Old School Grump says:
Here’s an “outrageous” proposition to consider:
The best way to solve our nation’s economic problems? Encourage immigration! I mean legal immigration, and lots of it. And all types–from the smart people who come over here to earn advanced degrees but then aren’t allowed to stay (because of our stupid policies), to the poorest Mexicans who, whatever else you want to say, show a damn sight more initiative, risk-taking, and willingness to work than much of our native talent.
That said, we don’t have to be patsies about it. In fact, we should be pretty ruthless about who we accept and what we require of them. And children should have to speak English in school, sink-or-swim. People get all mushy and sentimental about immigration, as if that “huddled masses yearning to be free” bit were an actual policy. It isn’t, and it never was. Immigration policy can and should be self-serving (in an intelligent way, one can hope).
We need to do this 1) to build our math and science and engineering talent pool, and
2) to build our population. The looming Social Security and Medicare shortfalls are due to the dropping ratio of workers to retirees. Tinkering with pay-in and pay-out formulas is needed too, but it won’t be enough, this is an actuarial problem, we need more people in the system.
What are the odds that this country can have a genuine discussion on The Practical Benefits of Dramatic Immigration Reform? Ha ha. The conservatives get too much mileage out of playing the illegal-immigrants-are-destroying-our-country card; the liberals have too much of their self-image wrapped up in “give us your huddled masses yearning to be free so we can coddle them,” and the Tea Partiers, well, that’s just hopeless.