Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A reader's excellent point on pro-growth and pro-life

A reader wrote via e-mail with the following, to my mind excellent, comment apropos of the long threads at W4 about growth, property, "suburban sprawl," etc.

The fact is we went from having less than 200 million people in 1930 to having 300 million in 1990. More now. Where are we supposed to put all these people?

In addition...the total number of households is WAY above 1/3 more than in 1930. Where are we supposed to put all these houses?

The flip side of a pro-life mentality is a pro-growth development policy. Or (just to cover the logical options), a proportionate decrease in living standards.

I just thought that was excellently put. I have zero patience with the to my mind arrogant idea that everyone in the world has a moral obligation, which perhaps can even be pushed or enforced by the government, to live either in crowded cities or on "authentic" subsistence farms. Let the crunchies do that if it pleases them, but the suburbs have been a great boon to a great many people. People have to live somewhere. The idea of crunching (pun intended) them into the cities or spreading them out on preserved small-farm land without the in-between option of the suburbs is inhumane and manifests an inhuman green attitude. At some point, these semi-green conservatives are going to have to make a choice--either they can keep accepting hysterical environmentalist claims that the existence of the suburbs is destroying the oceans (yep), or they can start asking some pointed questions. Either they can maintain their sentimental hatred of Wal-Mart and "sprawl," or they can start thinking in terms of what is actually best for all the human beings who live in this country.

Meanwhile, I think we're very blessed to have options.


Jeff Culbreath said...

Hello Lydia! Thanks for articulating the pro-suburb side of my own internal battle on this topic. A couple of points:

1. God desires that there be many religious vocations, not few. There is no need to worry about overcrowding or too much growth if this mandate is followed.

2. My present take on the suburbs is that, yes, we need them, but they are not what they should be. I hope to write more on this later.

Lydia McGrew said...

Interesting idea about vocations, but of course, being a darned Protestant, I'm not all that into lifelong vows of celibacy anyway. But you'd need gigantic numbers of people vowing celibacy to avoid a lot of population growth. And in the meanwhile we'd have a graying population and a population downturn like they are having in China, and that would not be a pretty sight.

I'd be, of course, interested in what you mean about the suburbs' needing to be something different from what they are, and in your ideas for getting them to that place. But I'm glad you don't mind their existence per se. :-)

Jeff Culbreath said...

Lydia, you may be a "darned Protestant", but the world needs more of you. Besides, I follow the great Catholic tradition of damning all Protestants, on principle, except for the ones I like the best. :-)

I don't think you would argue with St. Paul who counseled celibacy for all who had the strength for it.

Since the present claims of overpopulation are bogus, my point is somewhat academic. But it is true that high population density can create certain problems, at least regionally, and in particular places where the problem is critical, religious vocations are all the more important.

Lydia McGrew said...

Not to be too flippant, but I think it would be a little difficult to target recruitment for vows of celibacy to places of high population density: "Hey, Catholics living in Baltimore, try to get your kids to become priests and nuns, because we've got _too many doggoned people in this town_."

Jeff Culbreath said...

LOL. Of course. The *motive* for vocations should have nothing to do with population concerns. It's a side benefit of fidelity.