Sunday, May 07, 2017

Ruchir Sharma: Let's Destroy The World So We Can Grow The Economy

"To Be Great Again, American Needs Immigrants"
[It goes without saying that we want (legal) immigrants. But the title on Sharma's piece is extremely misleading--par for the course in this kind of discussion. He's not arguing that we should have immigration--he's arguing for increasing immigration in order to increase the population in order increase economic growth. Saying "we need immigration" when you're actually going to argue that we should have increased immigration is a bit like the other routine rhetorical shenanigans by progressives in this disagreement: pretending that someone is anti-immigration when they're actually merely against illegal immigration.]
   This sort of thing ought to infuriate people, but it doesn't seem to. Though even those who would like to push back can't do it at the NYT--comments are disabled, so we don't know what the reaction is like to this particular story.
   How people can, with a straight face, make this argument is just beyond me. This is a blueprint for disaster--and obviously so. We cannot increase the population indefinitely. We're already beyond the reasonable, natural carrying-capacity of the U.S., and far beyond the point at which an interruption in the food supply would be a catastrophe. Avoiding future disaster already depends on developing certain kinds of new technology, and developing them on time. When you're running out of not only water, but dirt, you've got to stop and reassess. And, of course, many other parts of the world are much, much worse off than we are. And trying to get control of this problem before it gets out of hand is imperative. It's easier to avoid overpopulation than it is to come back from it.
   Sarma's paper combines the madness of both right and left on this issue. He argues, in effect, that we should overpopulate the country for economic reasons, but he also gestures at the left's favorite ad hominem in this context: that concerns about the link between immigration and population growth are inherently bigoted.
   The really amazing thing is that the objection is so damn obvious, and Sharma doesn't even bother to acknowledge it, much less respond to it. There's no suggestion that it's a short-term strategy nor any such thing. It's an unrestricted recommendation. The clear suggestion is that we want the economy to grow forever, and that we ought to do so by increasing the population forever.
   Jeez this sort of thing makes me nuts.


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