In case you missed it a massive tidal wave of change has recently been acknowledged by the Federal Government of Canada.

On Thursday March 29, 2012 the Conservative Federal Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty introduced his budget in the House of Commons. Whatever one thinks about the solutions this budget proposes to the challenges currently confronting by our nation, Mr. Flaherty has to be given credit for facing the fact that the world has changed and those changes must be addressed.

I do not often agree with Margaret Wente, but in today’s “Globe and Mail” she describes with painful honesty and uncomfortable clarity, the challenge Mr. Flaherty is beginning to attempt to address in his budget.

Wente’s article should be read in its entirety here:

She presents her sobering thesis at the end of the article.

We boomers have been the biggest winners from the social-welfare state. Today that state is stacked against the young. In Canada, we spend twice as much of our national income on health care as we do on education – but health care mainly benefits the old. According to a recent C.D. Howe report, annual health-care costs for a person over 65 are three to four times greater than for someone under 44. For a person over 85, they’re 12 times greater. As the boomers age, the math gets ugly. By the 2020s, nearly 17 per cent of Canada’s GDP will be spent on health care – up from 12 per cent today.

You know where this is going, don’t you? The welfare state as we know it can’t last. The rollbacks to the OAS are just the start of broader changes. Some time in the next few years everybody will have to start paying more for health care, through higher taxes, private insurance, means testing, user fees or some mix of those things. This will affect future generations a lot more than it will us. The boomers’ kids, and grandkids, will never get a deal as good as we have.

Should we boomers feel guilty about this? I think so. We like to say we earned it, and I guess, in part, we did. But we also won the birth-year lottery. Perhaps we shouldn’t cling so stubbornly to our entitlements. Perhaps we owe something to the future. Perhaps it’s time to pay it forward.

There is no doubt, my generation has been blessed. And there is no question, we have often failed to be good stewards of those blessings entrusted to us. It is entirely appropriate for us to bear some sense of guilt for the misuse to which we have put the abundance entrusted to us.

There is a sad irony to the reality that, we boomers are not primarily the ones who are going to pay for the selfishness and greed that have characterized much of our generation. We have not been quick to practice the same measure of self-sacrifice that enabled the wealth we inherited to accumulate. So Wente’s suggestion that we might begin to “pay it forward”, has considerable merit.

A little generosity from those of us who have gobbled up so much of the earth’s bounty, might begin to redeem some of the mess we are leaving to future generations.