We the People

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The preamble of the Constitution of the United States begins “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union…..” The Constitution went into effect in 1789. Here we are 228 years later.

Being a blogger is a good excuse to look some random stuff up and report it as if I did something cool. Here are some things I looked up about “We the people.”

In summary, people are people, we come from somewhere else. Most of us live clustered. Only about half us have a job but there are good reasons the other half does not. Relatively few of us extract stuff from the ground for a living. Education attainment is important to both income and job security. We spend lots on healthcare and our outcomes are good but not the best. Crime is actually lower than it was when we were younger. Then, finally, most of our time is spent living our daily lives the best we can.

The first humans in North America came through Europe and then Asia about 15,000 to 20,000 years ago. Starting about 400 years ago, this native population was largely decimated by epidemic diseases brought from Europe; violence and warfare. While there are many people alive today who have Native American ancestors, few if any, have only Native American ancestors.

In the 1780’s the American colonies were home to about 2.6 million people; only about 50,000 of which were Native American. Back then, what would soon be these United States of America enjoyed the highest standard of living in the world.

As a practical matter, every person in America today, either migrated here from somewhere else or their ancestors did sometime within the past 400 years. It is not a coincidence that the ability of ships to reliably travel the oceans started about 400 years ago nor that the native populations of America were mostly eliminated as a result.

Yes “we the people” are all basically migrants. Virtually all of us are “from” multiple regions of the world. But that does not mean we are different from other people in some way. As the science of genetics has advanced, it has confirmed that all people on the planet are the same species, Homo sapiens. There are no exceptions. Genetically humans are about 99.9 percent the same.

Our individual differences occur with about 0.01 percent of our genome. Genetically, our individual differences are mostly things like height, skin tone, eye color, etc. For how different people think others are from them, genetically we are all about 99.9 percent the same to each other. We the people are people just like every other person is.

Our country has over four times the urban dwellers than rural dwellers. About 82 percent of our population lives in an urban area. Rural American populations are older, have a higher poverty rate, a lower education attainment rate and lower healthcare availability. In today’s connected economy, rural America is also struggling to get broadband coverage.

Switching now to employment-related issues.

Only about half of “we the people” (161.5 million) are in the labor force. Most of those not in the labor force are children or the elderly. Also not in the labor force are military, incarcerated individuals, students, homeless, caregivers for children/family members and the like.

Of the 49 percent of “we the people” who are in the labor force, about 86 percent of jobs are in the service sector and only about 14 percent are in the goods-producing sector. It is not that we are manufacturing less or constructing less or extracting less minerals, oils and gasses. What has happened is automation, machinery and related process improvements have decreased the number of workers needed to do the job. Coal miners are mostly now machine operators. Construction workers operate more efficient machines. More and more manufacturing is highly automated.

Times have changed and the jobs today often require more training and education to do them well.

Increased educational attainment level increases earnings and reduces the odds of being unemployed. On average, a person who attained a master’s degree earns twice as much as a person who attained a high school diploma and is half as likely to be unemployed.

About 40 percent of “we the people” aged 25 did not attain more than a high school diploma. Another 40 percent attained a post-secondary degree.

Shifting now to healthcare.

The Peterson- Kaiser health system tracker is a respected authoritative source to which I defer. We the people spend the most on healthcare and our outcomes are improving but often still lagging behind comparable countries.

The violent crime rate is 37 percent lower than it was 20 years ago. The crime rates have been reduced by 30-45 percent for all major crime categories except rape (reduced by 17 percent).

How “we the people” spend our time? The Bureau of Labor Statistics periodically does the American Time Use Survey. We spend most of our time on the following: personal care (sleeping), household activities (food prep, cleaning, laundry, lawn and garden, etc.), working (getting there and home) and relaxing/leisure. Caring for others, educational and civic activities are done to a lesser extent.

Conclusion

“We the people” are really not much different from each other genetically. We all share similar experiences. Most of us work unless we have a very socially acceptable reason not too (young, old, military, caregiver and student).

Good education and healthcare are important to us. Most of us live in an urban area and crime is not good but not nearly as widespread as most believe. Finally, we spend most of our time doing what it takes to get by day-to-day living our lives.

 

Paul Leegard is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

 

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