A few weeks ago, I cited a statement from Angela Davis, former president of the US communist party, that the refugee movement would be the movement of the 21st Century. While correct, this is part of a larger issue: demographics. Demographics will be, I believe, the single most important issue of the 21st Century. Absent significant and widely available treatments to expand life spans, the world population will peak mid-Century at just over 9 billion, and start to decline, because of the crash of birthrates all over the world. However, before the decline sets in, and well afterward, there will be a bulge of old and elderly people. This will lead to general economic decline for various reasons:
- First, and foremost, is the drain on the economy and workers to support a burgeoning number of retirees/pensioners. This is not an insignificant drain. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) reports that in 2013, national healthcare expenditures ("NHE") totaled $2.9 trillion, accounting for 17.4% of total GDP. NHE is anticipated to grow at an average rate of 5.7% through 2023, outpacing the growth of GDP, to account for 19.3% of GDP by 2023. (Note that these projections are several years old, and undoubtedly are optimistic in both underestimating growth of costs, and overestimating economic growth). The same source indicates that in 2010, the average yearly per person cost of care in the United States for an elderly person were 5 times that spent on children and 3 times that of someone of working age. The Social Security Administration reports that social security and medicare accounted for 41% of Federal expenditures in 2013. The same report warns: " Neither Medicare nor Social Security can sustain projected long-run program costs in full under currently scheduled financing, and legislative changes are necessary to avoid disruptive consequences for beneficiaries and taxpayers." And then there are the overburdened public pension funds of states, cities, and other local governments that are edging toward crises. The basic gist, though, is that "As a nation’s population ages, more and more older people may draw from support systems such as Social Security, yet fewer workers may be around to pay into those systems. The problem is more dire than we think. The ratio of workers to retirees will drop precipitously in numerous countries worldwide this century, potentially sending nations into a financial tailspin."
- The high taxes needed to maintain the system not only drain funds away from essential government services, but, because the funds necessarily comes from taxpayers and workers (workers that otherwise not pay income tax must nevertheless pay employment taxes). This represents not only money that would otherwise have been spent in investments that would build the economy, but is a significant drain on what otherwise would have been disposable income.
- All other things being equal, as the number of workers declines vis-a-vis the number or retirees, the per capita GDP also declines.
- Most economies rely on consumer spending, whether from within their own nation or, for export nations, from within those countries to whom they export. Although the consumption of health goods and services increase in the elderly, consumption of other goods and services decrease. (See, e.g., here, here, and here; although this study is from 1990, it also explores this issue). Thus, as the population ages, overall consumer demand will decrease, further depressing economic growth and demand for international trade.
Western nations have attempted to resolve the issue through immigration: import a younger population of workers (with the added benefit of having to pay the workers less). There are, however, two general problems with this approach: workers of overall lower education and ability, and populations that have no cultural investment in the host nation. Moreover, there is no evidence that the strategy works over the long term. As we can see in the few studies on the subject, the uneducated or undereducated immigrants often consume more resources than they contribute to the economy (further exacerbated when much of their money goes oversees in the form of remittances to family in the native country). This policy of allowing runaway immigration to jump start an economy stagnating due to declining native populations did not work in the Roman Empire, it has not worked in Europe, and will not work in the United States. Absent stopping the import at an early level (e.g., the ban in importing slaves into the U.S. in 1808), or eliminating the immigrant population (the Islamic solution to stymie the growth of slave populations), the result has always been, not assimilation, but a population of aliens hostile to the native peoples and culture, with the ultimate result of dissolution of the host nation. To expect a different outcome now is madness.
A reasonable person might suggest that a nation facing declining populations might attempt to stabilize the population by encouraging the formation and maintenance of families. But this is where the madness is most manifest. No-fault divorce has destroyed the family by making it easy to dissolve a family, and reducing the incentive to form a family in the first instance. This has been exacerbated by the unfair weight in favor of women in divorce proceedings. The costs of raising a family has increased in real terms (for instance, because of car seat laws, instead of squeezing another child into the back seat of your car, you now have to buy a larger car), while the rewards (both economic and social) have declined. Of course, seeing this, a larger number of young adults have forsworn children and/or marriage.
But it does not stop there. Going back to the news story I cited at the beginning, we now live in a nation that requires states to recognize gay marriage. Ironically, the court opinion begins by recognizing the importance of marriage, stating:
“No union is more profound than marriage,” Kennedy wrote, joined by the court’s four more liberal justices.
“From their beginning to their most recent page, the annals of human history reveal the transcendent importance of marriage. The lifelong union of a man and a woman always has promised nobility and dignity to all persons, without regard to their station in life. Marriage is sacred to those who live by their religions and offers unique fulfillment to those who find meaning in the secular realm. Its dynamic allows two people to find a life that could not be found alone, for a marriage becomes greater than just the two persons. Rising from the most basic human needs, marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations,” Kennedy wrote.Of course, when the Court begins with a statement of the absolute important of a thing, it is because they are about to take that thing away. (If you have a chance to peruse the Court decisions where they determine that school students do not have certain rights while at schools, the Court will nearly always begin by recognizing that students do not leave their Constitutional rights at the school door, just before they take another of those rights away). And such is the case here. After recognizing the importance of marriage (speaking of course, of traditional marriage), they then essentially argue, "but what the hell, let's get rid of it anyway."
But the madness will not stop there. Canada legalized gay marriage 10 years ago, and the result has been an increasing attack and censure of religious organizations. Why should this matter? Because, people of faith reproduce at much higher rates than godless liberals. An attack on religious institutions, and the people that comprise those religions, is an attack on families and a new generation of workers--i.e., an attack on the very people and institutions necessary to arrest the decline in population.
Such is the madness.