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January 13, 2006

Feeling a Little Crowded In Here?

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Unwelcome, if not unexpected, news for those of us who think the country's too crowded already, thank you very much: Sometime this year, the U.S.'s population will pass 300 million. When I was born, there were around 150 million people in the country; as recently as 1967, the population was only 200 million. Some estimates have us passing 400 million by 2040, and won't that be fun? Interesting comparison: in 1970, the country was 4.5% Hispanic; this year it's 14.5% Hispanic.

The main cause for these ballooning numbers? According to a Roper study, "immigration is the driving force behind population growth in the U.S." Interesting to learn from the same study that 3/4ths of current Americans think immigration rates should be slowed.



posted by Michael at January 13, 2006


Michael, you fail to mention that your poll was conducted by an anti-immigration lobbying group. You also fail to mention that US population growth is less than 1% per year, which is right in line with its rate of growth ever since 1900. Or that the Census Bureau sees that figure dropping even further, to all-time lows, after 2030. The fact that the US population is growing is a major long-term competitive advantage for this country over the increasingly-geriatric Northern Europe and Japan. You should be celebrating, not bemoaning how "crowded" the country is. If you don't like crowds, try moving out of Manhattan -- the place with the highest population density in the USA.

Posted by: Felix on January 13, 2006 11:20 PM

Earth to Felix: 1% of 100 million is 1 million, while 1% of 300 million is 3 million. We're talkin' compound interest here. Meanwhile I don't notice the square mileage of the US growing any. BTW, the figures the Roper poll turned up match pretty closely the figures I've seen in many other polls about Americans' attitudes towards immigration rates.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 13, 2006 11:27 PM

Not all the immigrants are from the outside. Indian reservation populations are also exploding. Half the enrollment list is kids. (No figures on hand, sorry.) They've filled up the rez housing and are beginning to buy houses in the surrounding small towns. At one point in history, about 1900, the Blackfeet were down to 500 people. Now they're 16,000.

Our present governor is no dummy. He's being VERY friendly. He realizes they are not obedient anymore and they haven't forgotten the past.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on January 13, 2006 11:56 PM

the US used to be the promised land where all could go and start afresh. or at least used to be billed that way. a unique place on the planet -- a promised land, a salvation to all. ('give me your huddled masses..."). the anti-immigrant groups want it to become something else: just another country among many.

of course, in the same breath, many of the same people feel that the US is still somehow unique nevertheless...

Posted by: gawain on January 14, 2006 12:32 AM

Actually I think a lot of where people stand on these questions boils down to taste, don't you? Maybe Felix likes the idea of a more crowded US. Me, I simply don't like the country as much as I did whe n it was less crowded, and the idea that I might live to see a time when the US has twice the people it had in 1967 gives me "Blade Runner" nightmares. So I'm against that rate of change. I can summon up a decent number of rational-seeming reasons to back my position up, but if I'm being honest I gotta admit it boils down to taste.

Note to self for future blog-posting topic: the role of taste and preference in political positions and decisions ....

How do you-all feel? Do you like the idea of a US with a population of 400 million? Do you hear "population of 400 million" and think "Great! I can't wait!" Or do you feel misgivings?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 14, 2006 9:14 AM

More people for the USA?
If they are like me (in tastes & preferences) then I am all for it.

Posted by: Raw Data on January 14, 2006 9:25 AM

Micheal -

If you're so oppressed by overcrowding, maybe you should spend more time outside of Manhattan. Just a suggestion.

It's a serious point, though - I have noticed that most of the people who are concerned about "overpopulation" tend to choose to live in the mostly densely populated areas of this still mostly empty continent...

Posted by: jimbo on January 14, 2006 11:06 AM

Michael, go back to that article you're linking to. Look at the graph showing population growth since 1900. It's basically a straight line, on a linear scale. Which means that population growth used to be MUCH more than 1% per year: when the population was 100 million, population growth on a percentage basis was much higher than it is now.

As for the square mileage of the US, it's enormous. Population density in the USA is tiny, and you know it. Let's see: the land area of the USA is 9,161,923 square kilometers, according to the CIA World Factbook, which at a population of 300 million works out to just under 33 people per square kilometer. France has 111 people per square kilometer. China has 140. Germany has 236. The UK has 247. Japan has 340. America isn't too crowded: it's not even close.

Posted by: Felix on January 14, 2006 11:44 AM

Oh, and before you start saying that it's all because of Alaska or something, I'd point out that Texas has the same population density as the USA as a whole. Even New York has a population density of about 155 people per square kilometer -- much lower than any country in Europe. California works out to 83 people per square kilometer. Wyoming has, um, 1.96 people per square kilometer. You could multiply it by a hundred and it'd still be lower than Germany.

Posted by: Felix on January 14, 2006 11:57 AM

Raw -- Funny. I remember Roger Scruton cracking a similar joke. Something about how he was all in favor of there being a Secretary of Culture (or something like that), so long as that person was him.

Jimbo -- Did I say anything about "overpopulation"?

Felix -- If I should get out of Manhattan more (actually, I do get out of Manhattan a lot), then, well, maybe you should move to Germany. I mean, given that you're so fond of more-crowded conditions, why waste time agitating for America to fill up more? (Especially given that many of the people who are here already are of the opinion that it's crowded enough already.) Why not just go straight where it's already crowded, and where people are apparently OK with that?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 14, 2006 12:04 PM

Michael, I did go where it's already crowded, and where people are not only "apparently OK with that" but where they actively love it. A wonderful place, actually; I wouldn't live anywhere else. It has a population density of 26,325 people per square kilometer, and it's called Manhattan.

Posted by: Felix on January 14, 2006 12:14 PM

Sorry to harp on about this, but I feel I need to point out one more thing. You get "Blade Runner nightmares" when you think of a US with a population of 400 million. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that "Blade Runner" has twice the population density of Manhattan -- call it 50,000 people per square kilometer. (There's no Central Park in Blade Runner.) Now consider what the population density of the USA would be with a population of 400 million: 43 people per square kilometer. You're off by a factor of a thousand, Michael.

Posted by: Felix on January 14, 2006 12:19 PM

Felix (1) -- There's a distinction between "a country" and "a city within that country," no? Cities everywhere are pretty crowded places. A squnched-together populace is part of what makes a city. I kinda like city living myself. But "do you like country livin' or city livin'" is a different discussion than the one about "how crowded do you like your country to be?"

Felix (2) -- When I write about a "nightmare" I don't generally expect people to take me to be advancing a meant-to-be-critiqued-in-a-"rational"-way statement! I'm talking about preference and taste. I liked the U.S. better when there were 200 instead of 300 million people in it; I expect to be even more dismayed when it passes 400 million, should I live so long. I could advance some "rational" reasons for my preference, but really it boils down to preference. By the way, if you spend much time in Texas or Wyoming or Arizona -- areas where I guess you'd like to cram a lot of people in -- you may be struck by how many people you run into there who think that their neighborhood's plenty crowded enough already. What do you propose to do -- override their druthers? And what if they come out with a rifle and tell you to "git"?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 14, 2006 12:32 PM

I know that illegal immigration is one of your hobby-horses and you are welcome to ride it as it might very well be a problem if the illegals don't integrate.

But it's not a problem because of "over-population" -- and yes whether you used that term or not, that's the concern which comes through; if that's not the issue, then what is? -- anyway, the problem is not the numbers of people but the amount of room which each one of us takes up because we have so many automobiles.

(And since we are told that they'll be shuttering the gas stations in the next 3-4 years -- peak oil -- and we'll all be walking, the problem should solve itself!)

Smile and be happy!

Posted by: Raw Data on January 14, 2006 12:37 PM

Raw -- "Overpopulation" is a kind of pre-defined issue that comes equipped with all kinds of pre-defined '70s eco-overtones. If you say you're concerned about "overpopulation," then you're invoking a whole line of debate-descent: Club of Rome, Julian Simon, etc. I'm doing my lame best to raise a couple of other topics.

One is preference. Population-wise, how do you *want* your country to look 50 years hence? I think it's an important question. In my case, I'd prefer that it not be more crowded than it already is. Maybe someone else wants to see it jammed to the gills. Both preferences are legit -- they're just personal preferences, after all. But personal preferences, IMHO, should play a much larger role in the general debate than they do. Where immigration and population are concerned, people seem to spend all their time squabbling about principles, economic questions, and justice questions. They rarely raise the matter of their own personal preference. Why not?

I find the reluctance to do so rather tragic. The people in a country are entitled to have some say about the direction they want their country to go in and the shape they want it to take, after all. In this case: Do they want their country to be a more crowded place or a less crowded place? When they are asked how they feel about how and where the country is going, more than half of Americans say they don't like it. Whether this opinion and preference should prevail is a genuine matter for debate. But I think it's certainly something that needs to be taken more note of than it is.

The other topic I'm hoping to trigger off is related: How much of a role should the opinions and preferences of a nation's current population play in policy-making? I think our ruling elites have become somewhat disconnected from our general population. The elites do a lot of things the general population simply doesn't like, and the general population thereby becomes more cynical and contemptuous of the elites. I think this atmosphere of mutual contempt and resentment isn't healthy. One of the reasons I push the immigration topic as hard as I do is that it's the topic on which elite opinion and general opinion seem to differ most dramatically. Elites are for population growth and lotsa immigration, general Americans dislike both. I push the subject because it's a subject that's much on people's minds and much-underdiscussed. But I also push it because it's a slightly-suppressed near-hot-button issue, and because it throws the elite/general-populace dilemma into high relief.

Obviously both cases (more immigration/less immigration, etc) can be made in a debating-team sense. But my larger goal is to point out how awful it is that our elites aren't more respectful of general opinion and preference, as well as how awful it is that the general population has grown as hostile as it has towards its elites. (This holds on many levels, as far as I can tell -- certainly in the culture world it's true.) I've got nothing against elites per se. They're inevitable, after all. But I do think they need to behave with more of a sense of respect and humility towards their fellow citizens than they're currently doing. They need to win back some genuine trust. A good place to start is by listening, paying attention, respecting -- and perhaps even learning from, and learning how to serve -- general tastes and preferences.

BTW, my crits of elites hold for both Repubs and Dems, as far as I'm concerned ....

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 14, 2006 1:17 PM

Michael, if you're going to judge people's opinions by asking questions like "would you like your country to be more crowded or less crowded", you're guaranteed to get the answer you're looking for. You're a wordsmith by trade: you know full well the negative connotations of the word "crowded", just as you know full well that by any reasonable measure, the USA isn't crowded at all. Would I "like to cram a lot of people in" to Wyoming? No. But I do think that slow population growth of less than 1% per year is much, much better than a slow population decline, which is what is happening in places like Italy and Japan. It's a bit like inflation: a large positive number is bad, a small positive number is good, and any negative number is disastrous.

My point about Manhattan, by the way, was entirely in response to your ridiculous "so why don't you move to Germany then" comment. My point about Germany, or about northern Europe in general, was not that it is crowded, but rather that it is not crowded. No one in Germany thinks that the country would be better off with a mere 50 people per square kilometer, which would correspond to a population decrease of about 80%. They would think that the resulting country would be some kind of ghost, a shadow of its former self -- and they'd be right. Yet that's a population density much higher than the one which gives you Blade Runner nightmares.

The point about crowding is that when you ask your questions, there's an implication of ceteris paribus. Keep everything else the same, you seem to be saying, and would you prefer more people or pretty much the same amount? Well, the answer to that one is easy. But the fact is that the extra people are, well, people -- people with lives and ideas and excitement, who can and do make their community a better place.

Do you want more immigrants in California? No. But are you happy that Sergey Brin emigrated to California from Russia in 1979? Yes. Think of how much better Sergey has made your life -- and then think again about how much you hate immigration.

Raw is right -- your assertion that the USA is "too crowded" is simply a desperate argument you're trying to corral in favour of your anti-immigration stance -- and it doesn't stand up. There is not a single metric which shows America to be "too crowded" -- so all you can do is fall back onto "personal preference" and opinion polls.

And the fact is that even if you preferred the America of 1967 to the America of today, most people would choose 2006 over 1967, given the choice. I know I would. Think of the advances in civil rights for blacks, gays, and women. Think of the advances in technology and healthcare. Think of the freedom that the average American has today to travel almost anywhere in the world, to live thousands of miles from where they were born -- in short, to choose their own destiny. And compare that to where we were 40 years ago. While you're looking backward through rose-tinted spectacles, I'm looking forward with hopefulness and excitement. And I'm happy and eager to share that future with lots of other people, if that's what they want too.

Posted by: Felix on January 14, 2006 2:00 PM

""Overpopulation" is a kind of pre-defined issue that comes equipped with all kinds of pre-defined '70s eco-overtones."

"Population-wise, how do you *want* your country to look 50 years hence? I think it's an important question. In my case, I'd prefer that it not be more crowded than it already is. Maybe someone else wants to see it jammed to the gills."

"Crowded" and "jammed to the gills" are loaded and pejorative terms which answer the question as it is being asked. Btw, I don't particularly agree or disagree with you -- this immigration question is not high on my priority list. I just prefer discussions which minimize emotive language and hysteria.

And of course now you have escalated and brought-in your comical denigration of these mystical "elites" and their separation from common folks like we. Aw shucks, Mike, can't you transcend cliche?

Posted by: Raw Data on January 14, 2006 2:13 PM

Raw, don't you know he hates it when you call him Mike. After all, he did name himself after the power-lunch restaurant on 55th Street where publishing-industry poo-bahs have expense-account lunches over $35 nicoise salads. No elitist he -- but it's true that the tables are widely spaced. No one ever accused Michael's of overcrowding.

Posted by: Felix on January 14, 2006 2:19 PM

Felix -- You keep 1) insisting that "crowded" can be defined in some hard-and-fast objective sense. It can't. It's a matter of opinion. I know people who think Arizona is too crowded, and others who think Manhattan isn't crowded enough. I don't mind it if your opinion is different than mine, but I find it comical when you stress that your opinion is somehow ... I dunno, more rational or something. And 2) You keep insisting that America would be better off if it looked more like Europe. Have you actually traveled much in America? Many people here like the fact that it's different than Europe. (And why shouldn't they, by the way?) Good luck trying to persuade them to become more like Germany. It's gonna be a hard sell.

Raw -- "Mystical elites"? What are you talking about?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 14, 2006 2:42 PM

The United States may have a much lower population density than most European countries, but there's also a higher percentage of land here that's not useful for much.

Posted by: Peter on January 14, 2006 2:52 PM

Raw -- Oh, sorry, you meant mythical elites. Really? You think the US doesn't have a bunch of elites? How do you justify that? Do you think it was just a bit of happenstance that Kerry and Bush were both Ivy Leaguers? (And Clinton and Gore and Bush 1...) And that the people who run the news-media orgs share amazingly similar backgrounds? I work in the media and once spent a few minutes sniffing around the Gore campaign. What struck me most was that the people in the Gore campaign were exactly the same kind of people, with exactly the same kind of background, as most of the people I run into in the media. I'm not sure what the point of pretending otherwise is.

Incidentally, I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. Societies will develop elites. I do think it's a bad thing when they're as out of touch with the general population and are as ruthlessly self-interested as they are these days, though. And no, I'm not escalating. The general point is one that runs throughout my postings on this blog. You'll feel free to disagree of course.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 14, 2006 2:55 PM

No, I did indeed mean "mystical," not "mythical."

Of course we have elites, I would by no means deny it and one of the reasons I read your blog is because you are indeed part of our intellectualelite, if nothing else. And the greatness of this country btw is that our elites. to a degree probably unequaled in the history of complex societies, are relatively permeable to new entrants. (Permeable "enough?" Probably not but we aren't doing too badly.)

But I used "mystical" because you invoke them as some sort of remote, higher-order to help buttress some completely separate argument such as "We have an immigration problem. The people know. The elites won't listen."

Oh, and I prefer my full first name of "Raw Data" -- the full name is acually "Raw Data Complex."

Posted by: Raw Data Complex on January 14, 2006 3:55 PM

If I may interject. While I'm generally sympathetic to immigration and population growth (I agree with Julian Simon that people and human creativity are "the ultimate resource"), I think that population growth is more an indicator than a primary issue. I mean, where do you want to live: in a country with high taxes, smothering regulations, few and limited sources of business capital, pro-stasis and envy-driven social attitudes, and lack of faith in the future; or in a country where opportunity is abundant, business formation is easy, taxes and regulation are moderate and people are optimistic and respect success? The USA is growing because the people who live here see it as a good place to raise children and the people everywhere else see it as a good place to go to work and live. I hope that our population continues to increase at a robust rate, because if it doesn't that will be a sign that our society has major problems.

Posted by: Jonathan on January 14, 2006 6:47 PM

" ... a country with high taxes, smothering regulations, few and limited sources of business capital, pro-stasis and envy-driven social attitudes, and lack of faith in the future ..."

Many people would describe the United States in exactly that way! Which may prove that the old saw about the grass being greener on the other side of the fence really has some grains of truth.

Posted by: Peter on January 14, 2006 7:29 PM

Raw Data -- Good name! I thank you for the chance to spell out some of the subtext of my contributions at this blog. Puzzled why you see the whole "elites" question as having nothing to do with the immigration and/or population questions, but what the hey ... Thanks for joining in, in any case.

Jonathan -- I'd had the impression that the more our population increased, the more our regulations and laws were increasing too. It'd make sense: the greater the population, the greater the chances for friction. (And the more numerous the opportunities for government types to take advantage of all that.) What makes you convinced that increasing population numbers are going to result in more (and not less) in the way of breezy optimism and open opportunities?

Small point to everyone, just because I can't resist: Our population has increased 50% since 1967; it's on schedule to increase another 100 million within the next 35-40 years. Whether or not this particular rate of population growth is a good or a bad thing is mostly a matter of opinion. Some perfectly-sane people think our population ought to shrink, some perfectly-sane people think it ought to grow even faster than it is. Fun to compare notes! But it's not inevitable -- laws and policies have created this situation, and they can be rewritten. And our prosperity does not depend on this kind of rate of population growth. Over roughly the same period that our population increased 50%, for instance, Switzerland's population increased about 17%, and they're nobody's idea of a non-prosperous country. Shoot me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that prosperity depended far more on tech innovation, dynamism, human capital, smart choices, luck, investment, a decent legal environment, etc, than on raw population numbers.

A question for fans of substantial population growth? What's your optimal population for the U.S.? You're comfy cheering on population growth up to what number? And why that number rather than another?

(As I've said, I thnk most of this boils down to personal -- and almost aesthetic -- preference ...)

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 14, 2006 7:54 PM

You keep insisting that America would be better off if it looked more like Europe

Uh, I did? Where? I swear I did no such thing. I was merely pointing out that

a) Europe is not overcrowded;
b) Europe has a population density a good six or seven times greater than America's; therefore
c) America is not overcrowded.

That's it. Does that mean that my reasons for America not being overcrowded are "rational"? Well, I guess so. Sorry. Meanwhile, you go around simply asserting that America is overcrowded, its incredibly low population density notwithstanding. You have no evidence with which to back up that claim, so you revert to a simple "well, that's what I think, and so there". I don't deny it's what you think. But I do assert that you're wrong. If a country with seven times the population density of the US isn't overcrowded, I think it's pretty fair to conclude that the US can't be overcrowded.

Then you add the astonishing kicker:

Some perfectly-sane people think our population ought to shrink.

Um, can you name one? Just one? A shrinking population, as I say, is pretty much a death knell for any society. Given the enormity of America's unfunded pension liabilities, there's simply no way that the population of the US could start shrinking without a substantial decrease in quality of life. Sorry, but this isn't a matter of opinion, it's a matter of fact.

And where are these "fans of substantial population growth" that you're talking about? Speaking for myself, I'm a fan of very, very modest population growth. You'll note that the US has been growing at more or less 2.5 million people per year for many generations -- which means that on a percentage basis, the rate of population growth has been slowing steadily. Do I think that the US should have population growth figures similar to those of say Pakistan? Of course not.

In any case, I revert to my inflation analogy. You ask what the optimal population for the US is; I give you instead an optimal rate of population growth. Positive, but not hugely so: maybe somewhere between 0.5% and 1.5%. Asking for the optimal population is like asking for the optimal price for a loaf of bread -- it implies that once bread reaches that price, the government should start imposing price controls to stop bread getting any more expensive. Which I'm sure is the kind of thing that you -- or any economist, for that matter -- would oppose. The rate of increase of population is far more important than the absolute population, and the rate of increase of population is going down, not up.

Posted by: Felix on January 14, 2006 9:52 PM

Peter and Michael:

Yeah, the USA is overtaxed and overregulated (and getting worse in some ways), but on balance it's still a better country to live and work in than are most others. It's wealthier than ever, and I think that Americans enjoy the highest quality of life that they have ever had. The grass really is greener here.

Michael, I think it's likely that increased population will be beneficial because I think that's been the case in the past. And for all the corruptions of our educational and immigration establishments we still somehow end up with a lot of achievement-oriented people. I have no idea if it will always be this way, but I don't see why increased population per se will cause problems. The main proviso is that we should insist that immigrants assimilate, but that's a matter of values -- which is where the optimism and, ultimately, opportunities come from. I don't see why maintaining our values is incompatible with increased population.

BTW, on a personal level I'm a wide-open-spaces kind of guy. But there seem to be so many examples of high-population-density places that succeed that I think that most concern about high population is misplaced.

Posted by: Jonathan on January 15, 2006 12:51 AM

"there's simply no way that the population of the US could start shrinking without a substantial decrease in quality of life."

Funny, if you go to Phoenix or LA (and probably others for all I know - but certainly those in my experience) you will find quite a large part of the population who say the over-population in these areas definitively decreases the quality of life. These crazy folk seem to think that having to choose between an hours-long commute and astronomical home prices does not reflect a positive quality of living.

The convoluted logic that sees Manhattan as an ideal population density is incredibly myopic. If for no other reason than because the areas experiencing the huge population growths... well... AREN'T Manhattan. Why is it that no one is holding up LA or Phoenix as models of population density?

"I revert to my inflation analogy"

Cuz, you know, our living space can increase indefinitely, just like the value of consumer goods.

It seems as though the pro-population growth folks on this thread have only economic interests in mind. That's well and good and certainly an important consideration, but it is certainly not the only element that effects the quality of life.
A couple of variables that people ought to take into account:
1) geography: The Southwest is not Europe, nor is it the rest of America. A given area of land can support only a finite group of people, and some areas less than others. Two words: Owens Valley.
2) development: As I hinted earlier, population growth these days doesn't make Manhattans, it makes Phoenixes. The far reaching environmental consequences of this kind of growth shouldn't require spelling out.

I confess, though, to being a little bit mystified by Michael's argument from personal 'preference' that needs no other rationalization. Surely, if people are offended by pop growth, they are offended for some reason besides numbers on a page. They are offended because they have to drive 2 hours to work if they want to own a home, or because of the recent groundwater polution, or because of all the intimidating and destructive development, or because of the loss of community. I'm not sure what a non-rational opposition to population growth looks like.

Posted by: Peter on January 15, 2006 1:59 AM

Interesting.... throughout this whole discussion, I haven't seen a single reference to the qualitative dimension of our population growth, though I may have missed it. Our population is growing mostly due to immigration and immigrants' births. This isn't a leftie, PC group, so I'm surprised that I haven't seen any discussion about the racial/cultural aspect of our population growth -- in my opinion, the biggest source of Americans' anxiety.

Posted by: Hugh on January 15, 2006 9:11 AM

I too have wondered the same thing as Hugh. How much of the opposition to immigration is opposition to poor, uneducated Latin Americans coming in?

Would the feelings change if illegal immigration were substantially curtailed BUT legal immigration were correspondingly increased for Russians, Chinese, Indians, and even Latinos with much higher education who all entered in the approved fashion? Would Americans be more willing to tolerate Mexicans if schooling policies were more assimilationist and English first were dominant everywhere in the community? Would they be more tolerant if we strictly enforced rules about deporting any immigrants who commit crimes and barring most immigrants (legal or illegal) from welfare and Medicare/Medicaid?

I ask without having any idea of what the national response would be.

Posted by: nn on January 17, 2006 12:19 PM

"But personal preferences, IMHO, should play a much larger role in the general debate than they do. Where immigration and population are concerned, people seem to spend all their time squabbling about principles, economic questions, and justice questions. They rarely raise the matter of their own personal preference. Why not?"

I think because personal preference is undefinable, therefore is can't really be argued or placed as a viable reason to base policy on. So, people of all political persuasions seek out "facts" that support their personal preferences, and trot them out as "proof" of their superiority over other preferences.

But you're right, it does come always come down to preference. Population growth in the past 30 years has ocurred primarily in the suburbs, which means sprawl which means dwindling farm land and long-ass commutes. Personally, I love dense the city. Dense suburbs suck all kinds of ass. They're ugly and inefficient. So I think you have to differentiate the various types of population growth.

With that in mind, where are the majority of immigrants, legal and otherwise, living? If it's urban areas, than I don't see a problem. If it's suburban, than that is another story. And now we have reached the end of my grasp of this issue.

Posted by: the patriarch on January 17, 2006 2:49 PM

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