Put a door in the wall

Tina Haapala |

Written by Gary Silverman, CFP®

Back when the Social Security system was first set up, the average age a person lived to was about equal to when benefits started to be handed out. Put another way, the system was designed so that about half the people in it died before they would collect any money. We were also birthing new workers faster than the old ones were retiring. So a larger and larger base of workers was funding the retired ones.

These facts and others helped make the system fiscally sound.

But as we are all aware, the system now has a lot more people living into retirement than dying before it. They are living longer on top of that (my Mom, who recently turned 93, thought she’d live a long time…but not that long). And there are fewer people of working age relative to those retired than there used to be.

We’re not alone in this problem. In fact, almost all of the industrialized nations have the same issues—most of them have it even worse than we do. Trust me, Angela Merkel didn’t let all those refugees into Germany only because of her kind heart. She saw this as a way to make up for the fact Germans just don’t seem to like having babies (otherwise known as future workers) anymore.

That’s why I think we should have a door. Something nice. Solid wood construction with some decorative molding. Maybe paint it red to make it stand out.

What’s with the door, you might ask. Well, there are a lot of people (including a few noisy ones running for president) who want to build a wall to keep folks out of the country. My door would go into the wall so we could let some folks in.

You see, I like the idea that we attract the hardest working, most energetic, smartest people from around the world and have them work here.

Hold on, you might say. They will take American jobs away. Well, yes and no. Indeed they will work here, but they will also consume here. Thus they both take jobs and create jobs. Most studies I’ve seen seem to indicate it’s about a wash. Plus, if they are not here being hard-working and brilliant, they’ll be in their home country being hard-working and brilliant. I’d rather them be competition living here paying our taxes than somewhere else competing against us.

And don’t worry, it is a door. You can open it for whom you want and close it when you need to. I don’t want terrorists or drug lords here anymore than you do. Fortunately, the vast majority just want a chance to provide their families a better future, much like my great-grandparents did when they came across the oceans not that long ago. We are fortunate. After all these years people all over the world continue to see us as the land of opportunity.

This article was published in the Wichita Falls Times Record News on May 1, 2016.