A couple of years ago, when Dick and I were in Italy, we frequently heard random references to the birth rate declining there, as it is in most of Europe. Young couples just were not having babies. When we asked why this was so, the answers ranged from careers first to religious indifference to “babies cost too much.” With people everywhere living longer than ever and with science’s ability to extend lifespan beyond what was once considered “natural,” the baby-shortage has the making of a demographic tsunami. Jonathan Grant and Stijn Hoorens of the Rand Europe research group write, “Demographers and economists foresee that 30 million Europeans of working age will ‘disappear’ by 2050. At the same time, retirement will be lasting decades as the number of people in their 80s and 90s increases dramatically.” Messrs. Grant and Stijn maintain that a decline in tax contributions from an ever-shrinking work force coupled with an ever-increasing welfare and health-care system is the tipping point for disaster. Simply put: who will pay for the pensions of all those long-living retirees? Mark Steyn outlines in National Review, the inherent dangers of government health care, government-paid vacation, government-funded early retirement, etc. And while America is not yet Europe, the obscene entitlements so loved by President Obama and Pelosi and Reid and so longed for by Andy Stern will elbow us closer to a Greek-type tragedy.
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