Traffic jam: California's going nowhere on immigration control

Published on June 9th, 2015

Paul Mulshine
June 9, 2015
As seen in:
Star Ledger

Last month I heard from some friends that I had been quoted in the Los Angeles Times. The article was on the effect of mass immigration on the ongoing water shortage in California

I was curious. Why in the heck would a California newspaper be quoting a Jersey guy on a West Coast issue?

Last week I flew to the San Francisco Bay Area for my nephew's wedding and found out the answer: Because everyone in California is too p.c. to talk about these things.

That's not my opinion. It comes from another guy who grew up on the Jersey Shore.

Dick Schneider moved west in the late 1960s to study biology at the University of California. He now lives in the Oakland hills and is a member of what is perhaps the most politically incorrect organization in the state, Californians for Population Stabilization, or CAPS.

Though the members of CAPS are self-proclaimed tree-huggers, they are despised by the mainstream environmentalists because they keep reminding them that population control used to be the core value of the movement.

To that end, Schneider directed me to a 1966 quote from David Brower, then the executive director of the Sierra Club: "We feel you don't have a conservation policy unless you have a population policy."

The Sierra Club has since abandoned that goal. Dissident members, many of them scientists, formed CAPS to call attention to the need to curb immigration, which worsens every environmental problem from water shortages to loss of open space, Schneider said.

"Those of us in CAPS understand that none of those problems can be solved with the growth of people," he said. "Every increment of new people cancels out the efficiency improvements the people living here are asked to make."

That's certainly true of the drought now turning the Golden State brown. If California doesn't have enough water for its current population, how will it accommodate millions more residents?

And it's also true when it comes to another issue currently in the news in California, the issuance of driver's license to undocumented aliens. Half a million signed up immediately and another million are expected to do so in the next few years.

That will exacerbate a problem that plagues everyone across the political spectrum: traffic. Back in the 1960s, when I also attended the University of California, the state was mostly rural with a few pockets of civilization. I rarely encountered a traffic jam except at the height of rush hour.

But these days, Schneider said, "Rush hours are not rush hours. They're rush three and four hours."

"Rush hours are not rush hours. They're rush three and four hours." – Dick Schneider


The reason is not hard to find. The number of annual vehicle-miles traveled by Californians has tripled since Schneider and I were in college. The freeway system hasn't kept pace.

The mainline enviros will talk about solving the problem with things like increased mass transit and bicycle lanes, Schneider said. But those improvements are insignificant in the face of mass population growth.

"They think it's better to try to make everyone angels living on head of a pin rather than reduce the number of people," said Schneider.

Schneider recalled that when Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich released the book "The Population Bomb" in 1968, the enviros all agreed that California had quite enough people. But that changed when the big wave of immigration began in the 1980s.

"When driving force changed from the fertility of Americans to immigration, people were accused of being bigoted or racist or xenophobic for mentioning population growth," he said. "That argument cowed people who would otherwise talk about it.

That's certainly the case with the liberals. Meanwhile on the conservative side of the debate, there's a lot of pro-immigration pressure from business interests seeking cheap labor. It's a one-two punch that knocks out the public interest every time.

I suspect most Californians, and most Americans for that matter, would be perfectly content to see a moratorium on mass immigration, both legal and illegal. But that's not an option they'll be seeing on the ballot.

Inside the Beltway there's a bipartisan consensus that we need millions more people to work cheaply for Republicans while voting for Democrats. But
there's no consensus on building the infrastructure needed to serve all of those people. If you doubt that, look at the Beltway itself. When I-495 was first built, it could easily handle the traffic. Now it's as bad as an L.A. freeway.

There's an old saying to the effect that wherever the country's going, California gets there first.

In that case, we're headed into traffic.

ADD: Here's another wrinkle that show how confused the enviros can be. It turns out President Obama's science adviser is a disciple of Paul Ehrlich, the Maplewood native who first raised the alarm about population growth. Yet Obama is a big advocate of increased immigration.

Many of Ehrlich's predictions were overly pessimistic, but he did have the insight that adding population for its own sake would make the world less livable.

It certainly has done so in California.

AND HERE is an article that just came out on how scientists are much more likely than the general public to have a negative view of excessive population growth:

Asked whether or not the growing world population will be a major problem, 59% of Americans agreed it will strain the planet's natural resources, while 82% of U.S.-based members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science said the same. Just 17% of AAAS scientists and 38% of Americans said population growth won't be a problem because we will find a way to stretch natural resources.

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