Sunday, October 4, 2009

An Aging America Could Kill America

Recently, there was an Associated Press news article reporting the fact that Social Security is getting hit hard by the current economic situation: "Job losses, early retirements hurt Social Security".

Certainly, we are becoming a more 'maturing' society and that fact does present a problem for both Social Security and our healthcare expenses in the future.

Based on Table 5 of the current United States Census Data (Click to See Data), we had 72 million people who were under the age of 18 in 2000. At the same time, the amount of the population that was above the age of 65 was a shade under 35 million. Through extrapolation, that means that the theoretical working population (age 18 through 64) was 174 million.

In that same report, it is estimated that, by 2030, the under-18 population will be almost 86 million. The average working population will be 206 million. At the same time, the above-65 population will have zoomed to 71 million; and that is almost double that of the year 2000. And, therein lies a big problem.

Social Security works when there are more young people coming into the workforce than there are those who are retiring. It actually works best when seniors have less time remaining in their years after retirement than that of 18 years; the year that many Americans begin there working career. However, the combination of both the post-World War II baby boom and the fact that people are living longer has put pressure on Social Security that was never anticipated when it was adopted in 1935.

The reality is that Social Security is unsustainable in it's current form and that is why it will go bankrupt within the next two decades.

Medicare, too, is facing the same fate and for the very same reason.

Now to complicate things even further for both those programs, it is estimated that half or more of children being born today will live to be 100 (Click to See Full Story: "Half of U.S. Babies Living Today May Reach 100").

In the year 2000, the ratio of the working population (age 18 to 64) to those who were over 65 was approximately 5 to 1; meaning that, theoretically, there were 5 workers to support the post retirement needs of each person who was over the age of 65 and receiving Medicare and Social Security benefits. By 2030, this ratio will drop to an astounding 3 to 1; putting substantial wage pressure on every 3 workers to support a single retiree.

With the current average lifespan of each American male being 75 years of age, this means the the normal average retirement years for a man will span a total of 10 years. For a woman, it will be 13 years; with their current average lifespan being 78.

But, what if lifespans do rise to 100. That means that the aged of our population will need to be supported in their retirement for 35 years; and, not just the 10 or 13 years of today. Furthermore, this means that the retirement years will be double that for those waiting to enter the workforce. It also means that we could literally get to a 1 to 1 ratio of a each worker supporting each retiree. That's because 37 years is the average working lifetime for most Americans; assuming that they start to work at age 18 and retire at age 65.

If you put this all together, it paints a very bleak scenario in that most people in America will wind up working to support the lives of those who have retired; and that, over time, could or will just destroy this country unless some changes are made.

Right now, the only logical solution to this problem is to raise the age of retirement to above 65. Additionally, Social Security and Medicare start-ages will have to be delayed past the age of 65 or, otherwise, these two programs will die a not-so-slow death. If not done, half or more of everyone's pay in the future will have to go to support retired persons.

Most all sociologists and economists see this handwriting on the wall; and, they all know that an aging America could and probably will kill America from a pure economics standpoint.

If living to 100 years of age also means that one's productive years continue to rise with health that is better than that of today, then the extension of the retirement age will work. However, if living to 100 just means that you or I will live longer with the same amount of declining productive years that we have today and with the same possibilities of age-related disease, this country and the world will be in a literal world of hurt. It could mean that a high percentage of our working population is dedicated to tending to the care of the infirmed-aged of our society.

Because of this future for both America and the world, there are those who also see "death squads" and euthanasia as being a reality; in fact, a necessity. There are already those who have written and gone on record to say that our population must be halved in order for world's populations to survive (Click to See My Blog Entry: "Is A Real-Life Soylent Green Society Just Around The Corner?").

Now, with all this in mind, think about why there is such a push to immediately implement health care reform. It isn't to lower cost. Instead, I believe it to be the ultimate means by which our future governments will address the "problem" of an aging population.

I am of the belief that science will solve this problem and not government. I believe there is a future in robotics to care for the elderly. I believe that science will make us stronger, past age 65, and even more productive in our later years. I believe that dying will be of old age and not of disease. Just my opinion.

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