There is a collapse coming.
We can either try to mitigate it or not.
Either way its going to be bad, but if we do nothing -- or worse, do more destructive things or continue those we're doing now, it will be catastrophic.
Its simply the mathematics of the problem; at a 1.6 fertility rate (when 2.0x is required) in 20 years you're in trouble, and in 40 you're in really, really serious trouble.
No, you can't fix it with immigration. That's a trope and it doesn't work because if the situation that led to it is still present bringing in more, new people simply result in them making the same decisions in a generation or two and you've accomplished nothing.
You have to change the paradigm in a way that reverses the disincentives and threats.
It takes a full generation before what you do will bear fruit. Why? Because that's how long it takes for the generation growing up now to reach adulthood and have a good childhood themselves, and thus want to have children.
Musk is crowing about screwing like a rabbit; he has the analysis correct but he's one successful sperm in a vagina and thus the odds of him personally making a difference, even if his mantra was to catch fire with every other billionaire, is zero. He'd do a lot more for humanity if he managed to get every such billionaire to tell the government of the United States to stop importing people via both illegal immigration and H1b/H2 visas and shut down all deficit spending, collapsing both asset prices and the cost of living or else he and the rest of the billionaires will take their money and production to a nation that does.
Of course he won't do that because his little fiefdom and billions requires said outside people and schemes, all of which are a disincentive for ordinary folks to have kids as those "imported" bodies compete for jobs, drive up housing costs by presenting additional demand for same and slam downward wages -- and every one of those actions makes the calculation for all thinking people of ordinary intelligence and gifts, when it comes to the decision to have kids, worse.
But for those things he wouldn't have any money at all -- and he knows it.
Let's face facts folks: Nobody who you want to have children will bring said children into a world where they believe said kids will get screwed.
That doesn't mean kids won't come anyway; they will, for some. Some adults don't care what happens to their offspring, some actually use them as meal tickets and more. Some people are also always going to be eternally optimistic and therefore none of this will factor into their decisions. And some will have "accidents" and for personal or religious reasons decide to bear and attempt to raise said kids. But none of that changes the basic facts: People who are of decently-competent intellect and of good character, in a world of technology where one can choose when and whether to reproduce, will only do so voluntarily if they believe it makes sense AND their offspring will get a fair shake.
Destroying the fiscal health of the nation by emitting 8% of GDP in unbacked credit via deficit spending is the exact opposite of such. Simple mathematics tells us that this results in you losing half your standard of living in less than ten years and it takes about 20 years to decide to have a kid, have said kid and raise him or her to adulthood. Run those fiscal deficits and you've told all the thinking adults that child's standard of living, when they reach adulthood, will be one quarter of yours today assuming your children are as competent and intelligent as you are.
Would anyone who has two IQ points to rub together have children in that situation, when the options facing said kid 20 years hence are privation to this degree or civil war (and the attendant risk of being dead!) to overthrow said government?
Importing millions of unskilled workers who then drop kids who have parents with no skills, and thus no realistic means of learning much from said parents yet are citizens in the gambit to cheapen labor screws the next two generations sequentially. Oh sure, in two generations or so those kids having their own kids will "outgrow" that but then they are able to compute the same odds and they won't have children either! Think I'm wrong? The data says I'm not; within two generations those who were the children of illegals stop having lots of babies too and its for the same reason, I'll wager: They're convinced their children will get screwed and have one quarter of THEIR standard of living -- and they remember living eight to a one bedroom apartment!
You think all those glorious "vacation venues" bringing in H2 workers, and all those "tech" places with H1bs, mean parents have a great experience for their kids at lower cost? Maybe, but in addition they have seen the destruction it wreaks on said kids. Please explain how many of Americans you saw of college age working scooping ice cream or similar this summer to make enough money to go to college in the fall. Zero -- or nearly so -- right? That's what I saw all over the country. Now if I'm 20, and thinking about making some kids, where are my kids going to be in 20 years? Unable to get a summer job and unable to afford college too. Many see this, keep their pants on and both Trojan and the birth control pill companies keep having decent quarterly reports.
Good jobs with nice pay tend to be concentrated around cities. How's Chicago doing these days? Yeah, getting mugged while walking around North Michigan Avenue (assuming you don't get shot, which is of course even worse) is great. Do you want to expose children you might have to that risk? Hmmmm..... probably not. Oh, and speaking of which how are you going to afford a place to live with said kids when the cost of housing and property taxes have skyrocketed by more than double over the last decade or so -- and there's a new round of screwing headed for you in this upcoming year's bill, all so you can be a "sanctuary" for a bunch of Venezuelan fighting-age men who illegally came to the US! All of this is very conducive to choosing to bear children, right? I mean its not like you're going to have to pay those property taxes at an ever-escalating rate for the next 20 years if you choose to have kids, right? Oh, wait.... you are!
Think about the process of bearing said kid as a microcosm of the hosing you may well get on an entirely-arbitrary and 100% out of your control basis. You (or your wife if you're a guy) is facing an unknowable bill from the hospital for having said kid and you will get GRILLED about whether you own a car seat before the child is even toweled clean! Answer "wrong" and CPS gets called and crawls up your backside. Oh, and they will jab said newborn before you can object yet if what they give that kid seriously screws him or her they're immune from being sued over if it and you are forced to pay that bill too. That's the first of seventy such immunizations you must give to said child or they cannot go to school at all, the manufacturer and the doctor are absolutely immune from liability if said drug seriously injures or kills your child and of course you get the bill and possibly a lifetime of needing to care for and support said child if that injury occurs. If something goes wrong during birth you are looking at an instant six-figure bill and the possibility of being financially ruined; if you already have a kid that event will wreck their life too. Yes, the risk of injuries or worse is always part of having children and we all know that, but this is a thumb on the scale and a demand that you accept the risk of someone else screwing up and then abusing you financially because they can -- not because you did something stupid or accepted a reasonable cost for what was bad luck came your way. Does that put a thumb on the scale when it comes to your decision to have the child in the first place?
Said child gets to be about six and its time for school. You've been paying property taxes funding said schools all along except..... the kids in said schools are not managing to learn anything. This isn't new, by the way -- in the 1990s more than eight out of ten who came to try to get a job at MCSNet, all holding High School diplomas or better, couldn't perform basic arithmetic with a paper and pencil nor write a simple basic English language business letter explaining that a customer had to pay their bill to restore their service. I gave all applicants those two basic tests and kept all of them in a large file cabinet as it was the only reasonable way to guard against being unjustly accused of "discrimination." What is the forward earnings capacity of an 18 year old who can't do both of those things -- other than gang-banging related criminal activity, of course. Blame this on whatever you'd like but the facts are what they are, so your options are to suck it up and take the risk that your child fails to learn or you pay twice -- once in the property taxes and then again for private education. Meanwhile your neighbor is a school teacher who gets paid and has a nice house to live in irrespective of the fact that you can't trust your kid to actually learn anything in that classroom and whether its because she can't kick out the three little monsters who like to throw chairs in class or that she herself can't make change for a $20 doesn't matter -- she gets paid anyway and so does everyone else who works there even though they repeatedly fail to teach anyone anything at all.
Then you think about the child getting older. He or she is rather bright and would perhaps like a college education. You see the bills pile up on those who are there now, and the growth of that price over the last 20 years. You see $100,000 or more in debt larded up on someone who studies gender or black history and a "professor" who claims that capitalism is horrible -- while pulling down a six-figure salary and forcing your child to pay the next kid over's tuition in Calculus class because you, not your child, have more money than his parents do. You think "oh, my kid is a math whiz and will study programming" which sounded great 20+ years ago but then you remember the many H1bs that multiple large firms brought in to replace all of their American citizen programmers, forcing said Americans to train their replacements before being fired in order to get any severance at all! Thus that $100,000 taken on in debt to go to college, you realize, can be rendered worthless by said corporations even if your kid makes good choices as soon as someone from India will do the work for less money. This wild escalation in the cost of an education is not by random luck either, which would be a risk everyone has to take -- three decades ago there was no Internet and colleges were the only real place you could learn a lot of things. Today anyone can learn anything from literally anywhere with nothing more than a $50 cellphone, a $200 laptop and $50/month for Internet service so why has the cost of learning and proving it at a college level of competence gone up by five or more times in the last 30 or so years instead of costing almost nothing to simply take a set of proctored tests and prove competence? Reality is that all of this is due to the deliberate policies and actions of universities, governments and corporations which will screw your child without any possibility of redress when he or she grows up -- and there is no evidence that it is slowing down or will be stopped.
You buy another box of Trojans.
You walk into the grocery store and see a single woman with four kids, no Dad, and she whips out her EBT card at the checkout. She's got a nicer car than you do and she pays nothing for her residence, nor for her phone and Internet service -- all because she dropped four kids with no father she'll name. Of course there is a father, probably a different one for each kid. She gamed the system by using children as an ATM machine. Even worse the kids are all obese and the cart is full of sugared soda and Doritos, all of which you are being taxed to pay for and she's probably on six prescription drugs which you're paying for too. You contemplate that your skin is the wrong color to get away with that and you recognize that children are best-served by having two parents in the home but actually striving to provide the best possible environment for children to be born into and thrive means you won't get the EBT, free housing, free medical care or free phone and Internet service and in addition you have been forced to pay for her four births, all the economic tyranny imposed by your local hospital on society for each on top of everything else and thus you don't have the money to put extra groceries in your cart to reasonably feed even one child.
You buy two more boxes of Trojans and your girlfriend renews her birth control prescription just to be sure.
Never mind the sociological factors -- like the quality of the dating pool due to self-inflicted personal health damage that those on both sexes have inflicted on themselves. In the extreme we have young people being encouraged to take drugs or undergo surgeries that are likely or even guaranteed to permanently destroy their fertility and adult sexual function, but it hardly beings or ends there; that's just an extreme example but one that we're all expected to support and acknowledge as "normal" and "good." If you don't "affirm" someone ruining their capacity to ever have an ordinary adult sexual relationship even before they reach adulthood and thus can possibly contemplate what they're giving up (and produce children, I remind you), in many cases while forcing the costs on either their parents or society as a whole you're called a bigot.
Look back at the last three years and I'll give you just one tiny example I can personally cite. On Halloween night in 2020 a neighborhood girl I'd seen around here, I would guess 10 years of age, came up trick-or-treating. She had a mask in her hand and asked me (unmasked, handing out candy on the porch -- better than half the houses were dark with the people cowering in fear inside!) "Sir, you're not scared of me?" I told her "Not in the least; my health is my business and, if it fails me that's my issue." Her reply back to me? "Its all bullshit." Realize that she was being force-masked in school here in this county, in a "red state" and county that is so red you're wasting your time running as a Democrat, for nearly two years and the people who did it to her, six years from now when she reaches adulthood, will still not have lost a thing. Some of those in higher office and thus in position to make policy for HER KIDS will likely have been the very teachers and school administrators who forced this ignobility on her; some of them even got commendations for bravery. Will her knowledge of this and the screwing she personally took with such mandates by those very same people make her more or less-likely to have kids as an adult and will she assume that if she has children her kids are likely to get screwed in the same sort of way or even worse?
What could reverse that belief? We might decide to hold those people who did all of that accountable by ejecting them from public office and any seat of power on a permanent basis -- or even jailing them and confiscating their assets along with passing iron-clad laws prohibiting anything of the sort with a private right of enforcement. In other words we could give that formerly-screwed kid and now adult woman confidence her kids will not be screwed as she was without warning or cause. We haven't and won't do any of that so there will be another generation of lower birth rates. This outcome in another five or six years is our responsibility as the adults of today because we're not about to hold anyone accountable for those last three years!
Now add to this that there are two groups of politicians in "high office": Those who are geriatric and thus will be dead before the really bad outcomes from their policies occur and those who are narcissists and thus don't care if you and your kids get hosed as they believe they'll be immune from the bad effects even though they know you and yours won't. If you think that's just a lawmaker thing you're dead wrong; my own father, who was a CPA and thus knew darn well what he was advocating and voting for and what it would mean, ran that crap on me during Thanksgiving one year while his grand-daughter was still at the age of crawling around on his living room carpet. I was disgusted enough to get up from the table, gather our things, along with my kid, and immediately drove a few hours to get back home.
I could go on for hours with this but I think you get the point. People don't choose to have fewer or no children because "that's how it is" as technology improves. Technological improvement adds choice but society molds opinions and incentives -- for good or bad, like it or not.
People make the decision to not have children not because they're "selfish" but rather on an entirely-rational basis because they look back at their childhood for the baseline and then forward in time and what they see is not improvement but impoverishment, not prosperity but privation, forced compliance and costs shoved upon them while the mandating parties are immune from consequence even when they're later proved wrong or worse, someone is injured or killed, rampant illegal immigration and destruction of the common person's standard of living without boundary along with a documented history of forcing the voluntary costs taken by others down their throats along with myriad scams across the board. When projected forward 20 years they recognize that any child they produce today is highly likely to be screwed blind and has a very low probability of having a good life, say much less a better one than they had.
Indeed if they judge that their childhood sucked they may well expect their kids' childhoods to suck worse and nobody who actually cares about a child they're contemplating bringing into the world voluntarily signs them up for that.
The people you want to bring children into the world are those who value children and have reason to believe their children will have at least as a good a life as they grew up with and enjoy now, with hope for even better, never mind a belief that their kids will have a fair shake and rational odds of success if they choose to apply themselves.
All of the policies of the last few decades of both government and industry have demonstrated beyond doubt that none of this is likely to be true and thus only those who don't give a wet crap about their children's future, or are so rich they believe they can guarantee it even if everyone else has their standard of living go straight to Hell, choose to reproduce.
Then there's the inescapable fact that a woman has a window for fertility that peaks in her late teens and early 20s. By age 30 fertility is on the decline and by the time she's 35 that decline becomes precipitous; a woman who wants more than one child and is 35 is odds-off to be able to have both, and by 40 you may as well forget it entirely. Leave aside the fact that most 55 year old people of either sex today can't possibly keep up with a teen, especially when they have an extra 100+lbs on their body and the risk of death due to said lifestyle choices before you can raise said child to adulthood begins to rise at an unacceptable rate as you pass your 50th birthday. That, in turn, means that no, you can't wait another 5 or 10 years to fix this stuff because the women currently of child-bearing age won't be able to have children by then and if we don't cut the "healthy at any size" and "destroy your fertility on purpose by surgery or drugs" crazy nonsense today too many of those women who are of reproductive age at that point will be incapable of bearing children anyway.
That's why we're where we are, and if we don't stop it now in another 20 years it won't matter because for those who today are in their 40s and 50s, say much less older (many of the folks in my bracket will already be dead) there won't be anyone to pay the taxes that keep the government operating, there won't be any federal money for health care subsidization (e.g. Medicare) and there won't be anyone willing to wipe your butt when you can't do it anymore on your own.