Dear David Frum: U.S. Population Growth Is Not A Problem, It’s A Solution By Lyman Stone for The Federalist
There are people planning for the 400 millionth American. There are people planning for, dreaming for, the billionth American. I am one of them.
In the April print edition of The Atlantic, David Frum has an article about immigration. His basic take is simple: because progressives have gone crazy and stopped exercising responsible management of immigration, fascists (his word, not mine) have taken over.
The solution, Frum suggests, is to cut immigration by even more than the Trump administration suggests. We can reasonably debate the correct amount of immigration. Americans are about evenly divided between people who want more, less, or about current levels of immigration, so I won’t try to solve that debate here. It’s far from clear how Frum thinks his argument will at all convince The Atlantic’s more progressive readership.
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But Frum made one comment that simply cannot stand. He says:
Under present immigration policies, the U.S. population will exceed 400 million by 2050. Nobody is seriously planning for such population growth—building the schools and hospitals these people will need, planning for the traffic they will generate. Nobody is thinking very hard about the environmental consequences, either. The average American causes the emission of almost 17 tons of carbon dioxide each year, quadruple the annual emissions of the average Mexican and 45 times the emissions of the average Bangladeshi.
There are people planning for the 400 millionth American. There are people planning for, dreaming for, the billionth American. I am one of them. And the fact that David Frum has hysterics over 400 million people being in America 30 years from now reveals him as a declinist with no real vision for the country and little to offer its policymakers in terms of a way forward.
Frum Is Wrong On The Merits
First of all, Frum is just wrong that “nobody is seriously planning.” The entire reason he can cite that 400 million number is because the Census Bureau produces forecasts to support planning for the future! The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) produces long-run budget forecasts. Social Security trustees produce annual revisions to the trust fund’s outlook.