First up, Matt Yglesias on How to Run America Like a Business:
If you’re trying to look at America from a balance-sheet perspective the problem is very clear. It’s not “entitlements” and it’s not “Social Security” and it’s not “Medicare” and it’s not “health care costs” it’s the existence of old people. Old people, generally speaking, don’t produce anything of economic value. They sit around, retired, consuming goods and services and produce nothing but the occasional turn at babysitting. The optimal economic growth policy isn’t to slash Social Security or Medicare benefits, it’s to euthanize 70 year-olds and harvest their organs for auction. With that in place, you could cut taxes and massively ramp-up investments in physical infrastructure, early childhood education, and be on easy street.
There’s an element of satire involved here, of course. But in my view the growing entitlement crisis is one of the reasons I worry about the eventual acceptance of euthenasia throughout the United States (the other being the temptation the children of baby boomers will have to euthanize their parents as a kind of revenge for killing off their brothers and sisters via abortion).
Anywho, as Ezra Klein notes, there is a way to take at least some of the pressure off on the entitlement front:
The opposite of “fewer old people” is “more young people.” There’s a straightforward way to make more young people, of course, but it’s best that the federal government doesn’t involve itself in it. Slightly less straightforward, but more proper for policymakers to consider, is allowing more young immigrants to come to America. Other countries have lots of young people, and a good percentage of those young people would like to live here. They’d like to live here so much that they’ll risk their lives to come here illegally and work for pitiful wages under the constant threat of deportation.
One of the puzzling elements of the immigration debate is that people find it intuitive that a high birthrate is good for the economy and unintuitive that more immigration is good for the economy. But immigrants, if anything, are less competitive with native workers than, well, native workers are. And there are so many of them, and they have all sorts of different skill levels and age profiles. If you want to think of America like a business, we’re a business with an envious advantage: an enormous number of talented people want to work for us, and they’re willing to pay us for the privilege. We should take advantage of it.