Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fertility is a Good Thing

Republican Politics, American Style
Published on April 2nd in Metro √Čireann By Charles Laffiteau
Today I want to discuss how the developed countries in Europe and other parts of the world can maintain their quality of life and pay for their escalating retiree pension and healthcare costs without raising the taxes of those who are still working.
There are many who will not agree with me or like what I am about to say but the only viable solution that I can see involves the three I’s of Immigration, Integration and Impregnation. That’s right. Immigration, Integration and Impregnation.
“Wait a minute. You mean to tell me that during these tough economic times our government should allow more of those poor people from developing countries into our country, even though they’ll be competing with some of us for jobs?” Yes, that’s right.
“Are you also telling me that we need to be hospitable towards these immigrants and that our government needs to make sure that these immigrants are treated equally with those of us who were born and raised in this country?” Yeah, you’re exactly right.
“Are you also suggesting we might want to consider having more children, which means we’ll have to spend our money raising them instead of on holidays, and that our government should spend more on schools and teachers to educate them?” Yep, sure am.
“Well I think your solution is bollocks! There is no way I’m going to sit by and allow more of ‘them’ into my country, much less allow my government to treat ‘them’ as equals and I’m not about to give up any of me pints or holidays so I can have more kids.”
OK. Then let’s talk about the alternative. How would you like to see your taxes increased so the government can pay for your pension and healthcare after you retire? Does increasing the VAT and or taxes on petrol, alcohol, fags and the like sound ok?
“No way am I going to stand for that. Everything I buy costs too much as it is.”
OK. Then how does increasing the income tax you pay to around 50% sound?
“No. That won’t work for me because my income taxes are already high enough.”
OK. Then what do you suggest the government do to increase its tax revenues?
“Make corporations and businesses pay more taxes and stop wasting money on feeding and housing ‘them’ immigrants. Start taking care of your own instead of everyone else’s and make our government agencies operate more efficiently.”
OK. Do you also have a plan to replace the jobs that will be lost when some of those corporations and businesses pull up their stakes and exit from this higher tax environment? How do you plan to prevent those businesses that remain in the country from raising their prices and passing along some or all of the costs associated with their higher tax bills? What about jobs for the people in the public sector who will be made redundant when the government decides to begin operating more efficiently? Will you tell your children they have to pay higher taxes than you paid to fund your retirement?
“Uh, no I don’t really have a plan to deal with that stuff but I’m sure there is one.”
Hmmm. Seems to me that the truth of the matter is you just want to have your cake and eat it too. Who wouldn’t like that? Unfortunately, the world doesn’t operate that way. There is a cost to be paid for everything and if you don’t want to pay higher taxes then the money to pay for your retirement and healthcare costs has to come from somewhere. But if you raise taxes on businesses, they will pass them along to you with higher prices and or move their jobs (and yours) out of the country. Cut back the public sector and you’ll have to find jobs for them somewhere else or have them go on the dole.
What I am proposing is that you consider an alternative involving increased levels of immigration coupled with enhanced integration and impregnation policies that will boost the population of your country and swell the number of people paying taxes. Those new immigrant taxpayers will supply your government with more tax revenues and they will enhance your country’s overall economic activity, which will then create even more new jobs. Then your government won’t have to raise the VAT or income taxes you pay now or the taxes that your children will be paying years from now after you have retired.
“I don’t know, I still don’t like the idea of letting more of ‘them’ into our country. We have too many of them as it is and the ones that work are taking jobs away from us. Why shouldn’t we just pay our country’s women to have more kids like France does?”
Well you make a good point there. In France, the payments and subsidies for working women and couples to have more children have indeed increased that country’s birth and fertility rates. But there is also a downside to subsidizing childbirth that I think you have overlooked. The government funds that encourage childbirth come from the same basket the government uses to finance pensions and health services for retirees. Since France’s baby boomers will soon be retiring, this means that population growth will have to be large enough to provide for both increasing payments for children as well as retirees. But I doubt it will be enough to cover both because France’s fertility rate still falls short of the replacement level of 2.1 children. This means that a substantial part of the financial burden of paying for both will fall upon future generations in the form of higher taxation.
But there is another alternative to governments paying their nation’s working women to have more children that can also lead to replacement level fertility rates as well as a large enough increase in population to pay for increased retiree costs. I will discuss this American approach in more detail next week.

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