It's A New Ball Game
October 22, 1975.Like it or not, it's a whole new ball game so far as the quality of American life is concerned.The U.S. Census bureau last week announced that our population will reach a peak of about 286 million persons by the year 2000.
This is considerably different from the 350 million predicted only a few years ago.The most significant conclusion of the latest census prediction is that we have nearly reached "zero population growth." Some experts say we have already reached the plateau and the continued small increase is the final reflex of the World War II baby boom.Whatever. The sobering fact is that the American economy which has grown steadily for the past 200 years is flattening out.
It is ironic that as we approach the United States Bicentennial we should mark the achievement with forecasts of stagnation.From the very first colonial days the population of this continent has increased in geometric proportion. There was always sparsely settled land for the taking and a larger number of people to build and buy each year. If things lagged from time to time, waves of immigrants flocked to America to keep the boom going.
It was a 200-year phenomena that no one thought would ever end.But we ran out of oil, and metals, and land, and the fierce desire to acquire more than our parents. Now we're running out of people.Those ever-expanding markets have become stable, level. The economic pie has stopped growing.
There is no room for newcomers to start enterprises to serve new markets.The struggle has begun for those now serving the market to get a bigger piece of the existing pie. Opportunity for the individual entrepreneur has shriveled.Historically this situation has destroyed the middle class.
The big get bigger, the poor get poorer and those in between disappear.The modern solution is socialism - a legal redistribution of wealth. In theory this is supposed to create one huge mediocre - but comfortable - class of citizens. In practice it seems to be robbing only the middle class and benefiting the two extremes of the economic scale without creating that uniformity promised.
This double squeeze on the hard-working tax-paying segment of society has made those affected restless and uneasy. The harder they work and save the more there is to take from them. In dismay they see their effort resulting in a lower standard of living rather than a higher one.The middle class of America have become the modern peasants to government nobles.The system has created a large, permanent non-working poor class, a wealthy and privileged upper class of managers, and a frustrated middle class chained to their tools.
The quality of life for, the working middle class has declined in recent years.How often these days do you eat steak? How many suits and dresses do you have today compared to 10 years ago? When was the last time you took an evening stroll around the block?.Our cars and our homes have diminished in size, comfort and style - even though the costs have not. Millions of people are on welfare but we can't afford to hire them to perform personal services.The standard of living is going down and with it the spirit of those middle-aged Americans who once had, or aspired to, better.
To the young, however, life is a relative experience, and they will adapt. They will accept and appreciate a grubbing existence if that is the best available.It is this adaptability that has enabled man to inherit the earth.The old order must change and the new order is the best of its time.
Yet, there are golden ages of history - brief spurts of genius that lift mankind up another notch on the evolutionary scale.We must ask ourselves whether our candle is burning out, or flickering before a brighter light.No one can be sure, at this stage.Only one thing seems probable: a stable population puts a lid on growth. Thus things will never be the same again - neither good nor bad for the new generation, just different.2006 Footnote: U.
.2005: 296,410,404. Source: U.S.
2000: 281,421,906.1990: 248,709,873
Census Bureau.* 2005 Population Estimates.* Census 2000.* 1990 Census..Lindsey Williams is a Sun columnist who can be contacted at:.LinWms@earthlink.net.
org with several hundred of Lin's articles written over 40 years, and his book "Boldly Onward," about the original explorers of America.
By: Lindsey Williams