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NYTimes Open-borders columnist: The nation’s most populated state isn’t living sustainably

author Published by Jeremy Beck

In his August 26 article, “California, We Can’t Go On Like This,” The New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo said that “the nation’s most populous state” was also failing to live sustainably. Readers were quick to point out that Manjoo failed to make the connection between the two.

Manjoo, who has written in favor of an immigration policy that admits “everyone who wants to move here,” says the problem with California is the people or, rather, the people’s resistance “to give up a little bit of their own convenience for the collective good.”

This is a hobbyhorse of mine, but I’m committed to riding it until people in my home state begin to change their ways. Californian suburbia, the ideal of much of American suburbia, was built and sold on the promise of endless excess — everyone gets a car, a job, a single-family home and enough water and gasoline and electricity to light up the party.

But it is long past obvious that infinitude was a false promise.

Almost all of the comments from New York Times readers agreed that Californians (and Americans in general) could and should limit individual consumption, but at the time of this writing, a plurality of comments challenged the idea that we could or should convince Americans to give up what Manjoo calls “endless excess” just to prop up endless population growth.
[link url=”” title=”
D Flinchum” target=”_blank”]
D Flinchum:

In the 1990’s I was reading how the US was growing at an alarming rate. An old-line environmentalist, I initially couldn’t figure out how a country that had reached zero population growth in 1970 could still be growing like the 3rd world. It didn’t take me long to discover that the answer was massive immigration.Further research told me a few other surprising things about immigration. While I had been living in a 1-BR apartment, taking public transportation, recycling, and keeping my humble abode 75+ degrees in sweltering summer & 65 or lower in damp winter to lower my per capita energy use, my government had been wiping out my good environmental works by dramatically raising the capita via immigration. I found this infuriating. Why am I sacrificing to make the rich richer still by allowing the importation of cheap foreign labor which the community ends up paying for financially and environmentally while the rich prosper from it?Why preach to concerned individuals about using fewer resources while raising the overall environmental impact by dramatically increasing population by immigration? To make matters more dire, we can’t repeal people. Once they are in the US legally, they are here – along with their families and descendants – forever.On the other hand, if we truly find that we need more workers, it is unlikely that we couldn’t raise the numbers allowed in at a later date. Now we appear to be stock-piling unemployment as progress makes more workers redundant.

John also sees a Ponzi scheme at work:

And herein lies an honest question I have about Democrats and the largest state they control: Why do Democrats support increased immigration (whether legal or not) when, as Mr. Manjoo points out, housing is outrageously expensive? Immigrants, like most Americans these days, gravitate towards large cities for jobs (i.e. Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, etc.). This of course contributes to the aforementioned housing crunch and demand for energy which this article aptly describes. However, instead of pointing out that maybe we should focus on stabilizing our population, if not decreasing it, over time, we insist on bringing more people into the country from abroad which, if we’re being intellectually honest, only exacerbates these problems. Sure, some immigrants do work Americans don’t want to do, but that’s only because we aren’t pushing for higher wages in industries like agriculture such that American citizens may actually want those jobs again. But no – instead, we tell Americans they should let go of their dream of having a single family home in the suburbs to accommodate the influx of people into our largest metropolitan areas. I think we have our priorities backwards. Let’s take care of Americans first. Let’s pay Americans a living wage – subsidizing wages, if necessary, in critical industries with labor shortages. And yes, let’s lower the population burden on our major cities. Fewer people. Lower rents. Lower utility bills. Better lives.

MJ says Manjoo’s “excesses” were all obtainable (and sustainable) when there were fewer people:

The fundamental problem is that governments in California never recognized that unlimited population growth would do the state in.

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[b]Chris[/b]” target=”_self”]

California’s main problem is they have far too many people using too few natural resources. 20+ million people living, driving, and playing in the Southern California desert was never going to work. And now it’s time to pay the piper. My bet is that many Californians will do like Joe Rogan and leave.

AT says “you cannot ignore half the equation”:

Westerners like us, use far to much {sic}, that is true, but if the US had Canada’s population there wouldn’t be a problem almost no matter how we live…Number of people x lifestyle = effect. You cannot ignore half the equation, no matter how inconvenient.

Future Canadian offers another inconvenient fact:

The current U.S. population is 328 million people; according to Global Footprint, a sustainable population for the U.S. is just 150 million.We could achieve that number (peacefully) over a few generations if we curtailed unrestricted immigration, which is the main cause of population increase today.

Citizen agrees:

Manjoo summarizes California’s problems as “Traffic, sprawl, homelessness and ballooning housing costs” and suggests they “are all consequences of our profligacy with the land and our other resources.” This simply borders on gaslighting. At core, every one of these problems is rooted in overpopulation. While excessively lavish lifestyles don’t help, the immigration-driven doubling of the state’s population, from 20 to 40 million since 1970, has been the primary cause. If Californians cannot live like they wish to, this is the reason.

Foster Furcolo suggests a culprit most people can probably agree on: the politician!

Of course, Congress, including California’s national legislators have to share in the blame, for mandating far too much legal immigration (well over a million annually), and failure to pass a national, mandatory E-Verify.

Jane says we need a national debate about numbers and limits:

The incalculable damage being done to California, and to the rest of the world, is that there are too many people. We have polluted the world, changed the climate, and driven other species to extinction. Our human population on the planet will ultimately destroy much of the rest of life on it, including ourselves.I think we should collectively decide, as a nation, what our population should be. Pick a number, and then craft sane policies around immigration levels that help maintain that number. When our population drops, invite more immigrants. When our population surges, stop immigration.

Philip Cafaro says the environmental community should stop denouncing the “Janes” and “Fosters” of the world:

How can environmentalists demand significant changes and in some cases significant sacrifices from their fellow citizens, while pretending that our overall numbers don’t matter —or that their fellow citizens are racists for bringing it up?

These are all anecdotal viewpoints, but it sure seems like a lot of Americans could handle a national conversation about immigration-driven population growth.

JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Sustainability Initiative for NumbersUSA

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