Public policy is a powerful tool, but the two things policy can’t beat are technology and demographics. We’re used to thinking about technology, because the benefits are distributed according to whoever understands it best. Demographics are different: the edge from understanding them isn’t big, except perhaps for market-timers. Certainly, fast food restaurateurs made money in the 50s and 60s taking advantage of the bulging teen labor force, but it’s unlikely that they planned it that way. On the flip side, when dependency ratios go down (i.e. there are more retirees per worker — which is happening in every developed country over the next century), it means redistribution away from workers. Policy gives you a menu of options, from left redistribution via pension and welfare or right-redistribution via 401ks and reverse mortgages, but either way, the population of non-working spenders will rise.