A. Medicare and Social Security are both well-loved but ill-conceived programs. As our population ages and retirees live longer, beneficiaries are putting increased strains on those paying into the system far beyond anything that was originally anticipated. The unfunded liabilities of both programs dwarf the official national debt and unless some changes are made, these programs will soon gobble up our country’s capacity to spend on anything else. The problem, of course, is that special interest groups have prevented any meaningful reform of either of these programs and both parties pillory political opponents who even propose any changes. I’ll try to avoid that trap here. These issues can only be solved when members of both parties recognize the magnitude of the problem and agree to work in a bipartisan way to address them. I think that that time is near, but events playing out in Congress demonstrate that we are not there yet. The President’s health care proposals effectively perpetuate the Ponzi scheme-like character that epitomizes both Social Security and Medicare. Ultimately, the answer will require some mechanism for individuals to set aside a portion of their own income for their own retirement and health care. Only when individuals have some responsibility for their own well-being will we be able to get a handle on skyrocketing costs. In the meantime, we must guarantee benefits to those already in these programs or nearing retirement. Eventually, younger workers will need a new program to replace these existing entitlements.