This is a quick post linking to an article over at New Scientist with some cautionary words for America and the future. There's a lot of desperation over in Republican circles over a vanishing resource on which they've based their whole political strategy: angry white men. They're not making them like they used to.
Before we celebrate this as leading to the inevitable decline of the Republican Party, we should look at the larger picture. America 2050: population change threatens the dream.
More below the Orange Omnilepticon
The make up of America is changing:
With most groups in the US population reproducing at less than the rate needed to replace their numbers, higher fertility rates among Hispanics in the US should be sufficient to drive the transition towards a population increasingly characterised by young Hispanics and older, non-Hispanic whites.Shorter version: America is going to be made up increasingly of a population whose members are having difficulty attaining higher educational levels and economic security - and control of the national resources needed to address that is in the hands of a shrinking white minority who may or may not be amenable to doing something about it.
A question of degrees
If US Hispanics enjoyed similar success to their counterparts of European extraction, there would be little to fear from this shift. But they don't. The US Census Bureau data analyses, run for New Scientist by Richard Fry of the Pew Research Center in Washington DC, reveal stark inequalities (see "Inequality in the US").
Hispanics earn less, on average, than whites, and the gap is even wider for accumulated household wealth, a key measure because it can protect against unemployment and other temporary reversals of fortune. This gap is likely to be exacerbated in the future by a concentration of wealth in the hands of older Americans – who will be predominately white.
The future of America is going to be shaped by the degree to which we as a nation are willing to invest in those future citizens. The war on 'entitlements', teachers and public education, 'food stamp voters', coupled with the massive inequality in society today are all things that point to a future in which a small elite sits atop an impoverished majority - which will increasingly be divided along racial-ethnic lines unless we are serious about inclusion and increasing social mobility. Closing the borders is not going to stop it; it's all about birth rates.
Ironically, the Republican war on the middle class is driving this as much as anything. The most effective way to lower birth rates is to give people access to a higher standard of living, including income, health care, and education. The campaign against women and Planned Parenthood by the Right is also counterproductive; it's not just making it ever more difficult for women to plan their families, it's reducing their access to basic health care.
Raising the minimum wage, adopting policies that would boost employment, strengthening worker rights, lowering the cost of higher education (or making it free!), investing in the public sector and infrastructure - these are all things that would rebuild the American Dream. The Romney - Ryan ticket and all it represents is a roadmap to disaster - unless you're willing to postulate that an increasingly numerous under class to keep labor costs low and provide cannon fodder for wars of choice is a good thing.
It's certainly a society based on traditional values - if you want to go back to the middle ages with a privileged aristocracy lording it over the mass of serfs and a modest small business class of merchants by the grace of their God.... This looks rather like the wrong way to run a country in the 21st century where an educated populace is vital to remain competitive with the rest of the world (and run those high tech weapons systems).
Read the whole thing. And you can read it en español: "El sueño americano hoy depende de la educación de los jóvenes latinos"