1. One of the problems facing the US today is that of illegal migration. According to the estimates of the INS (currently CIS), in January 2000, the total population of illegal migrants in the US comprised 7 million people (CIS 2003). Out of those, 32% lived in California, and largest increases in the numbers of illegal aliens were also posted in Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Georgia, and North Carolina (CIS 2003).
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The estimates of the Census Bureau show an even higher number, 8 million illegal aliens living in the US as of 2000. The Center for Immigration Studies finds that “the two "magnets" which attract illegal aliens are jobs and family connections”. Discrepancy in salaries between American workers and those in developing nations drive people across the border. The result is illegal networks that help channel new entrants across the border.
Despite measures taken to combat the problem, the flow does not abate. Angela Kelley, deputy director of the National Immigration Forum, states that “the continued growth of that population simply shows that current immigration policy "is broken" (Moreno 2005:A02). One way to combat illegal migration is to supply all legal entrants as well as citizens with some sort of ID that will be required in virtually all establishments: banks, supermarkets, stores etc. The lack of such identification will become instant proof of illegal status or indication of need to perform a background check for the police or other law enforcement bodies.
Another serious problem that emerged only recently is the incumbent Administration’s crackdown on free exchange of information. Especially worrisome is “White House's directive that allows the NSA to monitor the calls and e-mails of Americans without court approval” (“Arlen Specter to Dick Cheney: Butt Out on Wiretap Probe”). The initiative is assumed to violate the constitutional rights of Americans. Yet it is presented as an important tool in combating terrorism and was labelled by the President as “a terrorist surveillance program” (“Bush Defends…”). It seems necessary in this respect to introduce additional legislation that will protect civil liberties in the face of the stepped up efforts in the fight against terrorism. The new acts have to outlaw any indiscriminate tapping of phones or e-mails, subjecting them to the court approval.
2. One of the future problems that have attracted a lot of debate is the projected shortfall in Social Security. Washington Post’s editorial “No Social Security 'Crisis'” cites the projections of a gap of $3.7 trillion in the next 75 years. The solutions are delayed because politicians do not risk voting for unpopular measures that may alienate voters.
Some politicians even question the very existence of the crisis. Thus, R-Calif. Bill Thomas insisted that lawmakers “have to reach a consensus on the level of urgency and the magnitude of the problem” (Lawrence 2005).
However, independent analysts arrived at the conclusion that “the Trustees' projections for productivity, labor force growth, and longevity show the projections to be reasonable and perhaps even optimistic” (Biggs 2000). Slow growth of the economy combined with aging of the population is bound to result in shortfall in Social Security.
While it is clear that seniors may have to work longer in order to provide for themselves, it makes sense to start a program creating special ‘senior’ jobs. These jobs can be offered to people over 65 who are still willing to put in a few hours a day. Either corporations or special entities can find ways to utilize the expertise and experience accumulated by seniors without straining their fragile health.
Another problem that will surface in the nearest future is the need to accommodate soldiers returning from Iraq. Many soldiers discovered that homecoming proved “a far more complicated, even conflicted, experience than it seemed it would be back in Iraq when they thought of little else” (Myers 2003). The soldiers often encounter the so-called Vietnam syndrome manifested in alienation, depression and a range of psychological disorders (Satel 2004). Even if they feel more or less sound psychologically, there is a new problem: many veterans are struggling with finding work as their long absence from the workforce and psychological problems make them less attractive to employers (“Reserve soldiers at a loss for jobs”).
The solution for soldiers’ problems can come from soldiers’ unions, but should be facilitated by the government. Thus, the federal government can offer an incentive plan to businesses that want to hire soldiers returning from the war. Incentives can be offered in the form of tax breaks or additional guarantees for loans taken out by businesses that hire 3 or more Iraqi veterans.
3. I do hope that the US can address its problems with due effort. Throughout the centuries, this nation faced a variety of challenges, yet each time emerged vigorous and able to protect itself from future challenges. The strong civil institutions including non-governmental organizations and independent press are a powerful means of identifying problems. The mechanisms for their resolution do not always prove effective, but they reflect ultimately the evils of society that is not always capable of adequate action. Our country does not face the serious challenges that confront developing nations such as access to fresh water, basic sanitation etc. However, the problem of the US is that it is already a great power with much to lose. It takes effective and imminent action to remedy the problems in order to continue as a great power.
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