We Need More People
Here's a different approach to stimulating the economy: speed up immigration and increase the birth rate. Not exactly a popular topic when jobs are scarce, but it's an idea with merit. I can't take credit for the thought. I picked it up from an article a month or so ago, didn't save the clipping, and can't recall who espoused it. I've taken the liberty of adding and subtracting from his points.
However, the writer pointed out that it is necessary for a country to produce more children to replace those dying off. And, doing so will stimulate the economy. The U.S. is doing that - just barely. Some European countries are not and the consequences are mostly bad. Unwanted demographic changes take place, unwanted immigrants flood in to do the jobs that must be done, and unwanted changes in the political landscape take place. This was happening in the Soviet Union's satellite countries where Russians dominated native populations, housing was not only scarce but woefully inadequate, and employment stagnant.
The result was lower birth rates. Estonia, for one, worried in the early 1990s that it couldn't recover as a country. Ousting the Russians, ex-patriot activity, a capitalistic society, political freedom that freed up innovation, reversed the trend and Estonia is now one of the stars of the former satellites.
In the U.S., while we're keeping up and children are still revered, the message, however, has been to have fewer children. This started in the 1960s or maybe earlier when it was theorized (incorrectly) that we were breeding ourselves into hunger. So, it became politically unpopular to have lots of children. The cost of living has had something to do with it also and the popularity of abortion as birth control, or "wrong people" control, probably added to the mix.
What we need to do is make having more children popular. It will protect from having a non-assimilated immigrant population having too great an influence in the basic culture and it will stimulate the economy. Just birthing a baby is an economic event and, for those so inclined, it re-distributes the wealth. Babies require clothes and food and goods, and, ultimately housing and mates and so forth. I'm not advocating creating more welfare funds to support this, or making anymore changes to the already bloated, unwieldy, twisted, unfair, tax code (perhaps redoing the whole thing would help). I'm just saying that a change in public attitude, away from a "babies are a burden and a bother", would help.
As for immigration, we have plenty of that. Unfortunately, too much is illegal immigration. We went from a country wanting all immigrants to a country restricting immigration. If I recall my history correctly, after importing Chinese labor to build the railroads, we banned Chinese immigration for awhile. In the 1920s, we banned any more Italians from coming in. Ultimately, we went to a quota system. The question arises, "do we really have to control our borders?"
When we were trying to find labor for the mills, we admitted just about anyone. The difference was that there was no safety net. It was "make it or leave or die". Some did just that, but all came in knowing they had to fend for themselves. They had to be committed to hard work, have ideas, be creative. It was chaos. There was poverty and cruelty and exploitation and crime and starvation and deprivation. Usually, it was better than what was left behind. Ultimately, it worked out. There were more pluses than minuses and gradually we worked to a more orderly, protective society.
As I noted, our borders have been more open than we wanted. We did an amnesty program in the Reagan years and we're initiating one now with the 30-years-old-and-under amnesty order from the Obama administration. And, there will still be millions of illegal immigrants. Would it be better to open the borders and know who is coming in? Would we get the ideas and innovations that would stimulate the economy as the author contended? We certainly would in the more creative and technical fields and competition always spurs development. Would other countries (like Mexico) lower their very strict immigration standards to permit U.S. citizens to move in?
Coupling a free immigration policy with a pro-birth policy just might be the right stimulus. What do you think?