Facing a Dying Nation?

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I am reminded of the lyrics from Hair as I read the New York Times account (May 17) captioned “Whites Account for Under Half of Births in U.S.”  There is a tinge of fear in the reporting; fear that our social compact cannot ultimately stand the strain fifty years down the road.

Are we in fact:

“Facing a dying nation
Of moving paper fantasy
Listening for the new told lies
With supreme visions …”?

The question is particularly focused from the Boston standpoint; a segregated city without a real societal plan to bridge the gap.  That 92% of U.S. population growth in the past decade came from Hispanics, blacks, Asians and persons of mixed ethnicity seems not believable from where I stand —  which of course is a measure of the issue.

The article worries whether the white de facto majority (today and in the near future) will be willing to actually pay the tab for educating a mass of children who do not look like that majority.  The article offers the self-satisfied assurance that the U.S. is better off than many European-based societies because at least we have a surge of young people to drive the economy and support the aging white population;  one expert is quoted:  “If the U.S. depended on white births alone, we’d be dead.  Without the contributions for all these other groups, we would become too top-heavy with old people.”

What is NOT said by the article or the quoted experts is the inverse of the worry that aging rich whites will not pay to educate the alien young.  What is NOT said is that the alien young will not pay to support the old age of the alien old.  Seems to me both stand-offs are plausible if we do not bridge our inbred prejudices, and fast.

In a world where Breivik blows away 77 people in Oslo and Zimmerman blows away one kid in Florida, in a world where on this morning’s drive time news we hear that a bunch of cops drill a 15 year old with a spray of bullets after the kid knifes the cop, in a world where just about every country or area seethes with the detritus of what must be a fundamental human condition –  the instinctive initial recoiling from “the other” — in a country which in the words of the Times “has wrestled mightily with issues of race, from the days of slavery, through a civil war, bitter civil rights battles and, most recently, highly charged debates over efforts to restrict immigration,”  it strikes me that we need to do a lot of work  and deal with a lot of backwards slips if the U.S. is going to pull this one out of the fire.

The American Challenge for this century may not be forestalling economic decline; it may be just surviving as a political entity that provides a predictable and adequate life style to a reasonable number of the people who happened to find themselves within its borders.


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