This conversation is closed.

What issues should the U.S. Congress be addressing/prioritizing to prepare for a changing United States as we progress toward 2050?

As time passes, the United States will, more than likely, see changes within its demographics and its society as it gets closer and closer to 2050.

Data indicates that the U.S. population will not only grow but also see an increase in the aging of its citizens the closer we get to 2050. In addition, medical and technological advances will possibly enable people to live a longer, healthier, more productive life.

As well, some of the regions of the United States will see increases in terms of population which will stress the water resources and infrastructure of the area.

It is likely that many major cities will continue to be densely populated but many suburban areas will also experience tremendous growth.

Immigrant groups are also going to continue to grow and cultural, language, and educational needs are going to be addressed for this segment of the population.

Obviously, technology is advancing and this is going to impact things such as education, communication, and transportation in the near future, in 2050, and beyond

Furthermore, much of the infrastructure of the country is aging and in need of repair. Roads will possibly need to be widened to accommodate larger populations and bridges will have to be refurbished to ensure the safe travel of motorists and goods.

Overall, it is safe to say that the next 30+ years in the United States will bring about tremendous change.

As a result of these impending changes, amongst others, what issues should the lawmakers (Congress) of the United States be addressing and prioritizing to ensure that the citizens of the United States are adequately prepared when 2050 gets here?

This topic will be discussed/utilized in a high school class. Individuals are encouraged to comment and provide elaborate responses so that the high school students can evaluate and learn from your responses.

Thank you for your consideration in participating in this TED conversation.

  • thumb
    Nov 7 2013: Ending the War on Terror, abolishing the Patriot Act, the FISA court, and passing substantial reform to reign in our intelligence and law enforcement agencies. No more bribing other countries or borrowing money from China. Establish term limits in Congress. Income verification and mandatory community service for our welfare programs. A complete audit and overhaul of our federal departments. Intellectual property reform. More sovereignty to the states, less federal oversight, and a bunch of people need to go to jail.
  • Nov 6 2013: I think that this is a great post and tool to bring into the educational sphere... good idea! And that is precisely where I think a lot of work needs to be done in order to prepare for the future: Education reform.

    It is important to educate students for the new technological realities, but also I feel that it is important to educate students these days on how to take care of themselves physically and emotionally. Many young kids rely on junk food because they have parents who are absent or working, and the kids do not know how to make a simple meal for themselves. Education needs to be relevant for students and their diverse lives, and not just a large database of the future workforce and their marketability. Educators need to focus on the future of their students, and not whether or not the upcoming standardized tests are going to make or break them. No child Left Behind is actually Every child Left Behind, and this needs to be corrected.

    Education is highly prioritized in some nations, but not ours. Although the tide seems to be turning, we still have a lot of work to do to fix the system, for our kids and for our selves.
  • Nov 6 2013: There are two things that would transform our world in ways unimaginable: 1) Produce and teach people to eat mostly fresh fruits and vegetables and 2) Limit No-liability Corporations and laws to there original purpose which was to benefit instead of destroy public property.
  • Oct 31 2013: The main thing that the U.S congress will have to address in the year 2050, would be population. With the population growing, many things will be changing. Roads and bridges are going to need to be repaired and expanded, technology is advancing, education and communication will need to increase with the possible different races we might be getting, we will need to get more or better transportation, and the water resources will start to lower which will be a big problem.
    • Nov 10 2013: I wanted to include water resource and expanding populations in southern or desert regions who depend on rationed water. Congress might have to help fund large scale desalinization plants to offset droughts and climate change factors in 50 years. Now would be better but the technology isn't available.
  • Oct 30 2013: Chad, you've asked --
    What issues should the U.S. Congress be addressing/prioritizing to prepare
    for a changing United States as we progress toward 2050?

    There are 10 things --
    1. Tax the Rich at the same percentages as the middle class.
    2. Eliminate Limited Liability Laws.
    3. Establish the public financing of congressional campaigns.
    4. Strengthen Lobbyist's reporting and registration requirements.
    5. Change offensive war policies to defensive war policies.
    6. Require Integrity Means Tests for elected officials and government employees.
    7. Reduce to 10% the Military's share of the Budget.
    8. Provide 100% transparency in government.
    9. No more secrets.
    10. No more lies.
    • thumb
      Nov 5 2013: Frank, why #1? I don't understand.
      • Nov 6 2013: Whisky, I have a problem typing these days.
        I will be tossing out the bull and my little finger will hit Esc. Poof, gone.
        Tough getting old.

        Anyway, The owner of the Ford magazine ran for President a few years ago.
        He gave good and valid reasons for a Flat Tax of 10%. I agreed. At that time.

        Since then the nation has shifted to a budget of equal parts.
        Military and Welfare.

        Military Enlisted Employees are paid by the government to Kill Enemies,
        Welfare Beneficiaries are paid by the government Benefits for Survival.
        Both can be considered at the bottom of the income totem pole.
        Leaving only the Rich and Middle Class to provide the Tax-Base..

        The Rich and Middle class are Not paid to Kill Enemies,
        and they are Not paid Welfare Benefits.

        The Rich and Middle class owe the government their financial support,
        with portions of their government allowed, earned incomes.

        Without trying to find out who made how much, and how they did it.
        The IRS can just charge a Flat Tax.

        Is it fair? I don't know. But those who earn, -- owe !!!
        • thumb
          Nov 7 2013: Hey frank, what percent do you think the middle is class today? If you believe it is a low number then how would the gov. make money this way? Is the gov. bankrupt? Oh, who cares about Detroit, eh?

          If it is a high number (as should be), why are so many out of work? Why are people struggling that do have jobs?


          Maybe technology can help you adjust that keyboard how and wherever you want those keys to be, old one ;) whoever thought the corner was a great place to put the esc key, eh?
  • thumb
    Nov 11 2013: The very first thing they could be addressing, is how to get along with each other....very basic practices of conflict resolution. I do not believe anything else is going to change for the better, until our representatives can behave like intelligent adults, and genuinely consider all issues in a respectful, timely manner.
  • thumb
    Nov 10 2013: To strive to become a happy nation rather than a super power.
  • Nov 7 2013: Whiskey, U rite
    It has been exactly 100 years since this country was solvent.

    Detroit, hell, don't forget Stockton, California, and there are many more. .

    Every War makes jobs, but, it is done with borrowed monies.
    And, Military spending acts as a stimulus only while we do War.

    Long Term Effects of 10% of GNP borrowed and spent for military purposes.
    1. One-third of all scientists and technicians work on Top Secret Department of Defense projects.
    2. Nearly half of the non-obligated share of the federal budget is spent by the Defense Department,
    and their Top Secret Weapons labs.
    3. Congressional appropriations using black budgets, fund Top Secret NSA and CIA activities for
    both the State and Defense Departments.

    Imagine a parallel simulation, This taken from a 1986 study. (Imagine, because it will never happen).
    Assuming the transfer of $35 billion from the defense budget to human and physical infrastructures,
    the result is $5 billion dollars in additional GNP, and 250,000 new jobs.

    No nation can build or maintain world leadership with a rotting economy, like we have today.
    The damned government is a broke joke.
    The Congress has Lobby Lice.
    The President has Delta Toys.
    None have a lick of sense.
    Yesterday Kerry was trying to separate Spying from Trading, pleading with the EU nations.
    Too late.

    Wow!! -- my little finger missed the Esc key.
  • Nov 4 2013: Sea levels are rising. By 2050, sea levels are predicted to rise by 10-18 inches, and more that twice that by 2100. The continental US has 22,000 mile of coastline that will be affected by this sea level rise.
    How does Congress deal with this?
  • thumb
    Oct 30 2013: Start by addressing this problem:

    ...and the rest will follow!
    • thumb
      Oct 30 2013: agreed! Not sure.....should we take it by force? No more loans please.
      • Nov 7 2013: Joshua, They obviously have the "force" part under control.
        And those loans just dry up when they are not paid back.

        Fort Knox might be a better way to go. Oh, No, I just realized
        the last time Fort Knox was audited was in 1957.
        What do you think? Anything left?
        Just a hollow sound.

        We could all go Gold Mining in Alaska or the Yukon.
    • Nov 7 2013: Gosh Allan, ya gotta dime?

      It kind of makes you want to know their names and home addresses.
      I bet that information isn't available in the telephone book.
      Of course, the cops don't let theirs out either.
      I bet the NSA and GCHQ knows.

      What was it Marie said, just before she lost her head? "Let them eat cake."

      The other side of the coin, is that we all could become more ambitious.
  • Nov 11 2013: I think we need to grow more businesses and reduce the size and power of the government because in many situations, the businesses are the ones that benefit society the most.

    We also need to change our gun laws. This is something that should be changed now and not in 2050. Sure it's one of our amendments but when our founding fathers wrote this, they had no idea there would be automatic weapons in the future.

    Most importantly, we need to change our education system. It is archaic and inefficient and as a developed country, we should set an example for the rest of the world right away. Ken Robinson has made his point perfectly here on TED and it's something that needs to be done.
  • Nov 10 2013: Preparing for 2050 could include dismantling the industrial age rules and schedules created in the last 50 years.

    Beginning with energy. Congress' ability to enact an energy defense bill that deconstructs the electrical grid by replacing it with distributive solar. Congress could enable an auction for consortium's of multiple industries to bid on regions for the right to install and maintain a collective solar array on every brick and mortar structure with an electrical meter. The array could include wifi and cell phone signal boosting technology. The auction would include low cost energy development bonds and structure minimum and maximum targets on cost and implementation and other assorted means testing for DBA. Creating a new trillion dollar economy, producing a large number of new industry jobs and new investment outlooks.

    Congress could base the corporate tax rate on the number of employee's employed by a corporation including contract workers or employee's "doing work as" DWA. Contributing factors include the more employees at or above the new wage minimums the lower the corporate tax. And eliminating all taxes on earnings created outside the continental states.

    Allowing states to abolish the nine to five schedule for our school districts. Flexible day schedules to accommodate parents/workers shift schedules would contribute to higher grade satisfaction and lower class sizes. Allowing districts to hire permanent part time instructors, and allowing districts to cut costs by incorporating into their curriculum internet based instruction. Allowing districts to subject focus and allow districts to teach business curriculum k-12. Learning Flexibility is learning satisfaction.

    Congress would benefit by eliminating the authority of judges and magistrates to officiate all marriages. Further eliminating the judiciary's authority to impose stop or invalidate any law that congress has enacted without filing writ amending thelaw through the congressional process
    • thumb
      Nov 11 2013: Be it in your or my country, the mention of congress amuses me. I hope you know which creature's collective noun it is.
      • thumb
        Nov 11 2013: Some sources say the group designation for baboons. is "congress of baboons." But the term for a group of owls is "parliament of owls."
      • thumb
        Nov 11 2013: Ironic statement from someone with your avitar?

        I don't think you should insult baboons like that.
  • thumb
    Nov 10 2013: Make arrangements for the default of the US.
  • Nov 10 2013: How to take even more money from the middle class and other wage earners and hand that money out to their respective partys' clients, of course!
  • Nov 10 2013: As to the question of what issues Congress should be addressing, i think the question truly is what issues should American citizen / customers be addressing. Congress does represent or work for us as should all governments work for their citizens. Otherwise, why do we need them, what good are they? Rhetorical to some degree.

    I absolutely see a real strong need for prioritization of objectives by our society. I will speak to our American one in this moment. I see priorities of American citizens as follows:
    1- Implementing term limits of 8 years max for all federal, state, local, city, dog catcher's within these here United States. No more lifetime guarantees for politicians and their benefits. This can eliminate corruption, nepotism, promote true political theory and move us forward on everything else once we have regained integrity within the political sphere.
    2- In the same light as #1, remove ALL monies from politics. Replace political funds with a government provided identical amount for each candidate to use as they see fit, whether at the federal, state or local level. The goal is to eliminate ALL specific lobbying for the powerful few which currently overshadows the good of the whole or the many.
    3- Invest wisely in education throughout society, focusing obviously on the lower and middle. Just imagine if we truly could educate and motivate 20 - 30 million currently unproductive citizens. I see this being done by gathering the brightest 1,000 educators and hammering out a better way to spend the billions we seem to be wasting with insufficient change apparent over the last several decades.
    4- Invest wisely in infrastructure and environment. The objective here is to both update existing infrastructure that is in need of repair AND invest in future long term infrastructure related to global warming and earth changes. We have to invest now to protect the shorelines of our large cities so that our children and grandchildren will be safe.
  • Nov 10 2013: Educational Reform, Jobs, Housing and Adequate healthy food for the whole of the U.S population.

    A well educated, well fed, housed and working populace is key to a healthy, happy and functioning population.

    However, Congress can only do so much. A lot of those reforms would only be successfully implemented at the lower state levels with state government taking responsibility and raising their standards. In the news it always seems to be big government this, big government that, but what about local government? What is preventing them from taking a stand, seeing that the way things are now is not working and adjusting their local goals and ambitions? A population is more willing to invest when it directly effects them and isn't some distant argument down in Washington D.C.
  • thumb
    Nov 10 2013: Chad, I still stand by my first post but would like to add this.

    What, by the Constitution, is the federal government responsible for. By knowing the answer to this you SHOULD be able to determine where to emphasis Should be.

    Let us know the results of your class project .... Bob.
  • thumb
    Nov 9 2013: I disagree with the premise that cities will likely grow larger, more dense. Also, the idea that suburbs are destined to grow as well as a natural annex to the city.

    Technology is making it possible to do much of typical office work remotely. I can take my "office" downstairs to coffee shop, to Starbucks, to the lake, mountains, another state, country or continent.

    This ability will become too attractive to workers to be stopped by any workplace policy. It faces certain limitations such as the worker at the Starbucks doesn't have the same flexibility. But, that flexibility at this point is not being fully understood and utilized. This will change. Think of how few people used the cell phone 37 yrs ago. Similar changes and growth will affect the mobility of the workplace in the next 37 yrs to 2050.

    There is little intrinsically necessary in the city for most people. Most would move to a rural or other place if given that possibility. It is my firm belief that the cities will shrink, suburbs will remain about the same with slight shrinkage, but the rural and wilderness areas will see increases in population.

    This will cause concerns that urban areas haven't dealt with very well in recent years. Our cities seem to be geared for "preordained" growth patterns remaining steady. Congress should be looking at the adjustments necessary for America to move to a less urban dependent nation. The poor will likely feel the bulk of the burden first - consider Detroit - which then requires local planning in conjunction with national planning. Not taxes, but planning. Congress CAN actually do that...and should. How would the needs of the cities change if they were faced with half of the population they have now? How would the needs of the rural areas change if they had an influx of people living there, but working somewhere else? Does this create a global marketplace and are we planning for that locally and nationally?
    That'll earn my vote!
  • thumb
    Nov 9 2013: How about going after the salaries and benefits enjoyed by politicians at every level as well as their more than generous benefits and often platinum plated pensions? Scrap their pensions especially for all those already collecting. Let them fend for themselves just as so many ordinary citizens are having to. Let them find health care in the private sector and run the risk of being denied like everyone else. If it good enough for the citizenry its good enough for the politicians.
    (As shown in part, and taken from newspaper articles.)

    This Court having found that the Application of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
    for an Order requiring the production of tangible things from VERISON satisfies the requirements
    of 50 U.S.C. ? 1861,

    IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, the Custodian of Records shall produce to the
    National Security Agency (NSA) upon service of this Order, and continue production

    Pleadings in the above-captioned docket
    12 April 2038

    We have a lot of problems to address in our nation of United States.
    This type of problem we need Not Have At All.
    This is why the word; WRONG was coined in the first place.
  • Nov 6 2013: Will the gap between the wealthiest people in the US and those living below the poverty level be more or less next year? in 10 years? in 50 years? What causes this gap? Is it fair? Why or why not? What could you do about it?
    Is religious participation in the US increasing or decreasing? What is causing the change? Is this good or bad for those living in the US in 2060?
  • thumb
    Nov 5 2013: Small steps to eliminate the monetary system. To be honest, I think it is certainly headed it this direction because of the huge separation of wealth. It will all be stuck on one side to where it will all become worthless and the voices of the majority will finally have some power to do things with out it. How fast can we get there?
  • Nov 4 2013: I think the usa should grab the immigration bull by the horns. assigning qoutas isn't working. perhaps we should advertise what our quotas are and send delegations to the countries with the largest quotas to explain the process and tell then how much it is going to cost. we could deploy U.S.A. immigration lawyers to guide them and collect the documentation necessary for living in our country.
    here's an idea, we could furnish immigration opportunity for Americans our creativity and entertainment is still popular we could help Americans go to classes in different countries with ally status so they can compete with the worlds trained immigrants. we must consider the modern anthropological relationship between the ethnic groups and different countries. an example Europe is feeling threated by Africans coming there they don't want to assimilate and the last time they were colonizing Africa and before that fighting Islamic Africans off and on; Europeans feel much more comfortable with Black Americans because of the WW11 liberation and the WW1 liberation. May I add that Black Americans are assimilationists. from the stories of my family, Europeans seem to relate with them because their food and music and language come from the same region. when I was a teenager the Black-American girls would call their best clothing "my Chanel" :-)
    what would it take to do an immigration exchange? white Americans feel comfortable around Africans because of the peace corp and the struggles in south Africa with Nelson Mandela. many white americans think that Africans are more authentic in language and culture. this situation is also applied to the Caribbean immigrants. people often have their vacations in the countries of the Caribbean.
    • thumb
      Nov 5 2013: Elena! You are not going far enough. Why don't we all just go back to the countries we came from? What about every family or person is only allowed to live in any country in the world for a total of two years? Free transportation too!
  • Oct 31 2013: Some issues the goverment should adress would be to make more public transportation. Also the road expansion would be great, but they will need to repair the bridges. With the population growing we need somewhere to put all these people. We will need to build more houses and schools. WIth these new houses and more things being built new and more jobs could open up. The loss of water in many states will cause a large problem. Last, since tecnology advancing and people living longer more people will be getting social security and new laws will need to be set for when you can get social security.
  • thumb
    Oct 30 2013: Chad, It is always helpful to know what part of the world we are addressing. Where is this school? What is the class? What year are the students?

    In order to approach this a understanding of economics, political, science, history, and the capability to discuss items such as religion and politics without the emotional baggage that always accompanies.

    Have the students read the concepts of Keynesian or Austrian economics?

    Are they familiar with background players such as unions, George Soros, Harold Ickes that are major influence in todays politics?

    Do they understand the consequences of the 17 trillion dollar debit?

    Can they associate the impacts of Obamacare in regards to cost .. taxes ... law ... subsidies ... insurance death spiral ... medical profession ... as can be observed in National health care in the EU ...

    Can they make assessments from the National Debit Clock ... compare the past years with the present ... funded liabilities and unfunded ... employment ... welfare ... food stamps.

    Compare Argentina of 1916 to the current USA (political and economics).

    Compared the current "big government" approach to a "Constitutional" government? What, by the Constitution, are the few areas that the federal government has domain over?

    What is United Nations Article 21 and why did Hilary Clinton commit the United States to it. Under what label is it being waged in the USA?

    What does transparency in government mean? Is the US government transparent.

    Assess the weakness and benefits of enforcing the 10th Amendment of States Rights

    Do they know the history / origins of unions .. the goals and objectives

    In order to project the future we must know / understand the past and the present ... and be willing to learn from it.

    What is our foreign policy ... diplomatic stats in the world view?

    How has STEM and CORE affected the educational system ... what is the role of the federal, state, local governments

    Out of space ...