In a recent column I took note of the new population projections of the U.S. Census Bureau: 400 million Americans in the next twenty years, up from 307 million today. I focused on the positive implications: lots of new working age Americans to generate taxable income, build up the economy and help provide for the aging population, some twenty percent of whom will by that time twenty years from now be over 75 years old.
Compare that to Europe, where the population is both shrinking and aging or China, headed for a “mass geriatric society.” Good news. But, not for CNN commentator Lou Dobbs.
In a recent broadcast Dobbs took an even longer term projection of 450 million Americans in forty years (which is uncertain, as is even the twenty year projection) and found it ominous: “a threat to everything that made America great.”
He and his panelists worried about threats to the environment: the “water we drink” (fair enough, in places like the southwest), the “air we breathe” (I didn’t know it was in short supply), as well as crowded cities and demands on energy supplies. Mr. Dobbs’ concern for the struggling urban masses is newfound, but welcome. And his concern for energy supplies is a worry, assuming the American genius that he otherwise celebrates can’t find a way into a new energy future.
In the midst of the discussion with his guests, one of whom seemed unwilling to get to the heart of the matter, Mr. Dobbs urged his panelists to throw political correctness to the wind and speak honestly. The panelist could not go where Mr. Dobbs wanted, and instead spoke guardedly about the apparently unmentionable topic of birth control – i.e. contraception, to contain population growth.
But Mr. Dobbs could be no more honest and the conversation stalled, except for one guest who did note the positive effect of new workers to pay for retirees, which Mr. Dobbs dismissed with an admittedly clever but faux-liberal worry about “social security slaves.”
Let me be more direct. Mr. Dobbs’ worry is that those who will swell the population will be largely immigrants and the children of immigrants – Latin immigrants, Spanish speaking immigrants, brown skin immigrants.
The majority status of whites in the U.S. is passing. The same projections that put the population at over 400 million in twenty years also describe a population of many minorities, of whom whites will be the largest but no longer a majority.
The death of “everything that made America great.” What a jerk.
Hard work is part of the American ethos, what made America great. Latin immigrants arrive to America desperate for work, and like every previous immigrant group, start at the bottom of the American ladder with the jobs their predecessors have abandoned as they moved up that ladder.
What is Dobbs’ worry? Are immigrants invading the market for talking heads?
Family is a part of the American ethos. Americans warehouse their aging parents and grandparents in institutions, and support a vast network of “social services” to care for parentless children. Mexicans and other Latins move their aging family in with them – or vice versa, but the effect is the same, the family stays together – and parentless children are taken in by an older sibling, grandparent, uncle, aunt or cousin.
Again, what is Dobbs’ worry - that Americans might be overcome by a concern for actual family, as opposed to “family values?”
A passion for freedom and equal rights – “the due process and equal protection of the law” – made America great. These new Americans, like all the others before them, know that. It is one reason why they come. And they are quick to assert those rights.
Does Mr. Dobbs fear a trend among the rest of the population?
There are any number of legitimate concerns about the sheer volume of immigration into the U.S - downward pressure on wages, impacts on the schools and the service budgets of certain communities and the danger to security of not knowing exactly who is in the country, where they are and what they are doing, among others.
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