Thursday, September 1, 2011

Who loves overpopulation? Liberals...and Conservatives.

Here's a summary of both sides' discussion of overpopulation in the last 10 or so national elections:


So it's not a problem, right? There's plenty of room for everyone! Come on down!

After all, if you fly over America, you see gobs of open space. Food is plentiful and relatively cheap, ditto water. What's the problem?

The alternative explanation is that it is a problem but it's not one that can be exploited for partisan advantage, because both sides have so much to lose from admitting what a problem it is.

Liberals used to say overpopulation was a big problem, but in the 1970s racialists told liberals they were racists if they complained about overpopulation, so that was the end of liberal opposition to overpopulation..

Moreover, a growing population is good for business--for union members in the building trades especially.

And Catholics and members of most other religions (regardless of party affiliation) believe in placing no restrictions on population growth. Hence the constant complaints by the American government--regardless of which party's in power--to China about its One Child policy.

Which leads to conservative opposition to even admitting that any country anywhere has an overpopulation problem.

First, it's religious. Second, it's business. The developers those union tradesmen work for love more population. And if anyone who opposes conservatives raises the issue, they love to brand that person a racist, since it gives cover to the racism that persists in the hearts of so many conservatives.

Recently the economic conservative publication The Economist editorialized in favor of population growth at a means of coping with the graying of advanced nation populations--without even considering the cataststrophic consequences of human overpopulation.

Overpopulation denial isn't just a national policy problem. Here in California the state legislature is firmly in the New Urbanist camp. New Urbanism is a movement that ostensibly seeks to remediate urban sprawl and energy-intensive long commutes by building up housing in urban areas and guaranteeing low income housing by requiring developers to include same in their projects as an unfunded mandate.

And the New Urbanism takes rapid, continual, unlimited population growth not just as a given, but as a Good Thing, since it adds jobs for unskilled laborers.

Consequently my state's legislature has created a regional organization called ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments) dedicated to achieving the goals of New Urbanism.

It has found the college town I live in guilty of providing too many jobs--a terrible crime in the New Urbanism bible, apparently, because we provide more jobs than housing. So we're being required to cram more and more housing into the town, mainly through eliminated the kind of retail and office space that provided those extra jobs in the first place, and replacing them with high density housing, which then loads our streets with more traffic than they were designed for, and can't be widened, because the town it totally built up already.

It's also loading up our schools with more kids than they can accommodate, and our sewer systems, and power systems, and overburdening road repair schedules.

Plus our town, like most American cities, is having to pay out more and more money for lavish city worker pensions, causing it to skimp on infrastructure maintenance, even though that greatly increases the cost of maintenance when it's finally done.

All because no one in either party will even say the "O" word, much less admit the drastic steps that should be taken to deal with it.

Here, instead of adding housing, we should impose a moratorium on additional housing by denying water permits for it.

Nothing in the Constitution mandates accommodating limitless population growth by states, counties, or cities.

But the real problem is that dealing with overpopulation realistically goes against our instincts, which formed when the human race numbered a few thousand people, and the urge to procreate needed to be overwhelming. And we also have an instinct to trust our other instincts--that is, to be uncritical about them and highly suspicious of anyone who says things that go against them.

So it's easy for demagogues to use our instincts to further their goals, even though many of our instincts don't match our current circumstances.

Try bringing up overpopulation with people you know, and you'll see how their Procreate! Procreate! instincts kick in the moment you bring up the issue. 


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