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Peter Rost, M.D., is a former Pfizer Marketing Vice President providing services as a medical device and drug expert witness and pharmaceutical marketing expert. Judge Sanders: "The court agrees with defendants' view that Dr. Rost is a very adept and seasoned expert witness." He is also the author of Emergency Surgery, The Whistleblower and Killer Drug. You can reach him on rostpeter (insert symbol) Please read the terms of use agreement and privacy policy for this blog carefully.

How to Predict the Future

Knowing with certainty what will happen in the future is, of course, impossible. Predicting the future with certainty is, on the other hand, quite possible. We do it every day. We shop food and predict we'll get hungry. We buy gas before the tank is empty. But that's not really what you think of when it comes to predicting the future.

We know that business moves in cycles, but we don't always know how to predict those cycles. If we did, everyone would be a stock market millionaire.

There is, however, one area which can be used to predict the future, even twenty or fifty years ahead; an area which will help us understand already today what the world will be like tomorrow. That area is demographics.

We know that if the number of newborn double in an area they will need twice as many schools six or seven years later. Not that most politicians think that far ahead.

And we know that the shape of the demographic curve will have a major impact on nations around the world.

Let's look at a small segment of the demographic curve, and predict what changes in that segment will do to the United States by the year 2050, more than forty years ahead. The population over the age of 60 is expected to almost double, to 26.4% of the total, from 16.7% today. And we know that 60 year olds are different from 20 year olds. They require more healthcare, they listen to different music, they eat different food and they generally have a lot more money than 20 year olds. They also need to be supported through retirement programs and social security. Sales or RV buses may boom, and so will builders focusing on retirement communities. Drug companies that still have drugs on patent will do very well, because old bodies need more drugs than young ones. It will also make the burden for Medicare and Social Security much higher, which may result in higher taxes, less money for investment, a shaky stock market and higher interest rates.

In essence, the elderly are like a big loan that comes due. They've paid their dues, worked and paid taxes, and now we have to pay for their care, drugs, and pension.

But the U.S. is actually in a pretty good place. You see, we have a 30% higher birth rate than Europe or Canada, we also have much higher immigration, legal and illegal, which will help pay for all those elderly people. In fact, we will remain one of the youngest industrialized nations.

Other countries are facing near catastrophic impact. In Japan, 26.3% of the population is already over 60 and this number will balloon to 41.7%. Can you imagine the impact and the burden on society? In Germany the number of elderly will increase from 25.1% to 31%. And in China the demographic changes are a ticking time bomb. The elderly will increase from 10.9% to 31.0% of the population. The only thing that can save that continent is continued rapid industrialization, or social upheaval will throw China into turmoil when there's no more food for the poor elderly population.

And of course this will have political consequences, because all those elderly folks vote, and they aren't going to want to have less than their parents. So higher taxes is pretty much a certainty and this will really bog down Europe, with already high tax pressures, and continue to give the U.S. a competitive edge, since we start off with lower taxes and the percentage of elderly will be much more favorable in this country.

So in the end, our illegal immigration, will continue to give us the strength to remain a superpower, while Europe ages and withers.

I'm not saying we should simply continue on this path. I believe in legal and regulated immigration. I don't believe that the one who can afford to pay a coyote to run across the border, or the one who can endure the grueling trek through arid deserts to get into the U.S. should be the one we favor, because that's what we essentially do today.

I'm saying we should be fair to all countries, stop the current illegal immigration, but open up our borders to legal, prescreened immigrants, and we should rejoice that they want to come here, because, they are the ones through their youth and their children, who will help pay for aging Americans.


Anonymous Robert Pearson said...

Some of what you say is "Right On!". Some is way off the mark.
Let's take the "Spendingest President Ever!" Not Lyndon Johnson but George Bush.
President George, by all accounts I have read, appears to have spent 2X what the
Lyndon Johnson "Great Society" would have cost. I can't lay all the blame on
President George. President Ronald Reagan and David Stockman started the ball
rolling years ago. President Ronald also left an economic lump undr the carpet
that would still be with us if that damn, intellectual Liberal President Bill
had not gotten rid of it.
Some people think it is funny to slay the "fatted calf" in a Washington Walmart
parking lot and leave the bones, blood and mess for the intellectual liberals to clean up.
Not to worry! President George is building a much bigger and better lump than
President Ron's for posterity. Remind me to tell you the inside story on how
President Ron got Russia to tear down the Berlin wall. It will warm your American heart.

Bottom line?
Instead of a "Great Society", secure retirement and decent prospects for the Future,
we are looking at high costs everywhere like gasoline, electricity and food. Yes, food.
I save all my grocery and dining out receipts. I no longer dine out. All these rising
costs tranlates into a very shaky lifestyle especially on a fixed income. Inflation is
runaway and rampamt but the Government "spin" tells us otherwise. How is this different
from bad press?
We are looking at living less well than our parents and our children will live less well than us.
Everyone says the economy is the "bright spot". The people who say that make more than $100k per year.
We now have an "Epidemic of National Greed". The rich always want to get richer.
So how is the economy so great? Well, because it could be worse!
The worst part is I have to listen to "Leaders" like Tom Delay tell me I'm not an
American because I read the paper and believe in "Freedom of the Press and Free Speech".
I let him talk didn't I?


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