"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Forgotten Elephants

I commented to the Regular Wife this morning that one of the reasons I can't stand the debate over immigration reform (or gay marriage or Obamacare implementation or any of the other current distractions) is that we've lost sight of the elephants in the room.   In my mind there are at least two giant, angry elephants stampeding toward us:

1. The Debt.   Why is Congress spending any time at all on immigration reform when it simply doesn't matter whether we have open borders or not if our country goes broke?   Our projected national deficit for 2013 is well over $750 billion -- and that's significantly down from the previously four  years of trillion dollar plus deficits and almost $200 billion below what the White House estimated earlier this year.   (Of course, you have to ask yourself whether a federal government that can't predict its own deficit within $200 billion dollars should be trusted with any of our hardearned money at all.)   But, still... $750 billion.   In Obama's first five years, we will have added more than $5 trillion to our national debt.   By the end of his two terms, even under his rosiest scenarios, we will have added $7 trillion to our debt.   And that's before the "train wreck" of Obamacare starts sucking us dry.     

That's not good.

2. The Dearth of Babies.   According to this article from yesterday, 2012 had the lowest birthrate for America on record.   People aren't getting married, they aren't having children, they aren't having big families.   Put bluntly, young people aren't betting on America's future.

The problem is that the "bet" I'm talking about becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.   If your country is wildly in debt, particularly for entitlements promised to the non-working elderly, but young people simultaneously aren't having children, you are in a death spiral.   It has happened many times in self-contained industries with their pensions, where a union pension plan simply doesn't have enough workers anymore to pay into a plan to pay for the benefits promised to retirees.   It is going to happen to us, writ large.   And by "writ large," I mean epically, catastrophically, world-historical, Dark Ages large.

How big?   This big.

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