When speaking about the increasingly dire conditions of American society, the first thing that virtually anyone will likely bring up is the economy. More often than not, politics follows in a summary fashion. For a great deal of people, religion is never far behind. As this last topic is intertwined with morality, and therefore translates into political and economic matters, it is frequently regarded as the crux of any given micro- or macro-level social concern. This is one way of looking at things, to be sure, but does it allow for a snapshot encompassing the social landscape’s entirety? I would say not. What does, then?
The study of sociology has always been of immense interest and importance to me. It can provide for the opportunity to view a nation, culture, or common group from a balanced and rational perspective. Through the sociological lens, I enjoy examining the various aspects of any given country. Whether these be financial, militaristic, ethnic, or historical in nature, a great deal can be learned from them. This is why it is surprising that one glaring recurrence regarding human development is largely overlooked or denied outright by many in contemporary America. It is the simple fact that nations with larger populations tend to be more impoverished, with negatively correlating rates of healthcare access and educational opportunities.
Unfortunately, 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, it did not double, or even triple, but quadrupled in size. Should this trend continue over the course of the twenty-first century, America will be home to more than one billion people by its end. The results of this demographic explosion are readily apparent: low wage and high unemployment rates, public school systems with almost comic student to teacher ratios, and government assistance programs so heavily utilized that severe cuts are often needed to sustain them.
Considering all three of these points is essential should the damage waged by overpopulation be fully considered. First, high population tallies and subpar salaries are intrinsically linked. This is evidenced by low income countries being home to the highest birthrates, despite economic prospects in said areas being next to nil. Needless to say, such a harsh reality gives way to soaring unemployment statistics. These standards apply to the United States without pause; in its poorer regions, conditions that might be described as “third world” can be found all too easily. Specifically on the American front, overpopulation has resulted in there being a crucial job deficit and applicant surplus. In the past, this has mainly impacted blue collar workers, though the ongoing recession has brought traditionally secure white collar individuals into the fray.
In public schools, children are supposed to be met with an environment in which they can home in on their unique interests, become aware of domestic and global concerns alike, and hopefully build a path toward a career of some kind. While this is American education in theory, what plays out in practice bears almost no resemblance. Because of unparalleled population increases, eight percent of schools exceed their respective capacities by more than twenty-five percent. One third conduct classes in portable classrooms, and one fifth are actually forced to turn congregation halls such as gymnasiums into makeshift environments for learning of a decidedly non-physical educational nature. Making these problems exponentially worse is that various school districts are now considering building structures on hazardous grounds, such as near highly polluting industrial centers.
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 fiscal years 1969 to 2009, certain counties steadily increased in their rates of said benefits. Unsurprisingly, many of these were never in great financial shape to begin with, but as time wore on, 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. Essentially, new generations have been born which find living off various public sector subsidies to be a career in itself. As this subset continues to grow, no doubt spurred by a local culture that does not value personal achievement, the problems it lends to society can do nothing but perpetuate.
With all of these crises, and far too many more to mention here, pushing ahead at full speed, some might ask what can be done to curb overpopulation. Since the latter half of the twentieth century, various municipal, state, and federal government agencies have devoted resources to reproductive health services such as birth control, prophylactics, sterilizations, and sexual education programs. Interestingly enough, a strong education is exactly what drives down birthrates; especially among those who would otherwise be in poverty. Of course, 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 go about viewing the idea of having children in 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 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 renaissance.Powered by Sidelines