Look at it another way: Banks are a mechanism by which old people with capital lend to young people with energy and ideas. The Western world has now inverted the concept. If 100 geezers run up a bazillion dollars' worth of debt, is it likely that 42 youngsters will ever be able to pay it off?My friend KT would look at the problem as having its roots in our culture, much like Steyn does. I am not so sure, because this demographic trend seems a feature of post-industrial economies. Russia, Japan, China and Germany all have this problem. India does not, but it has not pulled most of its people out of poverty yet. America's demographic problem has been mitigated by immigration from poor countries.
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If the problem with socialism is, as Mrs. Thatcher says, that eventually you run out of other people's money, much of the West has advanced to the next stage: it's run out of other people, period.
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The notion of life as a self-growth experience is more radical than it sounds. For most of human history, functioning societies have honored the long run: It's why millions of people have children, build houses, plant trees, start businesses, make wills, put up beautiful churches in ordinary villages, fight and, if necessary, die for your country.
The subject of how subsidies and immigration policy affect birth rate are subject for another day. Suffice to say that cradle to grave "safety nets" create disincentives to having children to take care of us in our old age.