Governments are creating a great fear of an "ageing population" and population decline. While asylum seekers are shunted off to PNG, there are over 1000 people legally imported into Australia each day - as skilled migrants or under the family reunion scheme – to alleviate our “ageing population”.
Our cities and infrastructure are buckling under the heavy weight of population growth, to alleviate our "ageing population"! We have constant "shortages", cut backs and austerity measures due to population pressures. Young people are at risk from being lost to unemployment, and debt, as our economy lags behind population growth.
Mug shot of Charles Ponzi (March 3, 1882 – January 18, 1949). Charles Ponzi was born in Italy and became known as a swindler for his money scheme.
Increasing spending on welfare
With total government spending at $485 billion, spending on the welfare state accounted for a majority share—or 65% of the total. It is astounding that of the $316 billion that the government spent on welfare, approximately half, or $158 billion, was due to tax-welfare churn (The process of levying taxes on people and then returning those taxes to the same people in the form of income support payments and welfare services simultaneously or over the course of an individual’s lifetime).
When combined with the fiscal pressures of an ageing population and expected lower tax revenue growth, it is clear the Australian welfare state is unsustainable on current trends.
Australia is facing a welfare state-driven financial crisis like that which exists in Europe today. (CIS report: Target 30)
Target30 propose that superannuation be used to buy annuities, pension assets tests should include the family home, and aged pension and preservation ages be raised and aligned.
Social security and welfare spending accounted for A$138 billion in the latest budget, a rise of nearly 14% per year over the past decade. Assistance to the aged has risen to almost A$55 billion, a rise of 22% per year since 2003-04. In 2003-04 A$26 billion were payments to the aged, while families with children received A$21 billion.
Health expenditure expected to nearly double as a proportion of GDP over the next 40 years and aged-care spending projected to increase as a proportion of GDP from 0.8 per cent in 2010 to about 1.8 per cent in 2050.
The aged pension is predicted to cost $37 billion this year rising rapidly to $45 billion by 2015-16. It is estimated another 220,000 older Australians will start drawing down an aged pension in the coming four years.The greatest risk to prosperity come from sustained increases in spending, especially in health. Over the past decade health expenditure rose by over $40 billion in real terms. According to a Grattan Report the ageing population was not the prime cause. Rather, people of any age saw doctors more often, had more tests and operations and took more prescription drugs.
After welfare, the second biggest chunk of the federal budget is healthcare. This is "burdened" by the ageing population. The health budget is set to escalate to $71 billion by 2015-16.
In third place in the budget comes education spending at almost $30 billion a year, including funding for universities, non-government schools and some funding for public schools (although states still pick up most of the tab for public schools).
No doubt the best solution would be to ensure that older people were eliminated, by voluntary euthanasia, after they finished contributing economically to our society.
Despite many older people living long and healthy lives, and being financially self-sufficient, they are are being exaggerated as a threat. Migrants are ageing too. Professor Graeme Hugo AO, Director of the Australian Population and Migration Research Centre at the University of Adelaide, says the issue of ageing migrants is important to a range of policy areas in Australia. The last Census showed that 32,000 aged pensions are being paid every year direct to Greece and Italy to migrants who formerly came to Australia over the decades in the 20th century, and have now retired.
It's assumed that young migrants are the "silver bullet" to our ageing workforce, but migrants age too!
We need to end the stigma and discrimination of the aged in the work force and tap into their wisdom and experience. Japan has an ageing population, and still their economy is strong and growing - due to production and skills.
Importing young migrants only temporarily keeps our population "young" anyway, as everyone ages at the same rate. Rather than a constant flow of foreigners, many of whom are now facing higher rates of unemployment than Australian born, employers need to be flexible to allow part-time work, and tap into the experience and abilities of older workers.
Immigration only temporarily relieves ageing population
NSW Treasury Long-Term Fiscal Pressures Report answer to the fiscal ‘challenge’ of Australia’s ageing population is to increase immigration, restrain public sector pay, and – the quote here is direct – through “lowering community expectations” of services. There’s no Get Up! outrage over humdrum issues like 10 year-long queues for public housing, or ballooning hospital waiting times, or the fact that only 2% of rents in Sydney-Illawara are affordable for very low income workers. Deniers avert our attention to asylum seekers and gay marriage,"McMansions", big cars and over-consumption.
Population growth is also the lazy way to grow GDP (as opposed to GDP per capita) and make Treasurers look good. If this wasn’t enough, big business also has enormous influence on our major political parties through donations.
Young people remain longer in education before they take on full-time jobs in an economy increasingly based on knowledge and skills, and older people may often experience difficulty in finding employment. In 2011, 36% of Australia's older people were not born in Australia, a substantially higher proportion than the 24% of people under 65 years who were overseas-born.
In the Productivity Commission 2010 report titled Population and Migration: Understanding the Numbers, the Commission concluded that "Realistic changes in migration levels also make little difference to the age structure of the population in the future, with any effect being temporary, since immigrants themselves age."
Where does population growth end? We might be able to temporarily dilute, by a fraction, the proportion of people aged over 65, but in the long term the next generation will inherit a bigger "ageing population" to compensate for - but how?
“Realistic changes in fertility can have little impact on the age structure of the population in the short to medium term. While they have a greater effect in the longer term, they cannot stem the ageing of Australia’s population. Realistic changes to fertility could have some effect in the long term, but the proportion of older Australians will still grow from current levels. ”
End to the Age of Entitlements
The nation's peak welfare body has backed Joe Hockey's call for an end to the age of entitlement, arguing that people have "learned to expect new things from government" and tax reform is needed to transform the system. Australian Council of Social Service senior policy officer on tax and economics Peter Davidson said slowing growth and an ageing population meant the tax and welfare system was unsustainable.
Baby Bonus, Schoolkids Bonus and a Seniors Bonus are all "wasteful". Acoss says that taxes should be as simple, transparent and predictable as possible.
The Age of Entitlement is over. We should not take this as cause for despair. It is our market based economies which have forced this change on unwilling participants. Government spending on a range of social programs including education, health, housing, subsidised transport, social safety nets and retirement benefits has reached extraordinary levels as a percentage of GDP, and in an age of slowing growth and ageing population, are simply unsustainable.
It's an admission that our "growth" will inevitably lower our standards of living, and we will be less for our taxes. It's pure Ponzi economics!
Two decades of economic growth and we are being strangled economically.
“The reality is that despite more than two decades of strong economic growth, fault lines are emerging in our economic and social foundations that we simply cannot continue to ignore.
“There are major holes in our social safety net that the next government will have to address – in affordable housing, education, disability, mental and dental health, and community controlled services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples..." In reality, 22 years of "economic growth" has left us worse off, and poverty is increasing with 2.2 million people living below the poverty line.
ACOSS outlines proposals for first 100 days of new government (They never suggest limiting growth!)
Australia has long been one of the countries which has most enthusiastically pursued growth through immigration. But as the fertility rate fell – it has been below replacement rate for more than 30 years – that Big Australia goal became ever more reliant on imported people.
With no policies on slowing immigration levels, the flow of migrants to the western suburbs will hardly slow at all.
Lower fertility rates mean older, less innovative and productive workforces. More importantly to the Ponzi economic order, older, stable or declining populations consume less. So growth requires either importing people, or exporting stuff, or a combination of the two. Orthodox economics simply can’t cope otherwise.
“Economic growth” Ponzi economics
The Economy is meant to serve us, not “grow” to detrimental levels and deny its very purpose – to care for our health, education, children and seniors, and be a safety-net when emergencies strike.
“We’re certainly operating a Ponzi scheme in Australia,” says Dr Bob Birrell, an economist and migration expert from Monash University.
“Our growth is predicated on extra numbers… [and] more of our activity is going into city building and people servicing, which do not directly produce many goods that can be traded in overseas markets".
There are limits to growth, and Ponzi pyramid growth schemes always collapse and leave the participants worse off - except for the capital owners at the summit. What we need is a circuit-breaker to the growth/ageing population/"economic growth" mentality that is destroying our environment, vilifying older people, and causing hardship and increasing budgetary austerity.