The third rail of a nation’s politics is a metaphor for any issue so controversial that it is “charged” and “untouchable” to the extent that any politician or public official who dares to broach the subject will invariably suffer politically.
Politicians created many programs over the years that have become ingrained in our society. Social Security and Medicare are the largest. The current retired generation thinks it has paid for these programs, but it has not.
The fiscal condition of these programs is dismal and getting worse because of the lack of prudent changes over many years. Simply put, doing the right thing is prevented by the third rail and the desire to buy votes by avoiding the truth and pushing problems past the next election.
Dependency breeds fear, the fear of losing something on which you are dependent and so you seek to prevent that by punishing anyone who threatens what you depend on. It’s quite understandable when people in fact are dependent on things like Social Security and Medicare. But that doesn’t make problems go away, that doesn’t eliminate the need to take action to fix things or that it’s not only the current retired generation to consider, but future generations as well.