Modest Proposals for U.S. Overcrowding
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
China maybe the world's most populous nation, but the U.S. is poised to cross a big population milestone. We're about to become a nation of 300 million people sometime in the next day, according to the Census Bureau.
In this week's Unger Report, humorist Brian Unger has some ideas for curbing the population boom.
BRIAN UNGER: It's official: we're number three, behind China and India as the world's most populous country. Three hundred million people make up this great nation called America, and where is everybody? Half of them are standing in line at the DMV with the wrong form in their hands. The other half is in Vegas, getting away from it all.
But it is in the South that America finds its population popping like popcorn. The South, according to the Population Reference Bureau, will continue to have the largest share of Americans through 2030. Why? Because despite frying their food, people who live in the South aren't dying fast enough, nor are people in the West, notwithstanding skin cancer and silicon breast implants. They now outnumbered Northeasterners and are expected to overtake Midwesterners by 2030.
According to the Census Bureau, a child is born every seven seconds in this country. A migrant enters the country every 31 seconds. And every 42 seconds, a congressional page receives an overly friendly instant message. But in the U.S., a death occurs every 13 seconds. So with nearly two births for every death, if we want to put the breaks on the people surplus, it looks like we're going to double up on a dying.
Because two things we know for sure about curtailing population growth: in 230 years, we've never been able to stop migrants from making their way across the border or stop young Americans from making out in a car. Any determined young man will always find the way in. So we need to ask ourselves if this country were one person, what one person would we want this country to look like? Anna Nicole Smith or Kate Moss? We want to look like a hungry Kate Moss before she was photographed doing all that cocaine.
And if this nation wants to achieve the lithe silhouette of Kate Moss, it's got to get used to living alone without all the trappings of love and family. Yes, love and family. These by-products of humanity only encourage people to share, and sharing leads to happiness, which leads to drinking, physical touching, which leads to population growth, which contributes to separation, divorce, custody battles and amounting legal bills and even drug addiction. Who needs it when you can just be by yourself?
The beauty of being alone is that having a nation of zeroes leads to zero population growth. And really, Mr. President, what better way to have No Child Left Behind? But the biggest loser in the nation's growth rate is the environment. Air pollution is contributing the health problems. Land is being developed at twice the rate of population growth, and despite being better educated than ever, Americans are moving to regions with the least amount of resources - proving it's time to put prayer back in schools. Because 20 years from now, when two-thirds of the country is living in the suburb of Phoenix, it's only a prayer people will be living on, not water.
Here's the good news, America: if you like the dry heat in Phoenix or the sand in Florida, you're going to love Mars.
And that is today's Unger Report. I'm Brian Unger.
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BRAND: DAY TO DAY is a production of NPR News with contributions from Slate.com. I'm Madeleine Brand.
ALEX CHADWICK, host:
And I'm Alex Chadwick.
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