Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 26, 2006 / 4 Mar-Cheshvan 5767

The population pessimists

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
Printer Friendly Version
Email this article


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | When the population of the United States hit 200 million in 1967, President Lyndon Johnson marked the occasion with a speech at the Commerce Department, home to the US Census Bureau and its official "population clock."


In 1776, LBJ said, the American people had numbered only 1.5 million, but as the nation grew in population, so too had it grown in stature and strength. "We have seen success in America beyond all of our wildest dreams," he went on, but "mighty challenges" remained: the challenges of urban life, of race relations, of industrial pollution, of inadequate public schools. "I cannot tell you this morning that we are going to be able to meet successfully all of these challenges."


It was not a particularly upbeat speech, but at least it was a speech. When the population clock surpassed 300 million last week, President Bush offered only a two-paragraph statement calling the big round number "a testament to our country's dynamism and a reminder that America's greatest asset is our people."


If presidents seem less than thrilled about the population milestones reached on their watch, perhaps it is because they have been unable to shake off the prophecies of doom about "overpopulation" that date back at least to Thomas Malthus's prediction that starvation and misery were the inevitable consequence of population growth. That was in 1798, and we have been hearing from "Malthusian" alarmists ever since. (Ironically, Malthus himself came to realize that his pessimism was groundless, and sharply revised his famous essay in 1803.)


Within months of President Johnson's speech, for example, Paul Ehrlich published The Population Bomb, which opened with the grim assertion that "the battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines — hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now."


But "the Great Die-Off," as Ehrlich called it, didn't arrive in the 1970s. Nor in the 1980s. Undaunted, Ehrlich wrote in 1990 that "starvation and epidemic disease will raise the death rates over most of the planet" and humanity would experience the "deaths of many hundreds of millions of people in famines." It still hasn't happened. In fact, on the whole human beings are better fed today (as well as better housed, better educated, and longer-lived) than ever before. Where starvation still occurs, it is usually the result of deliberate government policy, not agricultural failure. In many parts of the world, the fastest-growing nutritional problem is not hunger, but obesity. Yet the idea that more people means more pain and penury dies hard.


At 300 million, America's population is three times what it was in 1915. Over that span of time the quality of American life has soared. From health and wealth to technology and transportation, from leisure time and homeownership to life expectancy and productivity, from clean air and water to entertainment and travel, most Americans today enjoy conveniences and benefits that not even the Rockefellers and the Vanderbilts could have afforded a century ago. But to hear some experts tell it, we should be tearing our hair out in distress.


"The world does not need more people, and the US in my judgment does not need more people either," grouses Charles Westoff of Princeton's Office of Population Research. The Washington Post quotes Dowell Myers, a demography professor at the University of Southern California: "At 300 million, we are beginning to be crushed under the weight of our own quality-of-life degradation."


Crushed? We're not even mildly cramped. It might not seem that way to someone stuck in a rush-hour traffic jam, but America is actually one of the world's least congested nations, with a population density far lower than that of Britain or Germany. The land area of the United States is so vast that each American could have 7 acres to himself, and there would still be 200 million acres left over. We are in no danger of running out of space.


To be sure, the United States has its problems, some of them quite serious. But a burgeoning population isn't one of them. As Europe and Japan age and shrink, America continues to grow and stay comparatively youthful. That means not just more mouths to feed and more bodies to house. It also means more brainpower and more human energy — more problem-solvers, more entrepreneurs, more thinkers, more fighters, more leaders. The late Julian Simon famously called human beings "the ultimate resource," and the United States is blessed with more of it than any other First World nation.


"In other words, you ain't seen nothing yet," The Economist predicts. "Anyone who assumed the United States is now at the zenith of its economic or political power is making a big mistake." As good as things are, they are about to get even better. It's great to have you with us, No. 300,000,000. Welcome aboard!

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

Jeff Jacoby Archives

© 2006, Boston Globe

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles