TEXT OF COMMENTARY
Bob Moon: There are 300 million people in the U.S. A number that is expected grow significantly in the next 40 years due to immigration, longer life spans, and yes, people just having 2.3 kids. There’s real concern this will put further strain on our social system, especially health care and Social Security.
But commentator Joel Koktin says don’t worry, be fruitful. More people might just be the key to digging out of our economic doldrums.
Joel Koktin: Right now, America is slumping in one of its deepest fits of gloom. That’s thanks to a weak economy, high unemployment and a mountain of personal and federal debt. According to the latest NBC/Wall Street poll, barely a quarter of adults feel their children will be better off in the future and most think America is in decline.
It’s easy to get depressed, but I believe America’s prospects are far brighter than commonly assumed. The country still possesses many unique and fundamental assets — its deep-seated spirit of ingenuity, a large expanse of arable land and most important, robust demographics. These traits provide the United States with a reserve power, yet these advantage must be used wisely.
Take our population. It will grow by roughly 100 million by 2050. A scary number to some, but I feel that nothing better illustrates the country’s underlying vitality than its population growth. Our work force will grow by some 40 percent, while other nations — including China, Europe and Japan — will experience major declines. This growth can drive American’s economic resurgence in the coming decades. A larger, younger population is more likely to innovate, start new businesses and create new domestic markets than an aging one.
Yet population growth also assigns great responsibilities. The United States will need more investment in both infrastructure and basic skills training. We will also need to adjust our economic policies to shift capital away from speculation in assets — which dominated the last decade — to new ventures in manufacturing, agriculture and energy.
If we could do that, the U.S. by 2050 could remain not only the preeminent country on the planet, but the most diverse, dynamic and creative society in human history.
Moon: Joel Koktin’s new book is “The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050.”