Without immigration, the population growth of the United States and every other industrialized nation of the world is negative. At the same time, people are living longer. People have this idea that they can still retire at 60, and then live on savings another 40 years.
If the social security fund hadn’t been robbed, and if people actually were saving at sufficient levels this still wouldn’t work! Why not you ask?
The reason is something that people just don’t get, MONEY IS NOT GOODS AND SERVICES. Money is ONLY a mechanism for facilitating the movement of goods and services. You can’t eat money, you can’t wear it, well not in practical terms, and you can’t use it for shelter. You can’t use it to cure your medical ailments. You can use it to trade for these things, but only to the degree these things actually exist!
If you’ve got fewer people producing and more people consuming, the amount of goods and services available to each person decreases. If social security was fully funded, if peoples savings were adequate; but people retire and people don’t enter the labor market to replace them, the amount of goods and services available will be less and as a result that money will simply become worth less, in other words, all you’d get is rampant inflation.
There are a number of potential solutions to this problem, allow more people to enter the labor market from foreign countries. This works as long as there are enough people who want to come here and we can successfully integrate them into our population. Or, become more efficient with our use of labor, produce more goods and services from less human effort. To do that, we need to rely to a greater degree on automation and reduce waste and inefficiency. For instance, eliminate the 3-1/2 trillion dollar war we’re waging in Iraq and wars that most likely will follow if we don’t make a severe course change. If we can’t do either of those the only other option is for people to delay retirement, even to bring some of the retired out of retirement back into the labor market.
People must start recognizing money for what it is; a means of exchanging goods and services, not a substitute or proxy for those goods or services. A shortage of money in the economy will prevent goods and services from moving and interfere with their production, but more money in the economy than necessary will not improve productivity, it only contributes to rampant inflation.
So we’re going to have to get smarter, automate to a greater degree, and that’s going to take more energy than combusting hydrocarbons, which isn’t sustainable even at present levels, can provide. We need to get solar, wind, geothermal, fast-flux integral pyrolytic reprocessing nuclear fission going, and fusion, fusion is really the ticket. But this won’t happen if we keep investing trillions in fighting over the easy to get at oil instead of developing these technologies.
We could have replaced the energy equivalent of all of Iraq’s oil production by spending the same amount of money we spent in the first year there on wind power, and we’d have that energy forever. All of Iraq’s oil represents only 5-6 years supply and we’ve squandered much of that in the war. What we are doing is so nonsensical in terms of what is good for the United States or the world.
Come on folks, let’s turn this ship around while there is still a smiggin’ of hope. Tell your congress critters we need to get out of Iraq, need to put a $20/barrel import duty on foreign hydrocarbons, and need to put the kind of money we put into the war instead on domestic renewable energy sources. If we’d done this instead of invading Iraq, we and the world would not have an energy crisis today; we’d have a substantially cleaner environment, and we’d have vastly better foreign relationships.