300 Million Americans

electoral college immigration census citizens
This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
Sometime tomorrow morning the Census Bureau says the U.S. population will reach 300 million. That's a lot of people. A lot of people to educate. A lot of people to house. A lot of people who need health care.

It's a perfect moment to ask: Are we pulling this off?

Does America continue to provide the opportunities it did, say, 50 years ago?

Well, there are a lot of jobs. Unemployment is so low as to be viewed as nonexistent, though if you were on the bottom of the job market — at the lowest paying level — you might not see it quite that way.

Real wages have not kept up with the minimum wage, and if you're down in that neighborhood, health care is hard to get, too. More than 40 million Americans don't have any.

On the other hand, the number of people whose net worth is a million dollars or more is up to 9 million. Imagine — 3 percent of the population millionaires.

And then there's the middle — working like crazy to get into the top group, while worrying to death that you'll be swallowed by the bottom.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.
By Harry Smith