Friday, April 1, 2011

Bankruptcy by Demographics

UPDATE II: The U.S. government spends $40 billion to $50 billion each year on end-stage kidney disease. Read The New York Times, Asking Kidney Patients to Forgo a Free Lifeline, which highlights one case:

"One patient, a 78-year-old woman whose name is being withheld, was not a good candidate for dialysis, her doctors said. She has complications from diabetes, high blood pressure, a heart valve problem and severe coronary artery disease. Her medical problems were so grave that dialysis was likely to lead to a series of medical interventions — hospital stays, drugs and doctor visits — but would not necessarily prolong her life. And her doctors told her that.

But she insisted on dialysis, saying, 'Some life is better than no life.' In the seven months she has been on dialysis, she has been hospitalized four times, including twice for heart surgery.

'I go to dialysis because I want to live,' she said in a telephone interview. 'I want dialysis.'"

UPDATE: Medicare doesn't cover everything. So how much do you need to save? A lot. Read The New York Times, Getting Old Is Expensive.

Should old people just die younger and quicker? Read the Washington Post, A growth lesson from China, which predicts a pretty bleak future for the U.S.:

"This demographic destiny might entail starving every other sector of society -- including national defense, at great cost to America's international standing. It had better not, given what Fogel argues in another essay, this one in the current issue of Foreign Policy. It carries the headline "$123,000,000,000,000." Fogel's subheadline is: "China's estimated economy by the year 2040. Be warned."

He expects that by 2040 China's GDP will be $123 trillion, or three times the entire world's economic output in 2000. He says China's per capita income will be more than double what is forecast for the European Union. China's 40 percent share of global GDP will be almost triple that of the United States' 14 percent.

Fogel finds many reasons for this, including the increased productivity of the 700 million (55 percent) rural Chinese. But he especially stresses "the enormous investment China is making in education."

While China increasingly invests in its future, America increasingly invests in its past: the elderly. China's ascent to global economic hegemony could be slowed or derailed by unforeseen scarcities or social fissures. America's destiny is demographic, and therefore is inexorable and predictable, which makes the nation's fiscal mismanagement, by both parties, especially shocking."

Tell your kids to learn Chinese.

Thank God We Saved the Banksters, But Why?, Cont.

UPDATE: Where is the anger? Read Mother Jones, Wall Street and the Public, which notes:

"Years ago I remember a lot of moderate liberals talking about how the Bush era radicalized them. For me, it was the economic collapse of 2008 that did it. The financial industry almost literally came within a hair's breadth of destroying the world, but even so it took only a few short months for them to close ranks with Republicans and the rich to prevent anything serious being done to rein them in. Profits are back up, new regulations are barely more than window dressing, nothing was done to help underwater homeowners, bonuses are as obscene as ever, unemployment remains sky high, and the public has somehow been convinced that this was all their own fault — or perhaps the fault of big government, or big deficits, or something. But the finance industry has escaped almost entirely unscathed. It's mind boggling. If this doesn't change your view of who really runs the world, I don't know what would."

Once a foob, always a foob.

The legislation that created TARP, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, "prevented a meltdown of the financial system, but failed to meet the legislative goal of protecting home values." Read The New York Times, Where the Bailout Went Wrong.

Florida Republi-CONs Unmasked

From the Pensacola News Journal, Editorial: It's not a crime?:

The editorial is a worthy read.