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Craig Huneke - National University
Ashley Reynolds - Oklahoma State University
Renee Wasser - Goucher College
Vincent Harris - Baylor University
Sareena Dalla - Harvard University
Population Policies in America
by Craig Huneke
There are several key factors to consider when looking at the question whether or not the United States should pursue population policies to protect our quality of life for future generations. Any decisions based on this inquiry will likely lead to critical and emotional responses from the American people. There is however abundant amounts of information and data that illustrate the fact that the United States population growth is growing at an almost unmanageable rate. Population behaviors, if left unchecked will lead our country down an avenue that will be detrimental to our children and generations beyond.
Population Policies in America
The United States has nearly quadrupled the number of people within its boundaries in the past century; if our population multiplies by that same amount within the coming century we will hold over one billion people. The effects from our dramatic rise are many, some include: lands that once could be enjoyed for their natural beauty are now concrete jungles, our country's children attend schools that are overloaded and lack the teacher to student interaction we once had, social infrastructures and systems are overloaded, natural resources are being depleted, and our environment is being tasked beyond its limits. These examples are just a few of the many factors that should be seen as signs requiring us to enact policy to regulate our expansion. The cause leading us to this current situation can be broken into two broad categories, internal policy affecting domestic population and policy concerning external forces.
Internal Policy Affecting Domestic Population
The United States currently does not have any formal population policy; there are even rewards built into our social system for those producing more, tax exemptions and child credits are just two of them. Our nation must become educated in the affects and problems that will occur if this detrimental situation is not altered. We must come together and compel our nation's leaders to institute corrective action to change our course. Although it many seem unreasonable to institute over-bearing protocol that would go against the self-sovereignty of our country's members, there are many strategic ideas for policy that can be incorporated.
Our federal and local governments can institute aggressive family planning education. Society can be educated concerning the negative outcomes of expanding beyond our capacities. Social policy can be modified to provide incentives only up to a pre-designated amount of dependents. Low or no-cost birth control can be distributed throughout our society. Expert-analysis groups and studies should be funded to analyze this situation in order to compile an expanded list of these remedies. Our country as a whole must rise out of its paradigm to come to this realization; our government, whose indisputable function is economic growth, directly linked to population growth must realign its approach and way of thinking.
Policy Concerning External Forces
The external force that affects our nation's population is illegal immigration. Although there are many varieties of estimates, even on the conservative side data shows over four hundred thousand illegal immigrants enter our country ever year. Analysts have even indicated that due to immigration being such a large problem over the last two decades that even if illegal immigration were to cease that our country would still grow due to its lasting momentum. This massive influx has created an extensive burden for our schools; forced hospitals to close due to illegal immigrants receiving healthcare, yet providing no financial return to those institutions; and the effect of overpopulation on our biodiversity.
All levels of government are greatly lacking enforcement in this area, resulting in an explosive increase that is tasking our entire social, environmental, and political system. One example of many that indicates how inadequate our illegal immigration controls are is in the fact that many illegal immigrants captured in the United States are simply given a notice to appear and then released on their own recognizance; approximately eighty percent never arrive for their court date. Current attempts to regain control in this area are being introduced, for example making illegal immigration a felony; however, more extensive, strict, and aggressive political policies need to be incorporated immediately to lessen the harmful affects this is producing for our country.
Many determining factors build the success or demise of a country. Our forefathers have created that successful nation with blood and sweat, through trials and tribulations. It is up to this generation to ensure the advantageous outlook of this country for our future offspring. This population difficulty casts an impending downfall for our country and must be stopped. Research and analysis need to be performed, consequently summarizing the most favorable actions to be taken. These actions then need to be embraced by state and federal governments, who in turn need to be aggressive in enacting firm and dynamic policies to thwart this crisis.
Effects of Overpopulation
by Ashley Reynolds
According to the United States Census Bureau, the nation's population will reach at least 419 million by the year 2050, and could be as high as 1.2 billion by 2100. This is an alarming estimate considering America is already facing such problems as strained resources and a deteriorating environment with a population of just fewer than 300 million. What will happen to our quality of life if that number quadruples? This is the concern of organizations like Negative Population Growth, who advocate various actions by the US Government and individual citizens to eventually reverse the country's population growth. When discussing the controversial idea of population control, one must consider the effects of overpopulation on our economy, resources, and environment.
Basic economics would tell us that an increase in population ensures an increase in generation and consumption, providing stability. As simple as that sounds, what happens when we are consuming more than the earth can yield? According to the Carrying Capacity Network, the US will lose its ability to export food by about 2030 if current growth trends continue. This would cost us about $40 billion in annual income. If the US population continues to explode, the global economy will eventually have a serious problem with supply and demand as a result of our enormous per capita consumption of materials. Other economical impacts of overpopulation, and specifically, overpopulation due in large part to immigration, are felt by the working class. With a steady supply of legal immigrants looking for work, fewer jobs are available to other citizens, and wages remain low. Taking into consideration other factors too numerous to cite, it is evident that the economy would greatly benefit from a steady decline in population growth.
The United States is home to only 5% of the world's population, but our consumption and waste of the earth?s resources sit at incredibly disproportionate percentages. Citing the Carrying Capacity Network, if we continue with our current rate of use, non-renewable energy sources in the US will be commercially exhausted by the year 2050. Different sources offer slightly varying figures, but all agree that humans are consuming dangerously more than the earth has to provide. If we continue at this rate, we will soon strip the earth of all of its resources and face serious consequences, possibly returning us to the quality of life experienced centuries ago.
Perhaps the most devastating effects of overpopulation are seen in our environment. The United States is responsible for 22% of the world?s industrial carbon dioxide emissions, which are a leading cause of global warming (1). With an already damaged ozone layer, Americans continue to produce so much air pollutants that it may one day be dangerous to even go outside. Aside from pollution, there is cause for concern about our farmland, forestry, and wildlife. Since 1800, the country has lost 50% of its wetlands, 90% of old-growth forests in the northwest, and 99% of its tall grass prairie (2). On a daily basis, we continue to lose approximately 9 square miles of rural land to development (3). Rising global temperatures, loss of biodiversity, and an addiction to fossil fuels are among the serious threats overpopulation poses to our environment.
When taking into consideration the devastating effects of the overpopulation of our nation, it is evident that the government needs to pursue population policies in order to ensure we can maintain our quality of life. Among the most obvious and widely accepted ideas is controlling immigration. The US Census Bureau figures show that by 2050, 80% of our national population growth will come from immigrants and their descendents who have entered the country since the 1990s. While it is unrealistic to cease admitting immigrants into the country altogether, it is certainly feasible and practical to drastically reduce the number of legal immigrants we accept and to step up to the challenge of effectively dealing with the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants that enter every year. Including improving contraceptive availability, focusing on family planning, and creating tax benefits for small families, there are a number of other actions the government could take to eventually achieve a negative population growth, at which we desperately need to arrive. As it is the purpose of our government to serve and protect its people, it is past time for this issue to be addressed in a serious and proactive manner.
(1)Stabilizing the Atmosphere, Population Action International, p. 33
(2)The 1993 Information Please Environmental Almanac, World Resources Institute, p.159
(3)How Much is Enough, Alan Durning, p. 148
Information and statistics from the United State Census Bureau and the Carrying Capacity Network obtained through NPG.org.
Should the United States' Government Pursue Population Policies to
Protect Our Quality of Life for Future Generations?
by Renee Wasser
Economics is defined as the competition for scarce resources as the population of the United States increases, the competition for food, arable land, clean drinking water and all other resources also increases, which will negatively impact our quality of life. According to July 2005 data presented on the Wikipedia website (www.wikipedia.com), the United States with its population of 295,734,134 spread out over 9,631,418 km2 has a population density of 30 people per km2, which is ranked 143rd in the world. On the surface, this puts the U.S. well behind the E.U., which has a population density of 114 people per km2; however there are several important factors to consider.
The United States has large tracts of lands, which are uninhabitable or very nearly so. For example, of the area of the United States listed above, 469,495 km2 is actually inland water sources (lakes and rivers). Large portions of the Southwest are desert, most of Alaska is frozen tundra, parts of the Rockies are too tall to be inhabitable and much of the nation's midsection, America's Breadbasket, is farmland. This actually raises the country's population density along the East and West coasts, where much of the population lives. Currently, the population density in the Northeast is over 1900 per km2, making it higher than Japan, India or China. In addition, the United States has the highest population growth rate of any industrialized nation in the world and while many of the countries in Western Europe are experiencing negative growth rates, the U.S. is growing at about 3.2 million people per year.
The Census Bureau projects U.S. population will grow to at least 419 million people by 2050, adding over 120 million additional residents to our nation. In order to maintain our high standard of living and to preserve the fragile ecological balance that man's increasing large presence threatens to destroy, it is imperative that the United States Government take actions to ensure that our population will remain at manageable levels. This is necessary to ensure that we can provide enough food, clean drinking water, health care, educational services and employment opportunities for all of our people and to prevent further damage to the Earth's environment.
There are two components to the problem and there are two sets of solutions, both of which needs to be addressed. The first issue is immigration, much of it illegal, which accounted for 61% of the population growth over the last decade. There is much debate about this currently in Congress as these issues have become very important to many Americans on several different levels. The United States must be able to control the number of immigrants entering this country and to be able to monitor those who come to America on visas and remain here past its expiry. Other possible solutions involve the creation of a guest worker program which would allow foreign nationals to come to the U.S. to work but not to settle here permanently, the removal of the policy of jus soli, or right of birthplace, which grants U.S. citizenship to almost all children born in this county, even if their parents are not citizens and may be here illegally and the better securing of our borders. The other part of the problem involves controlling our own fertility rate. While this country would never adopt a policy like China's birth planning, or "single child" policy, there are certain economic incentives that could be added to the nation's tax code to help keep the population in check. The standard deduction for each child could be reduced until it was phased out completely after the third or local municipalities could charge per-student usage surcharges on top of property taxes to pay for the increased cost of educating large families. This is a problem with very difficult solutions that unfortunately, has even more serious implications to our way of life.
by Vincent Harris
Since the signing our great Constitution on September 17, 1787 our republic has quickly morphed into the sole superpower in the world. Sadly, everything our nation has built is in danger of being lost as the majesty of the United States slowly crumbles from within due to a drastic increase in population and consumption of resources.
As populations in Europe and Japan decline, the United States continues to grow, and with growth comes the consumption of natural resources. In 2004 on a daily average the United States consumed 20.4 million barrels of oil a day, while in populous China only 6.5 million barrels were consumed a day. In 1950 the Unites States population stood at 150 million, in 2000 at 281 million and estimates indicate that by 2050 the population will be more than 400 million people.
As India, China, and the world continue an upward trend in population, the demand for natural resources will continue to increase, while the supply will eventually decrease and then cease to exist. The world's largest consumer, the United States needs to create a plan now in order to prepare for the future.
The Unites States government can easily get involved in the issue of immigration. The porous southern border is causing much of the population increase, with over 10,000 illegal immigrants entering the U.S. every day. Due to the possibility of angering potential voters, many politicians have remained silent on the immigration issue, but the time has come to act. If we can not secure our southern border quickly we are going to end up with an entire segment of the population which has not assimilated. Controlling population growth should begin with control over the border. In 2004 Time magazine estimated that more than three million illegal immigrants cross our southern border every year. If the United States could successfully keep out three million people every year, the strain on our natural resources would be undoubtedly much less.
Whether it's a fence, doubling the number of border agents, or helping the economy of Mexico, the United States government should act now to ensure that American's standard of living does not decline.
In order to protect our way of life, the United States government should also look into fiscally conservative approaches to stabilizing the population. Forced practices of low birth rates, as in Communist China, are unconstitutional in the U.S. Through the use of tax credits, the United States government could reward citizens who kept the birth rate to below two per family. State governments would also benefit from having the population crisis discussed in school classrooms. Whether coupled in Sex Education with contraceptives and abstinence, in Science with the consumption of natural resources, or History with population trends, educating America's youth about the problem would positively increase the attention of future generations.
When enacting legislation, the United States government should look past the present and think about the future generations of Americans who will inherit an overpopulated country void of natural resources. The United States of America has a worldwide reputation as a place of opportunity. This will no longer be the case if our country continues on its path of overpopulation. The United States government should and must pursue population policies to protect our quality of life for future generations.
Census Bureau Statistics
September 12, 2004. World Net Daily.
August 23,2005. "Mile by Mile Into The Oil Trap".
Fareed Zakaria, Washington Post
by Sareena Dalla
Given the increasing rates of population growth in the Unites States, there is a clear need for the government to devise a sound population policy. This policy should contain elements that will protect the quality of life for future generations and enable the U.S. to remain competitive in the global economy. The key elements of such policies will include a controlled immigration policy that curtails illegal immigration, and provides for high skilled labor and limited guest workers. Additionally, fiscal measures to discourage families from having more than two-children should be considered. Together, these policies should enable the U.S. to control population growth, protect natural resources and maintain a high quality of life for future Americans.
Coming off the momentum of President Bush's trip to Mexico, population policies are fresh on the national agenda. The United States currently supports the highest population growth rates among the industrialized countries. The two contributing factors: legal immigration of around three million per year, and an estimated eleven million undocumented workers living in the states. These illegal immigrants have added pressure on resources and social infrastructure, without making direct economic contributions. Consequently, in order for the U.S. to protect America's quality of life - as defined by a strong economy, clean environment and prosperity for future generations, a clear and balanced population policy must be devised.
Changes in immigration law have been fiercely debated in Congress, since the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would provide legal status to an estimated eleven million illegal immigrants and allow four hundred thousand foreigners a year to enter the United States. The proposals have bitterly divided the Republican Party between those who see immigrant labor as a pillar of the American economy, and those who view it as a burden on U.S. resources and social infrastructure (education, healthcare, social security benefits). In a debate that involves securing the nations borders, and defending America in a post-9/11 world, Americans, more than before, must consider the ramifications of uncontrolled population growth.
In my microcosm of the country, Atlanta, Georgia, I have measured the effect of population growth by added inconveniences: congestion, traffic, pollution, security concerns, more crime, and inflated prices. On the flip side, my growing city has brought a myriad of cultural opportunities, burgeoning infrastructure, business markets and ethnic diversity. Subseqently, my response towards amnesty for illegal workers has been mixed. Many argue illegal immigrants constitute the backbone of America's economy, filling jobs that many Americans would not prefer. Others astute immigrants deprive Americans by bilking the U.S. government by not paying taxes.
Immigration plays a curcial role in U.S. growth and development. However, by providing blanket amnesty, absent of structure and control of future immigrants, the cost for immigration becomes too high. Thus, a more enforced proposal, containing harsher penalties for illegal workers and those that sponsor them, would curtail further population growth. Border control is also essential to achieve this goal.
Owing to China's overwhelming population size, China's government created and enforced a strict one-child per family policy. Housing, education, medical and other social benefits were limited to one child. China was able to implement such a policy, owing to its Communist government and absence of alternative options for Chinese citizens. Such a plan would not be suitable for the U.S.; however, some elements could be selectively introduced with appropriate fiscal measures. For example, limit tax deductions and unearned income credit eligibility to only two children. These measures in turn will encourage families to gradually adopt a two-child policy. Additionally, government sponsored housing programs could give preferences to two-children families. Once Americans understand the benefits of raising smaller families, more resources will be available in the long run for more to share.
In sum, the United States is in dire need of a sound and effective population policy that would control population and remain competitive in the global market place. Such policies must entail control of illegal immigrants at the same time not depriving the economy of the skills which are required to compete internationally. Given that the U.S. is a free society, population policies will need to be implemented through fiscal incentives such as tax deductions or credits for families with two children. The policy should also include clear enforcement that deter employers from hiring illegal workers. By having a balanced policy with strict enforcement, the U.S. should be able to control its population, protect its resources, reduce pollution, and sustain a high quality of life for our future generations.