers and Diversity, Baby Boomers Can Look to Running Their Firms and Even (Gasp!) Retirement, 80 A.B.A. J. 50, 50 (1996).

(158) Id. at 51.

(159) According to Dr. Ross Goldstein, president of Generation Insights, a San Francisco consulting firm that specializes in tracking the baby boom generation, first-wave and second-wave baby boomers have in common "cohort values," such as iconoclasm, rebelliousness, intense competitiveness, and a high degree of moralism that involves "redefining morality to serve their own purposes." Id. at 51-52.

(160) Bill Keller, The Entitled Generation, N.Y. TIMES (July 29, 2012), (noting that "even Barack Obama, who styles himself post-boomer though he was born in 1961, complained in 'The Audacity of Hope' that today's hyperpolarized political discourse began with the "psycho-drama of the baby boom generation").

(161) As they enter late middle age, the Boomers still can't grow up. Guys who once dropped acid are now downing Viagra; women who once eschewed lipstick are now getting liposuction. At the risk of feeding their narcissism, I believe it's lime someone stated the simple truth: The Baby Boomers are the most self-centered, self-seeking, self-interested, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, sell-aggrandizing generation in American history." Paul Begala, The Worst Generation: Or, how I Learned to Stop Worrying and Hate the Boomers, ESQUIRE (Mar. 3, 2017),

(162) Tonic Snell, Tokenism: The Result of Diversity Without Inclusion, MEDIUM (May 30, 2017), https://medium.eom/@TonieSncll/tokenism-the-result-of-diversity-without-inclusion-460061db1cb6 (defining tokenism as "the practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to do a particular thing, especially by recruiting a small number of people from un-derrepresenled groups in order to give the appearance of sexual or racial equality within a workforce").

(163) Eric Liu, How Boomers Left us with an Ethical Deficit, THE ATLANTIC (Sept. 24, 2010),

(164) Grover Norquist started Americans for Tax Reform in 1985, but the now-famous pledge that GOP candidates have been expected to sign did not come into being until the early 1990s. It is a 65-word lifetime pledge that has been signed by a majority of Republican Congressmen, by which the candidate commits to never raising taxes. Breaking the pledge means punishment at the ballot box. As recently as 2012, Grover Norquist was referred to as '"the most powerful man in Washington DC' or even America."" See David A. Graham. Groverdammerung: A Timeline of GOP Snubs of the No-Tax-Raise Pledge, THE ATLANTIC (Nov. 26, 2012), https://www.theallantie.eom/politics/archive/2012/11/groverd-mmerung-a-timeline-of-gop-snubs-of-the-no-tax-raisc-pledge/265562/; see also Shane Goldtnacher, Grover Norqutst: Father of the Blood Oath, NAT'L J. (Oct 2, 2013),

(165) It is worth noting, at this point, that the Taxpayer Reform Act of 1986 was revenue neutral--unlike the deficit-fueling Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Harvey Galper, The TCJA has Replaced The 1986 Tax Act, hut is it Tax Reform?, TAX POL'Y CTR (Mar. 30, 2018),

(166) James R Knickman & Emily K Snell, The 2030 Problem: Caring for Aging Baby Boomers, 37 HEALTH SERV. RES. 849, 849 (2002),

(167) Steven Brill, How Baby Boomers Broke America, TIME (May 17, 2018), ("most are deployed to block anything that would tax, regulate or otherwise threaten a deep-pocketed client").


(169) Id. at 10-13.

(170) See id. at 11.

(171) Bill Chappell, U.S. National Debt Hits Record $22 Trillion, NPR (Feb. 13, 2019),

(172) Over the next 10 years, annual federal deficits--when Congress spends more than it takes in through tax revenues--are expected to average $1.2 trillion, which would be 4.4 percent of gross domestic product. That's far higher than the 2.9 percent of GDP that has been the average for the past 50 years. 'Other than the period immediately after World War 11, the only other time the average deficit has been so large over so many years was after the 2007-2009 recession,' the CBO said last month." Id.

(173) Friedman, supra note 15; The Student Debt Crisis: Could It Slow the U.S. Economy?, THE WHARTON SCHOOL AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA (Oct. 22. 2018),

(174) Baby Boomers: Did They Put Their Economic and Political Needs First?. HUFFPOST (Mar. 20, 201 7), htlps://

(175) Sara B. Potter, What Would a Transfer of Power From Baby Boomers to Generation X Look Like?, FACTSET (Feb. 6, 2018), hltps://

(176) Niall Ferguson & Eyck Freymann, The Coming Generation War, THE ATLANTIC (May 6, 2019),

(177) Drew DeSilver, Millennials, Gen X increase their ranks in the House, especially among Democrats, PEW RES. OR. (Nov. 21, 2018),

(178) Federal Individual Income Tax Rates History, TAX FOUND. (2014), individualralehistory_nominal.pdf.

(179) In the 1950s, top 1% income earners paid 40%-45% of their pretax income in taxes, while bottom 50% earners paid 15-20%. The gap is much smaller today: top earners pay about 30%-35% of their income in taxes, while bottom 50% earners pay around 25%." Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, & Gabriel Zucman, Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States, 133 Q.J. ECON. 553, 600 (2018),

(180) Thomas L. Hungerford, Corporate tax rates and economic growth since 1947, ECON. POL'Y INST. (June 4, 2013),; Federal Corporate Income Tax Rates, Income Years 1909-2012, TAX FOUNDATION (July 6, 2012),

(181) Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, 26 U.S.C.A. [section] 11 (2017).

(182) "The 2017 tax law will cost $1.9 trillion from 2018 to 2027, according to CBO. The law could generate additional economic growth to offset a small share of this revenue loss, CBO estimates, but after adding interest costs from the new debt that the law will incur, it will still add $1.9 trillion to the deficit." Corporate Tax Cut Benefits Wealthiest. Loses Needed Revenue, and Encourages Tax Avoidance, CTR. ON BUDGET AND POL'Y PRIORITIES (June 13, 2018), research/ federal-tax/corporate-tax-cut -benefits- wealthiest-loses-needed-revenue-and-encourages-lax.

(183) Louis Jacobson, Bernie Sanders says tax share paid by corporations has fallen from 33% to 9% since 1952. POLITIFACT (Aug. 28, 2014, 5:16 PM),

(184) The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2019 to 2029 (2019), CONG. BUS. OPT.,

(185) Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, 117 Stat. 752 (2003).

(186) Data for this chart compiled from a number of sources: INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, SOI TAX STATS - ESTATE TAX STATISTICS FILING YEAR TBL 1 (2018),; Federal Estate and Gift Tax Rates, Exemptions, and Exclusions, 1916-2014, TAX FOUND. (Feb. 4, 2014), hltps://; How many people pay the estate tax?, TAX POL'Y CTR., (last visited May 19, 2019); JOINT COMM. ON TAXATION, HISTORY, PRESENT LAW, AND ANALYSIS OF THE FEDERAL WEALTH TRANSFER SYSTEM (2015); D.B. Jacobson, B.G. Raub, & B.W. Johnson, The Estate Tax: Ninety Years and Counting, INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE,; Richard Phillips & Steve Wamhoff, The Federal Estate Tax: An Important Progressive Revenue Source, INST.ON TAX. & ECON. POL'Y (Dec. 6, 2018),

(187) Meredith Turks, Are millennials on track to become the richest generation?, BBC (Dec. 6, 2018),

(188) GIBNEY, supra note 4 at 10.

(189) Estimates keep the deficit above $1 trillion from 2019 through at least 2022. OFF. OF MGMT. AND BUDGET, HISTORICAL TABLES TBL 1.1 (last accessed Oct. 22, 2019),

(190) Kimbcrly Amadeo, National Debt by Year Compared to GDP and Major Events, THE BALANCE (May 7, 2019),; see also Jeff Cox, That $22 trillion national debt number is huge, but here's what it really means, CNBC (Feb. 13, 2019, 10:29 AM), ("President Barack Obama's administration racked up nearly as much debt in eight years than in the entire 232-year history of the country before he took office. He entered with $10.6 trillion in total debt and left with the country owing $19.9 trillion. That's an average tab of $1.16 trillion a year.").

(191) Id.

(192) Yes, as a practical matter, a taxpayer is tendering cash (currently) for a promise (in the future) that payments will be made--which is, as a practical matter, a debt. But as a legal matter, retirees have no legal entitlements to Social Security payments and so it is not treated as a debt. GIBNEY, supra note 4 at 162-63.

(193) Steven Brill, How Baby Boomers Broke America, TIME (May 17 2018), ("American meritocracy has thus become precisely what it was invented to combat," Markovits concluded, "a mechanism for the dynastic transmission of wealth and privilege across generations. Meritocracy now constitutes a modern-day aristocracy.").

(194) Savannah Smith, Pete Buttigieg wants 'intergenerational justice.' What's that?, NBC NEWS (Mar. 9, 2019), ("When Pete Buttigieg...launched his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, a key part of his pitch seemed tailor-made to appeal to fellow millennials: "intergenerational justice"... [w]hile Buttigieg has been careful not to offer specific plans, he said, "It's hard to think of a policy issue out there where this isn't at stake.").

(195) Ben Schiller, Baby Boomers Stole The American Dream, But Young People Can Take It Back, FAST COMPANY (Mar. 22, 2018). hltps:// ("[T]he boomers have satisfied their needs by squandering our inheritance. They've passed unfunded tax cuts that we'll be paying off for years. They've protected Social Security checks while leaving us with trillions in student debts. They've waged NIMBY campaigns against new housing while protecting the value of their condos. They've elected pussy-grabbers and child molesters while lecturing us about personal responsibility.").

(196) Two 2020 Democratic candidates for President are both proposing major overhauls of higher education financing (i.e. student loan debt and free college proposals) that require substantial revenue to be raised through the tax system. See Matthew Yglesias, Democrats' ongoing argument about free college, explained, VOX (Jun 24, 2019),

(197) Brad Henry, State of the State Address (Feb. 7, 2005), ("No other investment yields as great a return as the investment in education. An educated workforce is the foundation of every community and the future of every economy.").


(199) LAURENCE J. KOTLIKOFF, GENERATIONAL ACCOUNTING: KNOWING WHO PAYS, AND WHEN, FOR WHAT WE SPEND 218-219 (1992); Kathy Ruffing, Paul N. Van De Water, & Richard Kogan, "Generational Accounting" Is Complex, Confusing, and Uninformative, CTR. ON BUDGET AND POL'Y PRIORITIES (Feb. 6, 2014). ("Generational accounting purports to compare the effects of budget policies on people born in different years, but it suffers from numerous problems of complexity, logic, and validity. It's hard to interpret and easily misunderstood, and including it in regular budget reports and cost estimates, as the proposed Intergenerational Financial Obligations Reform (INFORM) Act would require, would be a mistake. Developed by a group of economists in the early 1990s, generational accounting was supposed to provide useful information that standard budget presentations did not--with some proponents even advocating that generational accounting replace those standard presentations. But. in fact, generational accounting provides little valuable information, and few budget analysts have made use of this approach.").

(200) Michael Doran, Intergenerational Equity in Fiscal Policy Reform, 61 TAX L. REV. 241 (2008) ("It might be objected that this criticism sets an unnecessarily high standard for making normative evaluations about intergenerational equity. Pushed to the extreme, it suggests that evaluative statements about intergenerational equity cannot be made unless one can account for all conceivable transfers between and among generations, which is plainly not practicable.").

(201) Id.

(203) Id.

(204) The Student Debt Crisis: Could It Slow the U.S. Economy?, THE WHARTON SCHOOL AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA (Oct. 22, 2018),

(205) The legislative foundation of the modern student loan program is the Higher Education Act of 1965.

(206) "If Roosevelt was right, and demographics are destiny, then the Democrats are going to inherit a windfall. Ten years from now, if current population trends hold, Gen Z and Millennial together will make up a majority of the American voting-age population. Twenty years from now, by 2039, they will represent 62 percent of all eligible voters." Niall Ferguson & Eyck Freymann, The Coining Generation War: The Democrats are rapidly becoming the party of the young--and the consequences could he profound., THE ATLANTIC (May 6, 2019),

(207) This amount doubles to $22.36 million for a married couple. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, 26 U.S.C.A. [section][section] 2010 (2017).

(208) A hated tax hut a fair one. THE ECONOMIST (Nov. 23, 2017),

(209) Leonard E. Burman, Robert McClelland, & Chenxi Lu, The Effects of Estate and Inheritance Taxes on Enlrepreneurship, TAX POL'Y CTR. (Mar. 5, 2018), htlps://

(210) In effect, a taxpayer may make a gift of $11 million to her child today and have it be free from transfer tax. Even if levels revert to the pre-2018 amount of $6 million, the taxpayer has received the benefit of removing roughly $5 million from her estate lax-free. Press Release, Internal Revenue Service, Treasury, IRS: Making large gifts now won't harm estates after 2025 (Nov. 20, 2018),

(211) A hated tax hut a fair one, supra note 208.

(212) It was estimated that only one-fifth of one percent of those who died in 2013 were paying estate and gift tax. or specifically, 4,700 taxable estates out of 2.6 million deaths. Under this proposal, 99.7% of decedents would continue to owe no estate and gift tax. HOUSE COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS, THE SENSIBLE ESTATE TAX ACT OF 2016 (2016).

(213) Ashlea Ebeling, Bernie Sanders Calls For 65% Top Estate Tax Rate, FORBES (June 25, 2015). hups://

(214) Alan Cole & Scott Greenberg, Details and Analysis of Senator Bemie's Tax Plan, TAX FOUND. (January 28. 2016),

(215) Carmin Chappell, Bernie Sanders proposes a big hike in the estate tax, including a 77% rate for over $1 billion, CNBC (Jan. 31. 2019),

(216) Id.

(217) Press Release, United States Senate, Booker Announces New Bill Aimed at Combating Wealth Inequality (Oct. 22, 2018),

(218) 55% for amounts over $1 million, 60% for estates over $13 million, and 65% for estates over $93 million. American Housing and Economic Mobility Act of 2018, S.3503. 115th Cong. [section] 402 (2018). doc/2018.9.24%20Housing%20Bill%20Tcxt.pdf.

(219) The estimated threshold amount to be in the top 0.01% as of 2012 is $20,561,000. Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman, Wealth Inequality in the United States since 1913: Evidence from Capitalized Income Tax, 131 QUARTERLY J. OF ECON. app. at 248 (2016),

(220) "A tax unit is either a single person aged 20 or above or a married couple, in both cases with children dependents if any." Because there are 313.9 million residents and 160.7 million tax units (or households, for our purposes), it can be extrapolated that the top 5% is 15.695 million. Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman, Wealth Inequality in the United States since 1913: Evidence from Capitalized Income Tax, 131 QUARTERLY J. OF ECON. 519, 530 (2016), https://acadcmic.oup.eom/qje/article/131/2/519/2607097.

(221) Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman, Wealth Inequality in the United States since 1913: Evidencefrom Capitalized Income Tax, 131 QUARTERLY J. OF ECON. app. at 110(2016),

(222) Id. at 246.

(223) Id. at 252.

(224) The annual mortality rates for 2004-2008 are estimated to be 2.76% and 8.47% for men (65-79, and 80+) and 1.99% and 7.22% for women (65-79, and 80+). Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman, id. at 377.

(225) 110.6 million people in America over the age of 18 in 2016 are unmarried, which means never married, widowed or divorced. Of this number. 19.5 million are aged 65 and older. Assuming that 5% of this number may be included in the top 5% of households, which is admittedly an imperfect estimate (as substantially more or less may be unmarried in this category over the age of 65), that means that 975,000 are unmarried and receive the benefit of one lifetime exemption--or 6.21%. This number seems low, given that 15% of people over 65 are divorced or separated in 2017, and so I adjusted the number up to 10% for the purposes of calculations. U.S. DEP'T OF COM., UNMARRIED AND SINGLE AMERICANS WEEK: SEPT. 17-23, 2017 (2017),; ADMIN. FOR COMMUNITY LIVING, 2017 PROFILE


(226) By shuffling his company stock in and out of more than 30 trusts, [Sheldon Adelson] has given his heirs at least $7.9 billion while legally avoiding about $2.8 billion in U.S. gift taxes since 2010, according to calculations based on data in Adelson's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission." Zachary R. Mider, GRA T shelters: An accidental tax break for America's wealthiest, WASH. POST (Dec. 28, 2013),

(227) Chye-Ching Huang & Chloe Cho, Ten Facts You Should Know About the Federal Estate Tax, CTR. ON BUDGET AND POL'Y PRIORITIES (Oct. 30, 2017),

(228) It not a tax that is imposed upon a decedent, because in all fairness, one cannot force a corpse to pay a tax bill. It is a tax that is technically paid by the estate of the decedent, but the incidence of the tax falls upon the beneficiaries.

LARRY BARTELS, UNEQUAL DEMOCRACY: THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF THE NEW GILDED AGE 192 (2008) (noting that "major survey organizations seem to have ignored the issue before the mid-1990s).

(230) Karlyn Bowman, Eliminating The Estate Tax: Where Is The Public?, FORBES (Oct. 31, 2017),

(231) Mayling Birney, Michael J. Graetz & Ian Shapiro, Public Opinion and the Push to Repeal the Estate Tax. 59 Nat'l Tax J. 439, 441 (2006),

(232) Ilyana Kuziemko, Michael I. Norton, Emmanuel Saez, & Stefanie Stantcheva, How Elastic Are Preferences for Redistribution? Evidence from Randomized Survey Experiments, 105 AM. ECON. REV. 1478, 1480 (2015),

(233) Mayling Birney, Michael J. Graetz & Ian Shapiro, Public Opinion and the Push to Repeal the Estate Tax, 59 Nat'l Tax .1. 439, 441 (2006),

(234) Id.

(235) Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform... once told National Public Radio: "1 don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." Paul Krugman, The Tax-Cut Con, N.Y. TIMES MAO. (Sept. 14, 2003),

(236) The top individual income tax rate of 35% is half of what the highest bracket was in the 1970s, and with the exception of a brief five year period in the late 1980s, is the lowest rate that has been imposed in this highest bracket since 1932. Id.

(237) The idea of earmarking is controversial, interesting, and very much outside of the scope of this article. Though such ideas are often left for another day, and may or may not be addressed in later pieces, the draft exploring the idea of earmarking is already half written.

(238) Frank S. Alexander, Financing Affordable Housing in Georgia: The Possibility of A Dedicated Revenue Source, 13 GA. ST. U. L. REV. 363, 381 (1997); George R. Crowley & Adam J. Hoffer, Earmarking Tax Revenues: Leviathan 's Secret Weapon?, in FOR YOUR OWN GOOD: TAXES, PATERNALISM, AND FISCAL DISCRIMINATION IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY (Adam J. Hoffer & Todd Nesbit eds. 2018), id=3171202.

(239) Frank S. Alexander, Financing Affordable Housing in Georgia: The Possibility of A Dedicated Revenue Source, 13 GA. ST. U. L. REV. 363, 383 (1997).

(240) Sam Mitha, Hypothecation, health taxation and hysteresis. TAX J. (Apr. 25, 2018),

(241) Abby Gilbert, Hypothecated taxes: Shifting from crisis to prevention, COMMON VISION, (last visited July 11, 2019).

(242) Sam Mitha, Hypothecation, health taxation and hysteresis, TAX J. (Apr. 25, 2018), htttps://

(243) J.K. Summers & L.M. Smith, The Role of Social and Intergenerational Equity in Making Changes in Hitman Well-Being Sustainable. 43 AMI3I0 718, 718 (2014),


Joseph J. Thomdike, Tax History: Soak the Kids: Taxes, Debt, and Intergenerational Equity, TAXANALYSTS (May 19. 2011).


(247) Each generation is thus both a trustee for the planet with obligations to care for it and a beneficiary with rights to use it." Edith Brown Weiss, Our Rights and Obligations to Future Generations for the Environment. 84 AM. J. INT'L L. 198. 200-01 (1990).

(248) "68% think that government--as opposed to business, community, or other institutions--should play a major role in the future in making college education affordable." John Immerwahr, The Affordability of Higher Education: A Review of Recent Survey Research, THE NAT'L OR. FOR PUBLIC POL'Y AND HIGHER EDUC. (2002),

(249) Why? Because saving our way to success usually only works to address the most pressing and immediate issues, and adding to an already staggering deficit should not be an option.
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Author:Haneman, Victoria J.
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Date:Dec 22, 2019

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