Political Pundits Punt Population

Published on June 9th, 2008

By Edward C. Hartman

As presidential candidates “dwindle down to a precious few,” political pundits will desperately try to think of things to say that they haven’t already said one hundred times during this long-winded, long-winding, long-grinding, primary season. Let me suggest a neglected topic—Population!

Now, there’s a word you haven’t heard from the lips of any of the presidential candidates. “Population.” Nor are you likely to hear it from the lips of any congressional contenders between now and November. That’s because politicians and political pundits are fearful of using the “P” word. Yet virtually every domestic problem our nation’s leaders face will be more difficult—and more costly—to solve as long as our domestic population continues its perpetual and accelerating growth.

Pick your “favorite” domestic problem. How about the rising cost of energy—gasoline and fuel for heating and cooling. Supply seems limited, but demand—caused by a growing population of energy users—keeps growing. Hmm? Limited supply plus growing demand; sounds like a formula for rising prices, doesn’t it? Let’s see . . . how might we address this problem? Increase supply by building more windmills? By harnessing ocean tides? By attaching dynamos to our arms so we can generate electricity when we brush our teeth? Here’s a crazy idea: Instead of spending so much time and money on increasing supply, how about stabilizing demand? How about stabilizing the population of energy users. How about not adding another 3.4 million energy users every year?

If our streets and highways are too crowded now, let’s not add vehicles to support another 3.4 million people every year. If our schools, hospitals, and recreation areas are too crowded now, let’s not add another 3.4 million people per year with their accompanying population of pupils, patients, and patrons.

Yet, how many political interviewers have you heard ask candidates for their positions on population? How many political analysts have you heard discuss how candidates’ positions might affect population growth? Possibly none? No surprise there. Interviewers and analysts work for media conglomerates which thrive on population growth.

Too many vehicles on our highways? Too many pupils in our schools? Too many patients in our hospitals? Too many patrons in our parks? Too many water users? Too many energy users? No matter. Media conglomerates can never have too many readers, too many listeners, or too many viewers. “Too many” . . . not in their vocabulary. Media executives don’t like to hear people on their payrolls—the interviewers and the analysts–talking about “too many!” Not if they want to remain on those payrolls.

So, if the political pundits are afraid to use the “P” word, how can you know which presidential and congressional candidates will help end America’s mindless march to a population of one billion? You need to ask. That’s right, YOU! You need to ask. Drop a quick note to candidates—any candidates. Tell them, “If America’s population grows through the 21st century at the rate it grew through the 20th century, children born today will live to see an America with a population approaching one billion.” Ask them, “What will you do to help prevent an America with one billion residents? What will you do to help stabilize America’s population?”

You can write that on a postcard, on a note card, in a letter, or in an email. You can read it during a phone call. Whatever answers you receive, you can send to your local newspaper editor; share with others what candidates say when you mention the unmentionable “P” word. Parents will want to know what kind of population legacy they will leave their descendants. A stabilized population with stabilized energy and water demands, with stabilized education, medical, and recreational requirements or an unsustainably growing population. Share with others what candidates tell you. Especially share with others what candidates refuse to tell you. Others will want to know which candidates are complicit in mainstream media’s refusal to discuss America’s mindless march toward a population of one billion.

Don’t let the political pundits . . . don’t let the political candidates . . . punt “population.”

Edward C. Hartman is the author of “The Population Fix: Breaking America’s Addiction To Population Growth” and an Advisory Board member of Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS). He can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]

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