Friday, August 20, 2010

Dropping Anchors

Many on the right are currently pushing two agendas that contradict one another.  How do I know this?  I read, and one of my closest friends is the smartest man in the universe.

Agenda #1: Re-jigger the 14th Amendment so that people who are born in this country do not automatically become citizens, if their parents are not already citizens.  The idea is that illegal immigrants are crossing the border to drop so-called "anchor babies" who, as citizens, can enable their parents to stay in the U.S.  Leaving aside the notion that it's really not at all that simple, we can examine in the context of another agenda item...

Agenda #2: Social Security is insolvent, and the only way to save it is to ___________.  Some fill the blank with extending the retirement age, some with privatization, some with means testing, etc...

TSMITU* pointed out to me that the problem with Social Security is not, as many claim, that the population is aging.  It is, but the system is one where young people support old people with their current contributions.  So the real problem is that the demographics of our country are shifting.  In the 40's, there were 8 people in the workforce for every person in retirement.  This balance has been shifting steadily over the decades since, and we are rapidly approaching a ratio of 2 people working for every retiree.  In other words, the problem is not too many old people, it is too many old people for the number of young ones.

Illegal immigrants tend to be on the young side.  Elderly people don't cross the border in the back of Coyote trucks, and older (let's say it) Mexican citizens tend to be better-established in their own country, and have less reason to seek work in the states.  Still, the average age of an un-documented worker is 39, which, statistically means that they shift our national average age by only 4 months in the young direction (Source: Center for Immigration Studies) .  Their babies, of course are another matter.

Whatever your view on immigration is, whether you want undocumented workers in this country or not, if you want to save Social Security you want their babies, and you want them to be citizens paying into the system.

Thank you F.T.


*The aforementioned Smartest Man in The Universe, one of my oldest and dearest friends, Dr. Frank Tamburine.