Steyn on population
0 comment Sunday, November 23, 2014 |
Steyn holds forth here on the absurdity of concerns about our growing population.
Lest some of his legion of fans accuse me of picking on Mark Steyn ('unfairly targeting' him, as the liberals always say when aggrieved) it is his very popularity, his icon-like status that is the problem; hee is hailed as a great sage, wit, seer, prophet, and the epitome of conservative wisdom. So he has enormous influence for many. His words are treated as gospel by many on the 'right'.
I will grant you that he is glib and witty, but his ideas are not sound, and when all is said and done, he gives the impression of shallowness when it comes to the important questions.
In this typically flippant piece, he is sneering at those who are concerned about the burgeoning American population. Last week we were treated to a week-long party by the MSM, ballyhooing the 300 millionth 'American.' The fact that we may have actually passed the 300 million milestone years ago, as Professor Virginia Abernethy says, is immaterial. The stories were all about getting us used to the idea that there is a surge in our population (who could fail to notice it? Crowded schools, crowded freeways, housing shortages, who could have guessed that our population is growing?) and that the increase is due mostly to immigration. And that 'immigration' is mostly of the illegal kind.
But no matter, say the cheerleaders, because we are becoming more 'diverse,'
However, notice that not once in Steyn's piece does he mention the word 'immigration'. Just to be sure that I was not missing it somewhere, I searched the page for the word 'immigration', and it was not found. How can Steyn, this supposed genius, miss that ponderous elephant in the national living room? One can only conclude that he is purposely avoiding looking at it.
Steyn asks instead why we are failing to celebrate the 300 million milestone. He answers his own question by saying that 'too many people who should know better' are peddling '40-year-old guff' about overpopulation. He then breezily adds,
America is the 172nd least densely populated country on Earth. If you think it's crowded here, try living in the Netherlands or Belgium, which have, respectively, 1,015 and 883 inhabitants per square mile compared with 80 folks per square mile in the United States. To be sure, somewhere such as, say, Newark, N.J., is a lot less bucolic than it was in 1798. But why is that? No doubt [Professor Dowell] Myers would say it's urban sprawl. But that's the point: you can only sprawl if you've got plenty of space.''
So: according to Steyn's logic, as long there are places that are much more densely populated than America, we can never legitimately say that America has too many people. So let's just keep packing 'em in, apparently.
He then goes on to crow about the affordability of housing in, oh, let's just say Crawford, Texas, giving us the news that
...a three-bedroom air-conditioned house in Crawford, Texas, could be yours for 30,000 bucks and, if that sounds a bit steep, a double-wide on a couple of acres would set you back about $6,000.''
Just to show how atypical Steyn's example is, this recent article says
The median price of a single-family home fell to $219,800 last month, a drop of 2.5 percent from the price in September 2005.''
According to the median house value in Crawford, at least in 2000, was $51,300.
So yes, it is possible to find a house in Crawford for the low price Steyn cites, but that is a low figure. And Crawford, Texas, is not typical; living expenses there are below the average.
Steyn, however, is not interested in making a real argument, but rather sneering at and dismissing those who think half a billion might be an undesirable population figure for America.
No one seriously thinks 400 or 500 million Americans will lead to mass starvation. By "unsustainable," they mean that we might encroach ever so slightly onto the West Nile mosquito's traditional breeding grounds in northern Maine. Which is sad if you think this or that insect is more important than the developed world's most critically endangered species: people. If you have a more scrupulous care for language, you'll note that population-wise it's low birth rates that are "unsustainable": Spain, Germany, Italy and most other European peoples literally cannot sustain themselves -- which is why, in one of the fastest demographic transformations in human history, their continent is becoming Muslim.'
Steyn offers no reasoning whatsoever as to why lower populations for Europe would render Europeans unable to sustain themselves. What, precisely, does Steyn think happened in past eras when the population was reduced drastically, with widespread plagues and pandemics, or warfare? In Europe, during the 5 years at the height of the Plague, 25 million people died. By some estimates this was half the population of Europe.
During WWII, Germany lost 7.5 million people, for example.
Whenever the population was reduced by some event like war or disease, there was social upheaval and dislocation, but somehow the people did sustain themselves. The countries did not vanish off the map, and the people did not become extinct. So I suspect when Steyn asserts that Europe cannot sustain itself without more population growth, what he actually means is that their present system, the welfare state which is entrenched across Europe, needs constant growth in order to keep up the pyramid scheme. More young workers are needed to take care of the older, retiring workers. Maybe the welfare state cannot continue without continuing, infinite growth, but can human societies count on perpetual growth? Come on, people; we live on a finite planet, with finite resources. And those 'conservatives' who jeer at such a plain, commonsense statement, are merely reacting in a knee-jerk fashion to what they have disdained as 'liberalism', 'tree-hugging', etc. It's more than unfortunate that conservatives have ceded the environmental issue to the left. If we conservatives are not concerned with conserving our resources and environment, as well as our quality of life, what good are we? It is not enviro-weenie-ism to want population growth to be within reasonable limits. And liberals are not wrong on everything; even a stopped clock is right twice a day, as the saying goes. Conservatism had better be about something more than just mindless automatic gainsaying of whatever the liberals/leftists say.
And here's another thought: maybe our country is big enough and wide-open enough to comfortably hold half a billion or more. But the fact is, the growth which we are experiencing now is happening too fast. What kind of 'conservative' applauds uncontrolled, precipitate growth, growth and change which are disruptive, disordered, and most of all, unnatural? If our population grows by natural means, that would be by increased family size; our own citizens reproducing at a more normal rate, rather than the depressed rate we have seen since the 1960s. If our population was growing by that method, we would be planning for it, anticipating the need for more schools, housing, infrastructure, jobs, etc. As it is, too much of our growth is by invasion, with even our government in the dark as to how many people are surreptitiously entering our country each and every day. The present growth in population is wildly uncontrolled, and the results are yet unknown. We can only extrapolate from present trends that there will be more of the same social dislocation and chaos that we are seeing: ethnic strife, increasing crime, resurgence of contagious diseases and pests (like bedbugs) Not to mention stresses on infrastructure, the need for more housing, prisons, schools, and the ever-increasing costs of social programs demanded by the immigrants, both legal and illegal.
Steyn refuses to deal with this aspect of the population question. He flatly asserts that an ever-growing population is an imperative, and that to meet this requirement, Europe is forced to admit millions of hostile Mohammedans. With Steyn and others like him, the choice is extinction or mass immigration of hostile third-worlders.
And there are many who seem to see the situation this way. I crossed swords in a debate once with a neocon blowhard who actually stated that 'We could bring the whole population of Mexico here and not be crowded; we could absorb all of Mexico, no problem!'
Whenever these blustering neocons want to discredit any concerns about population, they exhume the corpse of Thomas Malthus and give it a ritual drubbing. All they have to do, they believe, is sneer 'neo-Malthusians' and throw out a few insults against liberals and 'enviroweenies' and they have won, so they think. Unfortunately, their tactics often do work; the debate is then shut down, with their opponent labeled a 'liberal' 'envirowacko' or whatever.
But Malthus cannot be so easily dismissed. What he said was basic common sense: just as nature tends to be overprofuse in reproduction (as with plants and animals) so with human beings: if family size increases beyond the ability to feed and provide for the children, there will be poverty and hunger. We can see this in the Third World. Malthus's theories, so ridiculed by some 'conservatives', explain exactly why we are seeing mass immigration from the Third World: they continue to reproduce beyond the ability to feed and care for their offspring, and as a result, we in the West are being asked to carry them on our backs. At first, it was only a matter of humanitarian efforts to feed, clothe, and bring the Christian gospel to the starving people overseas, but now they are being dropped on our doorstep, like abandoned foundlings. And now we are responsible for them.
(This is reminiscent of the habits of the cowbird; but that's another story)
Malthus's theories have not been proven wrong by Steyn or anyone else. No, the world has not ended with a whimper -- yet, but maybe we have only been given a reprieve. The fact is, overpopulation is a problem in the rest of the world; it's only we Westerners who are the exception. The liberal Malthusians were wrong in this particular: they directed their 'zero population growth' efforts only at the developed (Western) countries, the countries best fit to take care of their offspring. However these liberal dogooders did little to discourage overreproduction in the backward Third World, and now their overflow is becoming our problem.
Given a choice between welcoming in a flood of hostile, incompatible people, who will change the West into something approaching the benighted countries they left behind, and being forced to adapt to a smaller population in our country, I would enthusiastically choose the latter. I have faith that our Western ingenuity, inventiveness, and can-do spirit could find a way to cope with smaller numbers. The Japanese are managing to keep their country functioning with lower birth rates, without welcoming in hordes of hostile strangers; they prize their culture and their people enough to shun that choice, and choose instead to use automation to compensate for a declining work force. To listen to Steyn and the other open borders neocons, we have no choice. We have to leave our doors open and see our country transformed and dismantled, or else perish helplessly.
I don't accept that false dilemma.

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