U.S. Population Grows Due to Immigration as Infrastructure Weakens

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A story in USA Today reports that “The U.S. population will soar to 438 million by 2050.” Most of the population growth will be driven by immigration and live births to immigrants. How depressing. And it ought to make you mad, so that you want to “do something” about it… like build a wall or something.

Really, why is it that the so-called “immigration debate” in the United States is often tied up with terms of race and seldom tied into the discussion of depleting resources and declining infrastructure? If the immigration debate was framed in the latter terms of resource depletion and infrastructure, people would focus on the point that the nation is “full.” The irrefutable fact is that the U.S. resource base is fast-depleting and the infrastructure system is overloaded. There is no more room at this inn. It’s time to hang out the equivalent of the “No Vacancy” sign for very some practical reasons.

The United States is already a net food-importer, yet the nation will now according to the Pew Research study grow its population from 300 million to 438 million within the next 43 years? In what soil will the food grow? How much food will be imported, and from where, and how will the nation pay for it? With the national credit card, that is now broken?

And while we are discussing eating, let’s wash it down. Water is in critical shortage in many regions of the United States, so what will all of these “new” people drink? For that matter, what will the existing population drink? At the other end of the alimentary canal, the U.S. infrastructure of sewers and pollution control systems has long been inadequate. Water and sewer system construction has traditionally lagged population growth even in the best of times. It is both expensive and politically difficult to gain approvals even for replacement sewage systems, let alone new build construction. Really, who wants a sewage treatment plant in their back yard? C’mon… raise your hand.

Let’s think about energy. The United States is already the world’s largest oil-using nation (21 million barrels per day) and the largest oil importer (13 million barrels), so again… how much more oil will these new immigrants consume? While we are at it, the electricity system is strained to its limits in several regions. Each year, the system requires more and more juggling and wheeling of power just to remain up and running. (For example, within the U.S. power companies move electricity from Montana to California; from North Dakota to Illinois; from Tennessee to South Florida.) From where, and from what power plants (few are being built), will the nation obtain its electricity?

As things stand, the world is at the cusp of long-term oil depletion and output decline (and the high grade coal reserves have been dug and burned as well). Thus the existing U.S. population base will have its work cut out just to maintain some semblance of an energy-based lifestyle for the current numbers. That is, the United States should expect the volumes of oil available on world markets to shrink. There will be less and less oil available to import, and at higher and higher prices. Ditto with coal. And as for “alternative” energy sources? Hey, these are great present investments. But they are lousy overall solutions to the future energy problems of 300 million people, let alone 438 million. Something is going to have to give.

Let’s think of some other resource constraints in the United States as well.

Have you tried to find a parking space? The major cities are full-up, surrounded by sprawling suburbs and built-out exurbs. Roads are packed and traffic congestion is chronic. Yet few new roads are being built anywhere for lack of space, let alone the NIMBY-ism that permeates the culture. The nation is having trouble maintaining its existing road and bridge infrastructure. Yet won’t “another” 138 million people need a few more paved roads, bridges, tunnels and exit ramps within the next 40 years or so? Who will build those structures, and how will the nation pay for them?

Where would these roads go in any case? You can already get to most places that you want to go, using a highway or road in some state or repair or another. But when you arrive at your destination you typically find that much of the formerly rural landscape has been transformed into development and track housing, all of which uses energy and water in wasteful ways that will be untenable in years going forward due to scarcity and high costs. While we are at it, for some strange reason, most of the U.S. population wants to live within 200 miles of a coastline. So lets add the majority of those 138 million new bodies to the existing coastal bands. Tell me when you feel crowded.

How else can people move about? Not on trains. The U.S. rail system is essentially maxed out with trains hauling freight shipments, hence there is no room in or near any urban area to acquire new railway rights of way. So rail and light rail which very few Americans currently use in any case will not grow in any big sense in future years.

Other U.S. public infrastructure such as the hospital and public health system, court system, public schools and higher education system are similarly maxed out. The United States can barely serve the population base of 300 million with the existing sets of buildings and personnel. In many jurisdictions, the fact is that the public IS NOT being served in any adequate sense. And in many locales, people are being treated, served and/or allegedly “educated” in trailers, for lack of space in the “real” buildings. Many of the “real” public buildings in the United States are aged and long-past replacement. (In Pittsburgh, for example, no new public high school has been constructed since 1923.)

This does not even address the profound national issues of “borders, language and culture” that will be affected by new waves of mass immigration. 438 million? That number is just too many to allow any sort of society to function on half a continent, mostly near the coastlines. But one could also focus on the “depletion” of the traditional American concepts of national boundaries, or the decline of the nation’s common English language and some semblance of an “American” culture based on a shared history. No, if you focus on that kind of thing, people will think that you are talking about immigration in terms of race.

So better just to focus on the fact that an increased U.S. population from whatever source will lead to massive shortages of food, water and energy. And the public infrastructure will simply break down. Vast swaths of the country will become unrecognizable slums filled with broken-down housing, bad transportation, and hungry and thirsty people living on the squalid edge of human survival.

Now, let’s talk about building that wall…

Byron King
for The Daily Reckoning Australia

Byron King
Byron King currently serves as an attorney in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1981 and is a cum laude graduate of Harvard University. Byron is also co-editor of Outstanding Investments.
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Comments

  1. Interesting article. Population increases exponentially while available food increases linearly. Peak oil, peak water, peak resources, peak food!

    It is easy to see where this is heading!

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  2. ….immigration and colonisation are birds of a different colour…..and now that we are colour blind…we’re calling one the other…..

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  3. But you can’t have a North American Union if you build a wall in the middle!!

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  4. Population growth is an international issue not a national issue. I can’t believe you think it’okay for people to go hungry as long as it is outside of our human made, geographically insignificant borders. Dont worry YOU mr. selfish, you won’t go hungry. By the way, how many children do you have? I hope none because I dont want them filling up our schools, hospitals and taking my kid’s jobs.

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  5. Great post, great site, nice to see at least some people in Australasia are awake to the unsustainability of mass immigration.

    Another point worth mentioning is that the US doesn’t have significant migration (unike say, the UK) so the argument that it needs overseas workers doesn’t really stand up.

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  6. Bravo Byron.
    A country is defined by its borders, and if it has no borders then a country loses control of its own destiny.
    Developed countries can’t help the third world by becoming part of it via uncontrolled mass immigration. It’s pretty obvious really, but this point is lost on those open-borders activists who seem to have a grudge against Western civilisation and hide their destructive agenda behind their sanctimonious moral supremacism.
    There is no justification for uncontrolled mass immigration, which is why it is never seriously debated, and its supporters are reduced to making ad hominem attacks on anybody who dares question their propaganda. For example, like accusing Byron of being a selfish person who wants people in other countries to starve.

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  7. It is an interesting article. I live in Klamath County, Oregon where there is a serious “water war” going. There is not enough water for the Tribes, Salmon,Trout, Suckerfish, farmers, ranchers and irrigators. It would appear that the only solution is to develop deep water storage to replace the irrigation waters or eliminate farming, cattle and sheep from the Basin. Then where will you get your food and the hay for animals?
    Some are demanding the removal of 4 hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. They would be replaced with natural gas burning plants. Now, how much sense does that make? All of this electricity by the way serves California not Oregon. I believe it is 78,000 homes.
    I did go to a seminar taught by Lance Wallnau a renowned Motivational speaker. He reported meetings held by members of the new government of Mexico. Their focus, he reports, is to create living wage jobs in Mexico so that their people will not want to leave. And if that is successful even the ones that are here now will want to go back. So, as a nation, let’s help them develop living wage jobs.
    In the Word of God it says that if we would repent and return to him, he would heal the nations. So, let’s get on our knees and repent of our selfish, Godless ways and ask God to do just that. Heal our nations. All of them.
    There is only so much natural resource and it is renewable if managed properly. You can’t tell me that God didn’t know that at some point the population of the earth would be more than the land could sustain. But, we still need to be good stewards of the land until that day comes.

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  8. Come to Dallas, TX and see the tragedy in action.

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  9. If there really is no more room at the inn, the next logical step would be to mandate a strict limit on the number of births. Sounds logical, doesn’t it?

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  10. in response to the article “U.S. Population Grows Due to Immigration as Infrastructure Weakens” I would like to say that people have been coming to the this country before it was even a country. most of what this article talks about is something that already has been tought about and figured out by someone, that is why there is a system in place where people pay taxes for everything they consume. the more people, the more taxes, the more more money.
    What I believe is happening is that the United States is preying on poor countries by monopolizing their economy so that only american products are sold therefore driving local bussineses and companies out of bussines. examples of this is the music industry, the food industry, banking industry. Unfair agreements like the Free Commerce Treaty have put some countries on the verge of bankruptcy. in countries where people make 1/10 of what someone would earn here in the states. people have to pay the same prices we pay here in the United States forcing people leave their countries or die of hunger because they cannot afford to buy anything. Because of the American products sold in this countries, people know that this country is where the money is. they come here looking for money but they end up staying because they cannot leave and comeback. The problem is clear but no one seems to come up with a clear, fair, logical solution. It is sometimes easy to point out problems but the challenge is can anyone come up w a solution?.

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  11. How about a realignment of priorities at the government level, i.e. abandon global combat and space programs which consume hundreds of billions of dollars annually in tax payer dollars? Modern technology potential could easily develop clean energy (solar, hydro, wind), water (extracted from the atmosphere) and food production alternatives (green houses), however if the majority of funds continue to be squandered on a perpetual terrorist war which subsequently increases terrorist activity, well then, maybe the people should take the power out of the officials’ hands who manipulate this hegemony. Or, remain complacent and stay the course. Humane solutions are undoubtedly available, it’s merely a matter of prioritizing objectives.

    Ramsefall
    May 3, 2008
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  12. Great article. We have to build a wall to keep those Australians out who can’t mind their own business.

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  13. Comment by Ramsefall on 3 May 2008:

    How about a realignment of priorities at the government level, i.e. abandon global combat and space programs which consume hundreds of billions of dollars annually in tax payer dollars? Modern technology potential could easily develop clean energy (solar, hydro, wind), water (extracted from the atmosphere) and food production alternatives (green houses), however if the majority of funds continue to be squandered on a perpetual terrorist war which subsequently increases terrorist activity, well then, maybe the people should take the power out of the officials’ hands who manipulate this hegemony. Or, remain complacent and stay the course. Humane solutions are undoubtedly available, it’s merely a matter of prioritizing objectives.

    Unfortunately the above is rubbish. I wish it wasn’t.
    Peak Oil means that we have a dwindiling(or gone) window of opportunity to create infrastructure to offset post oil economies.
    Mexicans in the USA or Afghani’s in Australia will suffer the same if not worse than where they came from when the fall happens.
    Consumer apathy will rule out the revolution required to correct things before it’s too late.
    Peak everything is coming. MRE’s, Rifles and horses will be the new currency.

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  14. There has been no significant petroleum exploration activity for 15 years which guarantees a shortage for an extended period, regardless of the state of ulimately recoverable petroleum. It takes a long time to develop a new oil field, decades, not just a few years. The misallocation of wealth into ‘paper pushing’ rather than genuine investment is really going to bite the English speaking world.

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  15. This is just an article that shows how selfish the american society is becaming. This is not a USA problem Mr. Cum lade.. If you are so smart why dont you run for the Presidensy and fix the problems?
    Malthus, Darwin, Hitler,marx, Machiavelo, Mao-Tse,..
    Why can people just live and let others live as well?
    we are so busy finding the faults that we completely missed the beauty of life! But in despite of all this pesimistic people I will rejoice because I know there is only one life and we better make the best of it!

    Claudia Bueso
    October 10, 2008
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  16. THE IMPACT OF IMMIGRATION ON US AND OUR COUNTRY
    Obama hasn’t said any more than those before him. It is our time to tell our government what we want.

    By bringing in more immigrants, it reduces the benefits that many of the low income families today are receiving. Many Americans feel that bringing in millions of mostly impoverished people from third world nations is a generous and ethical thing to do, a way to share the wealth. But this generosity is having unintended consequences hich are very destructive to this country and to the rest of the world. Importing unskilled workers helps fill menial jobs at low wages, but these immigrants also impose substantial costs, mainly by being disproportionately on welfare.

    The National Academy of Sciences estimated in 1997 that the typical native household pays somewhere between $195 and $265 in additional taxes (in 2003 dollars) because of immigration. Since the number of households has increased to over One Hundred and Twelve billion during 2008 this puts the national fiscal burden somewhere between $21 billion and $29 billion per year or more if we were to increase the above additional tax figures per household . According to Peter Brimelow, there is little support for the argument that immigration is a great boon for the country. One solution would be to have a ten-year residency requirement for welfare recipients; those who planned to immigrate for welfare would then be much less inclined to do so. Welfare reform legislation passed in 1996 prohibits immigrants from receiving welfare as long as they are non-citizens. Becoming naturalized takes at least five years. I am uncertain as to whether this legislation has remained in tact.

    It is obvious that immigrants in this country who are on welfare would communicate the tremendous benefits this provides to them so they encourage family members to jump on the bandwagon. Obama is interested in keeping familes together (this should be only husbands, wives, and children not every other individual under the sun.) I hope we would be checking whether the individual already in our country isn’t a long time resident on welfare and therefore we certainly would not want to approve other family members outside of the country like cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. to keep them company.

    Immigration levels are determined solely by Congress, and Congress is free at any moment to alter the number of immigrants. For example, the current level of immigration is about four times greater than we averaged throughout most of this century.

    Immigration laws have usually been written in response to the demands of special interests who profit in some way from this policy. Their profit is extremely expensive for the rest of us. Many immigrants and recently naturalized citizens are using: Medicaid, SSI, Social Security, subsidized housing, fuel assistance, food stamps, TANF, bilingual education, subsidized legal aid, and earned income tax credits. The disparity between what immigrants pay into these programs and what they use in services runs into billions of dollars every year. Can any of us imagine living in America when every city has double its present population, and is still growing? Double the traffic, double the number of houses, schools, prisons, etc? Is this the future we want to leave to our children?

    Last year, in a speech on immigration, President Clinton stated, “No other nation in history has gone through demographic change of this magnitude over so short a time”. “Mark my words: Unless we handle this well, immigration of this sweep and scope can threaten the bonds of our union.”

    Our current immigration policy is making it increasing difficult for our most vulnerable populations—blacks, minorities, recent immigrants, and the poor to earn a living wage. Immigration on our current scale has been hugely profitable to certain sectors of our population, but never have we seen such disparity between rich and poor as we see in America today. Our natural resources cannot sustain an infinite population growth without seriously impacting our quality of life and that of our children and future generations. Government must begin weighing the impacts of unabated population growth and we must become more involved to make sure this is accomplished.

    Do we have an obligation to protect the living standard of unskilled workers in this country, or are we going to require them to compete with third world wages? And if we decide not to protect our workers, then who are we as a nation and what are the values we stand for? There is nothing more powerful than putting our own house in order, stabilizing our population, lowering our consumption, planning for the welfare of our descendants, and setting an example of enlightened self government for the world.

    Western nations pouring massive aid into Africa over the previous three decades has done very little to improve the condition of that country. By providing aid to Africa, It does nothing to empower third world people to solve the problems in their native land. Saving people is not the same thing as empowering people to save themselves. By contract, China, during the same period and with virtually no Western aid at all, dramatically ended hunger, lowered infant mortality rates, increased life expectancy and delivered basic education and health care to 1.2 billion people.

    If we are motivated by true compassion for mankind, then it is time to step up to the plate—fore go the empty humanitarian gesture of “saving” a handful of outsiders—and commit ourselves to a world in which all people are empowered to provide for their families. This is the future we should want.

    Some of the feelings expressed above by Jonette Christian are what i also agree with and think we should be considering.

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  17. Impact of Immigration – Continued

    Like Byron King indicates in his statement we haven’t even addressed
    the profound national issues of “borders, language and culture” that will be affected by new waves of mass immigration. 438 million? That number is just too many to allow any sort of society to function on half a continent, mostly near the coastlines. But one could also focus on the “depletion” of the traditional American concepts of national boundaries, or the decline of the nation’s common English language and some assemblance of an “American” culture based on a shared history.

    An important requirement should be they must speak the English language within an allotted time frame. We should not have to pay for a translator or additional classes to provide for the language conversion which we already are doing. This also takes money from our federal budget. If we are concentrating on only family members, it should be the responsibility of the family member already in the US to see their family member does speak our language otherwise they do not qualify for benefits and would have to return to their own country. I know it seems harsh, but no other country would put up with what we have been taking. Before long we will be on the outside looking in.

    I know our ancestors were also immigrants. However, they were eager to start a new life, many had suffered horrendous strife, lost family members and friends. Still they were not discouraged. They struggled through the severe depression, unemploymet, and some various forms of famine. They didn’t look to the government for hand outs. They didn’t have health care, medicare, welfare or social security. Yet today,as soon as the immigrants and some other groups are not provided with these benefits they go on the defensive and protest.

    Increased U.S. population from whatever source will lead to massive shortages of food, water and energy. And the public infrastructure will simply break down. Vast swaths of the country will become unrecognizable slums filled with broken-down housing, bad transportation, and hungry and thirsty people living on the squalid edge of human survival.

    Our most important issue should be securing our borders to eliminate the tremendous flow of illegal immigrants coning into our country and the amount we allow in should be based on a ratio determined on realistic factors. Our country has tremendously cut back on the size of our families being realistic that we need to feed, cloth, shelter and educate them. However, I do not see this being a concern on most of the immigrants coming into our country.

    We need people who are concerned about improving conditions for their children, as opposed to a society that uses their children to solve their poverty. Immigrants wanting to have larger families to gain more benefits certainly do not help us or themselves in the long run.

    I also see the immigrants that come into our country start trying to take over our country by making demands for things they feel they should have(although they probably never had them in their country) and refusing to speak our language.

    Another point we should give consideration to is almost all the time the immigrants coming into our country always move into states long the coastline like Florida and California. I feel these two states alone are becoming over saturated. If immigrants want to come into this country, we should be designating what state they must reside in.

    We have to take back our country. If they abide by the rules they should have no problem. But they must abide by our rules not theirs.

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  18. Hooley dooley … those living in nations of immigrants sure change their spots quickly in the scheme of things. It is proven that economies extract overall net economic benefits from immigration. Immigration can strain and cause price bubbles in real estate where there are infrastructure & urban land release problems but otherwise positive economic balances are derived from new household formation and eager workers bringing positive culture of savings and pushing hard for a better life for their kids. That is “save” … not borrow and spend on discretionary purchases and “services” in malls and salons and fat food diners as practised by most tribal anti-immigrant warriors. And it is these lazy non saving non tax paying descendants of immigrants that are failing to invest in infrastructure almost nahdah and it has nothing to do with population growth strain. Like how many new passenger trains & lines have been built anywhere in the US? How many new roads & bridges & dams by way of percentage in comparison to the first 2/3 of the 20th century?

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  19. well quite simply because we don’t want too many coming in at once. its that simple the numbers. most u.s. citizens like our culture and don’t want it in danger of being taken over. as a citizen i expect immigration to be regulated. i only want the best and the brightest to be able to come in at that. for every one million immigrants that come in 80 million mostly poor are born around the world. so this guilt feeling that ross has cannot be dealt with by letting all in. people are going to have to do the best they can where they are. they had better wake up to the realities of diminishing resources. good luck to all.

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