Thursday, December 4, 2008

Homeland, Part 3, Where I Get All Wonkish.

As a follow up to the previous posts (1, 2) about Homeland Security, it may be helpful to explain why I care so much about immigration reform in the US, or more precisely, why Americans should care more about immigration reform in the US.

To put it bluntly:  because this country needs more young people to survive.  Yes, seriously.  Bear with me.

Medicare, the health care program for people over 65, is a good case in point.  The vast majority of the funding for the benefit that covers hospitalization (known as Part A), comes from payroll taxes.  You may know know this, but every month a small percentage of your paycheck goes to the Medicare trust fund.  As a rational prudent person you may live happily thinking that all the money you're putting aside for Medicare is sitting somewhere - in that Trust - waiting for you to turn 65.  Except that is not the case at all.  The money you're paying now is being used to pay for Medicare expenses of your grandparents (which makes sense if you think about the fact that when the program was established they didn't want to wait around for a generation of people to earn their Medicare bucks before turning 65, but I digress).  That wouldn't necessarily be a problem, if it wasn't for the baby boomers - the massive generation born after WW2, which is about to go all senile on us any minute now and in the process planning to deplete the Medicare Trust fund by 2019.  In short:  forget about ever seeing any of that money back and be prepared to pay for hospital bills on your own!  Or, in the slightly more sophisticated language of the KFF:
Over the longer term, an aging population, a decline in the number of workers per beneficiary, and increasing life expectancy will present fiscal challenges for Medicare. From 2010 to 2030, the number of people on Medicare is projected to rise from 46 million to 78 million, while the number of workers to support beneficiaries is projected to decline from 3.7 workers per beneficiary to 2.4 workers per beneficiary.
And Medicare is just one example.  Social security is another headache or, in government budget speak, unfunded liability.  Combined and rounded up, all these babies add up to about $57 trillion, a figure so large that the only thing you can do about it is pray that you never have to worry about it, or that you die before you do.  

Or, as I suggest, start taking steps to systematically replenish what one might euphemistically call the deteriorating demographic profile of the country, ie, import young smart labor (alternatively we could start adopting massive quantities of babies from around the world, but seriously, how many Brangelinas are there out there?).  

I hope that helps put a slightly less self-serving spin on my interest in immigration reform.  This country needs it, desparately.

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