Overpopulation is killing the American Dream

Overpopulation is killing the American Dream

Overpopulation photo by James Cridland via flickr

OCALA, Fla., April 21, 2014 — The overwhelming majority of Americans believe that our country is headed in the wrong direction.

According to Rasmussen Reports, 61 percent of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track. Sixty-eight percent of whites and 54 percent of non-black minority voters believe we’re on the wrong track, while 60 percent of black voters and 55 percent of Democrats believe the country is headed in the right direction.

When Gallup asked the question earlier this month, “In general, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States at this time?” the results were worse: 73 percent were dissatisfied.

One of the first things that critics bring up is the economy, closely followed by politics. Institutions that used to give Americans confidence are declining in public esteem; the Supreme Court and religion are both seen less positively than they were ten or 20 years ago.

This is one way of looking at things, to be sure, but it does not allow for a snapshot encompassing the entire social landscape. One key aspect of human development is often ignored entirely; nations with larger populations tend to be more impoverished, with negatively correlating rates of healthcare access and educational opportunities.

Despite being a solidly first-world superpower, the United States is no exception to this rule. It stands as the third most populous country on Earth, coming in only behind China and India. During the twentieth century, its population quadrupled. Were this trend to continue throughout the twenty-first century, America would be home to more than one billion people by 2100, though we should note that the rate of growth has declined to its lowest in a century.

Even so, the U.S. has one of the highest growth rates in the developed world.

The results of this demographic explosion are readily apparent: low wages and high unemployment rates, public school systems with very high student-to-teacher ratios, and government assistance programs so heavily utilized that severe cuts will be needed to sustain them. 

The damage caused by overpopulation is severe. First, high population tallies and subpar salaries are intrinsically linked. When the rate of population growth exceeds the rate of economic growth, standards of living fall. Low income countries are home to the highest birthrates, despite economic prospects in those countries being poor. That means soaring unemployment statistics. 

In America’s poorer regions, conditions that might be described as “third world” can be found all too easily. Overpopulation has resulted in a crucial job deficit and applicant surplus. In the past, this has mainly affected blue collar workers, though the ongoing recession has brought traditionally secure white collar jobs under the gun.

In public education, 8 percent of schools exceed their capacities by more than 25 percent because of population increases. One-third conduct classes in portable classrooms, and one-fifth are actually forced to turn congregation halls such as gymnasiums into makeshift learning environments. Even worse, various school districts are now considering building structures on ecologically hazardous grounds.

Public assistance is an eminently sore subject. It is exploited almost as an art form by partisans on the political left and right alike. However, looking at the subject in an objective manner, it becomes obvious that there are certain distinguishable trends, and they pertain to generational poverty.

According to an interactive map published by The New York Times detailing the recipients of government benefits from 1969 to 2009, certain counties steadily increased in their rates of using benefits. Many of these were never in great financial shape to begin with, but they became increasingly destitute. One can blame this on the gross outsourcing of employment opportunities, but by and large population rates rose in spite of this.

New generations have been born which make living off public sector subsidies a career in itself. As this subset continues to grow, spurred by a culture that does not value personal achievement, the problems it causes to society will grow.

With all of these crises and others continuing to grow, what can be done to curb overpopulation? Over the last several decades, government has invested in reproductive health services, including educational programs. A strong education is exactly what drives down birthrates; specifically among those who would otherwise be in poverty.

Not everyone wants so much as a high school diploma; therefore, this cannot be mandated or expected of all. In any case, promoting messages of personal responsibility and informing youths about the staggering cost of parenthood, currently averaging out at $226,920 from cradle to graduation, should serve as highly effective reality checks.

In order to survive, every country needs to have a certain amount of its populace reproduce. However, the indescribably important act of bringing another person into this world should be done on a reasonable basis, not as the result of purely emotional drives. In my opinion, motherhood or fatherhood deserves to be thought of as a career in its own right, not merely a complement to an existing lifestyle.

Should more people view the idea of having children this way, and place the greatest focus on personal productivity, then America’s overpopulation crisis will go a long way toward being solved. There are other things that should be done, such as drastically revising immigration rules and reconsidering foreign trade policies, but placing mind over matter is an excellent start.

If these pivotal steps were to be taken, then America might stand the chance for a spectacular socioeconomic rebound. The essential question is whether or not we will admit that overpopulation is a problem in the first place.

Much of this article was first published as The American Anti-Renaissance: Overpopulation and a Declining National Dream in Blogcritics Magazine.

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