The Immortals

The Immortals March 19, 2009

It seems 2007 was a record year for births here in the U.S. of A.:

Forget the baby boom. More babies were born in the United States in 2007 than any year in the nation's history. …  The 4,317,119 births, reported by federal researchers Wednesday, topped a record first set in 1957 at the height of the baby boom.

I'm something of an expert on the demographic implications of the baby boom. I've developed this expertise from copy editing hundreds, probably thousands, of articles* on the effect of the baby boomers' impending retirement on Social Security. Based on what I've learned from those articles, and from closely watching the ongoing political debate over the Future of Social Security, I can say a few things, with confidence, about what this new generation will be like.

1. The children of 2007 will live forever.

Just like the original baby boomers, the 4,317,119 babies born in the U.S.A. in 2007 will never die. They will work for 65 years, after which they will retire and become a drain on the Treasury and the paychecks of future generations forever and ever and ever.

This may seem unlikely, or even a scientific impossibility, but all of the experts on Social Security are agreed on this point. The baby boomers are never to be regarded as a demographic bubble working its way through Social Security system, but rather as a perpetually calamitous drain on that system — a burden that will never end. I've seen the numbers and read the reports as they detail with remarkable precision the cost to taxpayers due to these baby boomers 50 or 75 or 100 years from now.

This is why politicians of both parties agree that Social Security is in Crisis. The baby boom generation is not made up of mere mortals with normal human lifespans. When these immortals retire, as they have begun to do now, the system will be destroyed.

Scientists don't fully understand why the baby boomers are immortal, but our best guess is that it has something to do with the sheer size of their generation. The demographic class of 2007 is even bigger, so it seems likely they will be immortal too.

2. The children of 2007 will contribute nothing in retirement.

In 2072, the 4,317,119 children born in 2007 will retire from the workforce and become a drain on taxpayers, on federal resources and on health care providers. They will become a burden to the system and to their families. A drain and a burden and nothing but.

We know this to be true about the children of 2007 even though they haven't retired yet in the same way we know this to be true about the original baby boomers, even though most of them haven't retired yet either.

Think about it. The tens of millions of baby boomers now approaching retirement carry with them a wealth of knowledge, education and experience. And now they're about to have vast amounts of free time. So one would think, at first glance, that the retiring baby boomers might be one of this country's greatest assets.

But look again at all that literature on the Social Security Apocalypse. Google "boomers + retirement" and see if you can find a single expert or political leader or expert politician who has anything at all good to say about this army of retirees that's about to invade. The consensus is clear: Once they retire, the immortal baby boomers will be a drain and a burden and nothing else.

The same, we can guess, will prove to be true of the children of 2007.

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* Actually, it may have just been the exact same article, read thousands of times. Like every newspaper, we've run that thing at least twice a week for the past decade or so.

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