By Alan Caruba
When I listen to politicians arguing the merits of some piece of legislation, I am usually 99% sure they have no idea how demography—population—will effect the outcome of their grand schemes.
This is particularly true of advocates of fixed and often flawed ideas about the environment. Most “save the Earth” true believers want to see huge reductions in the population of the planet. They don’t much care for human beings.
Demography is the study of population; focusing on things like fertility rates, aging, ethnic identity, and immigration. Knowing the accurate demographics of a nation is central to its governance and this is particularly true for a democracy. It is no accident that both words have the same root, demos as in people.
Knowing the size and distribution of the U.S. population was a serious concern for the Founders and it is part of Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution which states that "[An] Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct." Congress first met in 1789, and the first national census was held in 1790.
For the world in general, fertility rates have been falling as more women receive education and become part of the workplace. Higher standards of living and education reduce birth rates. It makes it easier for women to be part of the workforce and households have more money for savings as well as the consumption of goods. As nations like India and China improve their economic status, their populations will stabilize and population growth will slow. The odious one-child policy in China will, in time, pass into history.
Thus, industrialization, the increased spread of electrical power, a global economy with fewer trade restrictions, all will favorably impact population growth by slowing it. In contrast, the objectives of the environmental movement such as the reduction of energy use based on the false assertion that it produces carbon dioxide that, in turn, will heat the Earth, are in direct conflict with population stabilization and reduction.
In the United States, government policies have been in direct contradiction of what native-born and naturalized citizens want. If the latter had there way, there would not have been a sharp increase in the population. Instead, the government has pursued policies that increase, largely through legal and illegal immigration, the number of people in the nation.
In 1970, the U.S. population was about 203 million. This followed the unprecedented “Baby Boom” years,1946-1964. Today the population has surpassed 293 million. These numbers come from the Census Bureau. At no other time in U.S. history have recent immigrants and their children dominated population growth.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s official estimate is that there are eight million illegal immigrants currently in the nation. Most observers of illegal immigrant believe that the actual number range from twelve to seventeen million.
So, since 1970, each Congress and each President has adopted policies not only allowing, but encouraging, legal, and in particular, illegal immigration far above traditional levels and setting the stage for increasing economic and social problems.
As reported by USA Today, the U.S. population is expected to “soar to 438 million by 2050 and the Hispanic population will triple according to projections…by the Pew Reseafch Center.
Moreover, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that “the future age structure of the population will be older than it is now. Very nearly 40% will be senior citizens, over 65, by 2050. In 2011, the last members of the Baby Boom will reach 65 by 2029. All will be eligible for Social Security and Medicare if, in fact, these two entitlement programs have not become insolvent by then.
Here, again, we see government policy ignoring or just ignorant of population changes as the Congress moves toward passing a healthcare reform package that 80% of the voters disapprove; one that will slash a trillion dollars from Medicare funds and institute rationing of care as the number of older Americans increase. The harm to the current healthcare system is incalculable.
In addition, yet another amnesty bill has been introduced in Congress at a time when it is obvious that a growth in the genera population will only exacerbate and increase the costs of educating the children of the newly enfranchised, formerly illegal immigrants, along with the cost providing medical care to those who cannot afford it, and incarcerating those who break the law. These costs will add billions at all levels of society.
So, demographics do matter, even if politicians and other special interests ignore them. They have local, national, and international ramifications as populations either stabilize or increase worldwide.
A lesson for the United States can be drawn from the decline of the Roman Empire. It was a combination of the cost of far-flung military commitments and the invasions of populations from outside of the empire that ultimately caused its collapse through an inability to impose Pax Romana or stop the depredations of northern European tribes and threats from the Huns.
Policies that deliberately deny the benefits of the provision of widespread energy availability and of education to increase literary; policies that deny protection against the scurge of malaria and other diseases; discourage the use of genetically modified crops to avoid deforestation and to provide ample food supplies; policies that impose foolish mandates such as ethanol or even attempt to regulate carbon dioxide with the false claim that it is a harmful gas, all contribute to the waste of the Earth’s greatest resource, its human population.
There are, of course, events beyond our imagination, though not necessarily our control. As the great physicist Albert Einstein warned, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
Alan Caruba writes a daily post at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com. An author, business and science writer, he is the founder of The National Anxiety Center.