America at a Crossroads

America at a Crossroads

The U.S. population reached 320.09 million people on January 1, 2015. Going forward, the United States is expected to experience one birth every 8 seconds and one death every 12 seconds. Meanwhile, net international migration is expected to add one person every 33 seconds. Net of these experiences is the addition of one person to the U.S. population every 16 seconds. Florida has now surpassed New York as the third most populous state in the U.S. with a population of 19.9 million people, 147,000 more residents than New York. California is still the most populous state with a record 37,253,956 residents with Hispanics now making up over 37% of the population at over 14 million.

Aside from population changes, other fundamental shifts may be found in the census numbers.

America is aging. Those residents age 65 and over in the year 2016 comprise almost 50 million people or approximately 17% of the U.S. total. The baby boomer numbers are anticipated to grow by the year 2030 to 72,774 million people. One main reason for this growth is the life expectancy in the United States. A baby born in the year 2015 has a life expectancy of 79.15 years. Life expectancy in the U.S. in the year 1930 was 58 years of age for men and 62 years of age for women.

For comparison sake, during the Roman Empire, Romans had an approximate life expectancy of 22 to 25 years. In the year 1900, the world life expectancy was approximately 30 years of age. Many reasons account for the rapid increase in life expectancy in the U.S. –  better and healthier food, a balanced diet, modern medicine with a focus on the prevention of disease, advanced sanitation, the reduction of infant mortality, and a better educated populace regarding the dangers of smoking, drug and alcohol use, and the risks associated with obesity.

America is becoming more diverse. The white population comprised 72.4% of the U.S. population in the 2010 census. Black Americans comprised 12.6%, Asian Americans at 4.8%, but Hispanics were growing at a rate of 16.3%—up from 12% in the census for the year 2000. Middle Eastern immigration is increasing to the United States. It measured 9,981,330 or 3.2% of the U.S. population in the 2010 census. California has the highest concentration of Middle Eastern population at 400,000 followed by large concentrations in Virginia, Texas, and Michigan.

America has a shrinking manufacturing base. The year 1978 was the peak year for jobs in manufacturing in the U.S. Americans now buy tons of foreign goods creating a huge trade deficit. America has watched its job base deteriorate. American real income is falling. It is succumbing to global competition. We have as a result become a service economy. High paying manufacturing jobs are disappearing. Recent reports have found that retail sales, cashiers, general office clerks, food preparation and service workers were the occupations with the highest level of employment in 2009. But nine out of these 10 jobs were found to pay such low wages that they put a worker with a family of four near poverty.

America has developed a huge mass of workers that are perpetually unemployed. The recent Labor Force Participation Reports indicate that over 94 million American workers are out of the labor market, many for as many as two to three years.

America is slipping in the education of its children. The U.S. is losing ground in education. It ranks 9th among industrialized nations in the share of its population that has at least a high school diploma. America has received scores of 500 on a scale of 1 to 1000 – 487 in math, 500 in reading, and 502 in science.

America is immersed in debt. The total U.S. debt at the end of the first quarter 2014 totaled $59.4 trillion dollars which is a combination of government, business, mortgage, and consumer debt. Our government debt alone is fast approaching $20 trillion dollars. Forty years ago in 1974, the same total was $2.2 trillion dollars. It is estimated that 52% of all homeowners are so over extended that they are struggling to afford the house they are currently living in. Unfortunately, the gap between income and consumption in being filled by borrowing. America is educating its youth to the tune of $1.3 trillion dollars in debt spread over 43 million borrowers with an average student debt load of $37,172.

As a nation, America is at a crossroads. Our continuation down the present road we are traveling upon will lead to ruin.

Regarding directional change, Stephen King once said:

“Sometimes a man and a woman reach a crossroads and linger there, reluctant to take either way, knowing the wrong choice will mean the end… and knowing there’s so much worth saving.”

The same may be said about America.

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Written by
Donald Wittmer