Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SAME IDEALS, NEW FACES; 'Nation of Nations'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SAME IDEALS, NEW FACES; 'Nation of Nations'

Article excerpt

The United States of America has always been an ideal.

Not an ethnic group. Not a race. And not a religion.

Generations of immigrants came to this country and worked hard so their children could have a better life - pursing happiness.

And for American Indians and for African-Americans, the ideals, at first, did not apply to them.

Now in the 21st century, the American ability to reinvent itself will be tested once again.

Author Joel Kotkin describes it well in the new book, The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050.

By 2050, America will have at least 400 million people, about 100 million more than today.

MORE YOUTHFUL NATION

By 2050, most of America's population growth will be racial minorities, especially Asians and Hispanics, and not due to immigration.

By 2050, the United States will be a "staggering amalgam of racial, ethnic and religious groups," Kotkin writes.

As other nations, especially in Europe, seek to integrate immigrants, the United States should remain a model.

America also will be the youngest of the industrial democracies. Kotkin sees this as mostly a positive. By 2050, he envisions America as "the most affluent, culturally rich and successful nation in human history."

MOVING TO HINTERLANDS

Where will all these new people go? To infilled core cities, to new suburbs, to settling the great open spaces between the nation's coasts, by moving offices closer to homes.

Even with 100 million more people, America still will be only one-sixth as crowded as Germany, Kotkin writes.

Reports the Economist: "America's geographical size will be a huge advantage. It means Americans can keep reproducing and welcoming immigrants without their country ever feeling crowded."

Throughout it all, America's ideals must remain the same: faith in the individual, family and community, Kotkin writes. While Americans seem to have an innate ability to be self-critical, the future isn't greener elsewhere.

INVITING THE AMBITIOUS

America's willingness to accept immigrants offers exciting opportunities. From 1990 to 2005, immigrants started one-quarter of all venture-backed public companies.

More than half of all the skilled immigrants in the world come to America.

"The U.S. is a sponge that's happy to soak up talent from across the globe," an Irish scientist said.

America has more than twice as many foreign students as any other country. Why educate them and kick them out?

By 2050, Hispanics will account for one in five Americans, due mostly to births, not immigration.

Today's young Americans are the most multiracial in American history.

Walt Whitman wrote that America is a "nation of nations."

We should welcome those willing to work hard and join our "civil religion" based on freedom and meritocracy. …

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