Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It's not always about Left vs. Right

Source: Demoskratia
This is a response to an article in a local indie "public interest" website, advocating what Liberal city planners and their allies like to call "smart growth. You can see the article here. And my answer below. It's about the San Francisco Bay Area, but it applies to any metropolitan area that's growing:

Most Americans think that politically we're divided between Left and Right.

Well, not where it comes to population growth issues. There, Right and Left are united in their indifference to what most people think...and want. And their indifference to reality to boot.

Because when you have a shining vision, it can crowd out reality, which is ambiguous and messy. Shining visions are so much neater.

And here both Left and Right unite in denying that there's any such thing as overpopulation. So what if the world's human population is expanding at the rate of over 140 extra people per minute? So what if the Bay Area (where I live) has doubled its population since the 1960's, turning all our freeways into parking lots when most people are going to/from work? So what if it would take 1.4 Earths to sustain Earth's current population with the current quality of life.

We're cantilevered over the abyss, with the porous aquifers of the world rapidly being exhausted--and when they are, they don't come back. Ever.

Yet denial reigns. The Left won't face overpopulation because someone said saying so is racist, and they'd rather let the world self-destruct than be accused of racism. The Right won't face overpopulation because they're like five year old boys who hate being told what they can't do. And the rest don't want to hear about it because it's, like, a total buzzkill, man.

So growth is good? Not one "growth" proponent will admit to there being any limit whatsoever, beyond which we'd have to say "whoa--that's it." If cancer could talk, it would talk like this. Think about it.

What about when the Bay Area is solid high rises stuffed with people, like Tokyo? Would that be cool with everyone? Just exactly who that lives here would benefit from such a scenario, apart from developers, realtors, and building trades unions? Everyone else would feel like they'd gotten the shaft--and they'd be right.

If infinite growth isn't cool with you, then where should we set the upper limit? How about the current level, and tell all the regional planner busybodies to go help Stockton (a city 50 miles from the Bay Area) learn how to attract jobs for its residents rather than having them commute here?

Lastly, a shrinking population was presented as an unthinkable tragedy, invoking dystopian visions of depopulated Rust Belt towns. This is ridiculous. As the article indicated, the Bay Area boasts one of the finest climates on Earth, and a beautiful physical setting. It's not remotely comparable to Detroit.

When I moved here in 1966, with half the current population living here, not one resident said "Wow, this is tragic! Only three million people here! Life is almost unbearable with so few people, with the freeways actually usable, with elbow room between communities. Let's get three million more people to move here!"

I challenge anyone who was here then to say they said any of the above.

Leftists are eager to sacrifice our quality of life for the sake of the poor--at least if they're another race. Rightist are eager to sacrifice our quality of life for the sake of the rich, since there's no virtue in anything but profit, apparently.

If you aren't one of those, I suggest you start challenging the assumptions that are so obvious in discussions with "Smart Growth" proponents: that growth is both inevitable and good; that we must sacrifice ourselves for someone else's ideal--that isn't even a valid ideal; that there's no such thing as overpopulation, climate change, ecocide, or all those other things nobody wants to think about.

Don't let the developers and the building trades unions push you around.

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