October 19, 2006


Ignore the Downsiders -- Population Growth Is Necessary and Good (JAMES LILEKS, 10/19/06, Newhouse News Service)

Some might find the 300 million mark a sign of American dynamism and success, but it's Growth, and Growth is bad. As a Reuters story put it:

"The 300 million mark has prompted alarm from some environmentalists, who question whether the country's natural resources can support additional population."

Of course it prompted alarm. The only way you can prevent alarm is to hold your breath until you die, and even then you get dinged for exhaling too much CO2 at the end.

Can we fit more people in this jam-packed cramhole? Sure. Granted, things are cozy on the coasts, but the Downsiders must believe the Midwest is one giant smoking tire fire incapable of supporting life.

North Dakota alone has almost 2 trillion square feet. It has nine people per square mile. France has 270 per square mile, and you don't see them clawing over each other to get their next meal.

Then again, France isn't adding to its population at the same pace as the United States. Most of Western Europe is shrinking. Blame sclerotic socialism; blame the sense of cultural self-confidence that died at Verdun; blame the "Zero Population Growth" nonsense that condemned the productive societies to willful self-extinction.

European culture is libertine but infertile; the culture of Muslim immigrants is puritanical but fecund. The former will eventually adapt to the wishes of the latter -- and that's a downside the proponents of the European model didn't see coming.

Perhaps they were too busy anticipating the day America collapses from the sheer weight of humanity.

The Washington Post's article on the 300 millionth Yank quoted Dowell Myers, a professor of urban planning. He sang the Downsider creed in fine voice: "When we hit 200 million, we were solidifying our position. But at 300 million, we are beginning to be crushed under the weight of our own quality-of-life degradation."

Who can argue? No one; our degraded life here in the Boomtown Gulag crunches the very air from your lungs. As Time magazine described this heckhole: "Pollution disintegrates nylon stockings in Chicago and Los Angeles. Rapidly industrializing Denver, which for many years boasted of its crystalline air, is now often smogbound."

Granted, Time said that in 1967...

It's important not to miss the point of these negative stories: for these folk there's a downside to the existence of anyone but themselves.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 19, 2006 1:01 PM

Lileks rocks.

Posted by: Mike Morley at October 19, 2006 1:46 PM

Seconded. Get some of his books like "Interior Desecrations" and the "Gallery of Regrettable Food." They're short, but pants-wettingly funny.

"The 300 million mark has prompted alarm from some environmentalists..."

Honestly, what doesn't prompt alarm from environmentalists? That's why nobody pays attention to them anymore.

Posted by: Bryan at October 19, 2006 2:24 PM