This is a partial transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," October 7, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
STUART VARNEY, FOX GUEST HOST: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Stuart Varney, sitting in for Paul Gigot. Any day now, the U.S. Census Bureau will announce that the population of the United States have reached 300 million, making it the third largest country behind China and India. And we're just getting bigger. The population is projected to hit 400 million in just another 40 years. The United States is the only industrialized nation with significant population growth. While U.S. birth rates have held steady at the replacement rate of just over two children for every woman, the birth rates of Europe, Japan and Russia have plummeted. But the story isn't just how much America has grown, but how much it has changed. Joining me now, is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Ben Wattenberg. Ben, first of all, let's talk in terms of size. We've doubled our population in the last 56 years to 300 million. Do you see that as a plus or a minus for America, big picture?
BEN WATTENBERG, SENIOR FELLOW, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Very much a plus. I mean, the United States is not what they used to call the sole superpower, or I now call the omni power, just because of our military. It is because we are a big continental, robust, polyglot, innovative, free nation. And I think that's why the stock market has gone up among other things. And we have plenty of room. I mean, the wise guys say, when you're flying across the country, they look down they say that's — it is empty, it's fly over country.
VARNEY: But, Ben...
WATTENBERG: And people say — I haven't checked the numbers — but you could you put every person on the planet earth and give them one acre of Texas and there would be room enough for everybody.
VARNEY: But there is a counter argument.
WATTENBERG: Yes, there certainly is.
VARNEY: And that is that rapid population growth depletes natural resources — water, energy, in particular — and it contributes to green house gas emissions and global warming. Now, do the environmentalists have a point at all here?
WATTENBERG: I think a very limited one. And one thing they never take into account — you know, Stuart, I write about demographics. And I wrote Lyndon Johnson's speech for the 200th American — which has much the same argument. But because population, worldwide, — it's a global phenomenon. It's called global warming. Worldwide, the numbers are going down. And so you are going to have — the original global warming projection was based on 12 billion people, based on some, I think, phony U.N. poll. It now looks as if we are going to top out at seven or eight billion and come down. So that means 35 percent, 40 percent less global warming in the short-term. And maybe much more a much steeper decline later on. And the other thing is immigrants help us fight this allegedly terrible budget deficit. The average age of an immigrant is 29. So they will be paying into the Social Security system for 40 years before taking out a nickel. They are educated typically on somebody else's dime. By the second generation they speak American. Every evidence we have is that they are even more patriotic than native-born Americans who are the most patriotic in the world. Mexican-Americans in Iraq — the Defense Department seems to have numbers for everything except who's going to win the war. Mexican-Americans in combat in Iraq have won the highest proportionate share of Congressional Medals of Honor of any Americans.
VARNEY: All right. Now, look to the future. In the next 40 years, we're going to add another 100 million people to the population of the United States. There is going to be an ethnic shift. There's going to be, to some degree, a cultural shift. Do you think that, by the middle of this century, when I say I'm an American, it will mean something different from what it means today or 50 years ago.
WATTENBERG: Not as much as you think. First of all, when the 2000 census came out they said, oh, by the year 2030, America's going to a majority-minority. We have always been majority-minority. I mean, you talk to people and they're half Scotch-Irish, half British, half German, one quarter Indian. I mean, that's nothing new. Tiger Woods is a case in point. I mean, he calls himself an Amerasian, an American Indian, African American, Thai as in Thailand. I know, in the Jewish community that I grew up in, in New York, was almost entirely Jewish. Now you have Jews all over America, marrying, intermarrying, keeping their religion, changing their religion, their new wives changing their religion. It's all mixed up.
VARNEY: No change in America's basic principles, the founding principles of being of what is America? No changing that despite ethnic change?
WATTENBERG: No. I don't think so. I think the reverse is true. We, who were born in America, we are just automatically Americans. These people made a choice and said I want to join that wonderful club. They are very good citizens.
VARNEY: That's exactly what I did. And I thank you for that compliment. Ben Wattenberg, thanks very much, sir.
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