As has been the case throughout most of our nation’s history, the public debate on immigration is fueled by emotion a helluva lot more than it is by logic. But former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich cuts through the heat to suggest how our immigration policy can have a significant impact on our efforts to assure long term solvency for Social Security and Medicare:
Forty years ago there were five workers for every retiree. Now there are three. Within a couple of decades, there will be only two workers per retiree. There’s no way just two workers will be able or willing to pay enough payroll taxes to keep benefits flowing to every retiree.
This is where immigration comes in. Most immigrants are young because the impoverished countries they come from are demographically the opposite of rich countries. Rather than aging populations, their populations are bursting with young people.
Yes, I know: There aren’t enough jobs right now even for Americans who want and need them. But once the American economy recovers, there will be. Take a long-term view and most new immigrants to the U.S. will be working for many decades.
Get it? One logical way to deal with the crisis of funding Social Security and Medicare is to have more workers per retiree, and the simplest way to do that is to allow more immigrants into the United States.
Immigration reform and entitlement reform have a lot to do with one another.
But then, why be logical about such things when there’s so much to gain politically by blaming brown people for our economic woes.