Friday, September 17, 2010

Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson's Hobby is Thinking

Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson spoke at the Dillon Lecture Series this morning. He said during the presentation that his hobby is thinking. I found that fascinating. I guess that's one of my hobbies, too.

His speech today had an overall theme of, "Strength is our diversity."

He shared a number of population graphs that illustrated the "bulge" of the baby boomers. His last one was showing that in 2050, the largest population segment - that bulge - will be women over 85.

He noted that people over 65 spend less on everything, except healthcare. They buy fewer houses, cars, clothes, and everything else. So, having this be the largest population segment is difficult for the economy.

To maintain a stable population, women must average 2.1 children. Governor Parkinson says what will save the US economy is legal immigration. That will keep the population growing in the segments that are consumers.

He said instead of the oft-mentioned China and India, "the best emerging market is right here in the U.S." The trick is that we must make sure these immigrants have access to education so they will have jobs that lead them to be consumers.

He reminded the audience that, "We are all a product of people who, against great odds, came to this country."

Parkinson mentioned Papiamento, a language spoken in Curacao, that is a mix of English, Dutch and Spanish, as a metaphor for the population blending.

At the luncheon afterwards he was asked about many things, one of which was the federal deficit. He said four things are necessary, but no politician could get elected saying them. But, he said, "The public will have to elect people who will do those things."
1. raise social security age to 70 for people under 45
2. a means test for social security - so if you're wealthy you're not getting it
3. have to control health care costs
4. federal government do things it's good at and leave other things to the states

Parkinson is not running for office, so he can say whatever he wants.. He is going to a job in Washington DC as the executive director of an association for nursing homes.

I wish he were running. Having someone in office who's hobby is thinking seems like a good thing to me.