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Varjavand: Welcome to the new American nation

RezVarjavis an associate professor economics finance Graham School Management St. Xavier University Chicago. He is author recently published memoir “From

Reza Varjavand is an associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of Management at St. Xavier University in Chicago. He is the author of a recently published memoir, “From Misery Alley to Missouri Valley.”

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Updated: December 19, 2012 1:33PM



As was reinforced by the importance of the minority vote during the presidential election, America has been going through an inescapable demographic transformation and will continue to change.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that, for the first time in our history, the number of babies born to non-white families is greater than those born to whites, 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent.

CNNMoney says the cost of raising a child over 17 years is about $235,000. With increased living expenses combined with inflated expectations and a keep-up-with-the-Joneses mentality, it’s nearly impossible to live comfortably on one salary.

Labor force participation for women is nearly 60 percent today, up from 33 percent in 1950, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. It is no longer practical or economical for women to stay at home and raise the kids because doing so entails financial loss.

While white people are still a clear majority with 63.4 percent of the U.S. population, by 2050 non-whites will become the majority because of the diminishing birth rate among whites.

The New York Times reported that the rising number of minorities is a profound development “signaling a milestone for a nation whose government was founded by white Europeans and has wrestled mightily with issues of race.”

Some leading political analysts, most notably Pat Buchanan, are apprehensive about the country’s growing diversity and predict a loss of domination by the white majority. Some researchers have even tried to establish a link between the growing population of certain minorities and sluggish economic growth.

They contend that diversity and multiculturalism will eventually harm the American economy and alter the country we once knew and inherited from the Founding Fathers — especially if preferential treatment such as a race-based justice system and the unjust rationing of economic and employment opportunities overtake current prevailing forces.

Ironically, this argument is not made in the case of preferential treatment for the now-dominant majority in terms of justice and economic opportunities.

Seeking refuge in a polar movement such as the Tea Party as well as turning to Rush Limbaugh may comfort some fearful or enraged people regarding the loss of stature and clout on the political ladder and the loss of millions of blue-collar jobs once held mostly by white men.

These outcomes assume a very unflattering view of race, i.e. that only white Europeans possess progress-prone genes. However, European countries with predominantly white populations and leadership can have wage and income problems as well as sustained recessionary traps (as seen now with Greece and possibly Spain, Portugal and maybe even Ireland).

I believe this nation is not on the verge of disintegration as some pessimists have surmised. Instead, it is continuing its transformation as a nation of immigrants as it has successfully been doing for well more than 200 years.

Diversity is good for America and can be an impetus to economic growth, especially if minorities are bound by the same common thread, pledge allegiance to their new country and embrace their new identity.

The nation’s fate need not be held hostage to demographic changes that are bound to happen. Our strength has always been drawn from our immigrant heritage and has risen above all of the many challenges we faced. All we need to do is fine tune our success formula that is based on many elements, including our open-door immigration policy and a mutually accommodating partnership between government and the private sector.

We can remain pessimistic and upset or we can turn our frustration into a passion to move this nation forward, regardless of its population mix. As always, our destiny is in our hands. It’s up to us to use our ingenuity and imagination to create a happy ending for our national story and prove wrong the naysaying pundits who claim to know what is inevitable.

Is it a utopian idea to believe that an America run by minorities will be worse than an America run by whites? This belief is divisive and based on the erroneous assumption that persons of color are generally inferior to whites.

Minorities and those who migrate to the U.S. are not undesirable or mediocre people because they come from Third World countries. On the contrary, they are mostly intelligent well-educated people who are in search of a more democratic milieu wherein their talents can excel and be better utilized. They are usually not the kind of people who will be a burden on the U.S. system.

Today’s many doctors, engineers, ground-breaking entrepreneurs, academics and other movers and shakers who have their roots in other countries are serving this nation earnestly and faithfully and are leading it forward.

I pass along an ending, and hopefully comforting, note to my white friends. Rest assured that we are not going to do to you what you have done to us — that would not be forward-looking of us as a nation.

In 1993, Nelson Mandela said a “new society cannot be created by reproducing the repugnant past, however refined or enticingly repackaged.”

In this new society (circa 2050), we are not going to appreciate you only 50 percent for 100 percent of your performance. You will be treated equally, whether your name is Reza or Ronald.

Reza Varjavand is an associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of Management at St. Xavier University in Chicago. He is the author of a recently published memoir, “From Misery Alley to Missouri Valley.”



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