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US: Depopulation of the heartland

From Moscow, Cameron Sawyer writes: "When countries become economically and technologically developed, population growth slows down and in some cases stops or declines. Hand in hand with development comes urbanization. The rural population shrinks drastically as agricultural methods become more efficient. The sons and daughters of farmers become accountants and computer programmers in the city. As countries develop and get richer, their cities (and especially suburbs) become more and more pleasant.

What is happening in the U.S. heartland is absolutely natural. As trends of slowing population growth and increased efficiency in agricultural production continue, most of the heartland might well be allowed to go back to wilderness. If it were not for agricultural subsidies paid by the acre (an idiotic practice), much of U.S. farmland would already be worthless even today (which is the market way of saying that this land should not be under cultivation). One or two hundred years from now, mankind will be living in splendid (and sprawling) cities surrounded by forests and wilderness.

What is irritating is that environmentalists will take credit for it, when the real cause is natural economic growth and development which is so much threatened by environmentalism , at least by those brands of environmentalism which are not sensitive to issues of economic efficiency. In any case, the most serious environmental menace is poverty".

My comment:This presents problems. Indian activists are boasting that they will "reconquer" the heartland, just as Mexicans boast that they will reconquer California, the Southwest and Texas. This would accelerate the creation of two population clusters in Anglo-America, one on the East Coast,the other in the West, which would be increasingly unwilling to be governed from the East. This would radically change the configuration of North America.

Urbanization in these concentrations of population would produce the problems of big cities, crime and alienation, of which Mexico City and Sao Paulo are examples. This is not the America dreamed of by the Founding Fathers. The ideal city is the size of Palo Alto. The larger cities of California--Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland--are a mess. San Jose has not succumbed because of the concentration of professionals, but beware.

Ronald Hilton - 2/25/02