'My father's long workweek earned him about $25-30 in 1938 when he and my mother married and perhaps $65-70 in the postwar era. On this he and my mother were able to buy into the American dream. They could afford the $58 monthly payments on a three-bedroom stucco bungalow house. Sundays we enjoyed drives to near-by San Gabriel Valley farms and orchards or a day at an uncrowded, unpolluted beach. My mother used to say, thanking God, 'Where else can working folk live like this?'
"…The low cost of living, the unparalleled beauty of the natural setting my father's generation enjoyed were benefits conferred by a sustainable population base. In 1940, the country had 132 million people; California, 7 million people. By 1950, the nation's 150 million and California's 10 million people were both butting up against ecological limits. Yet land for postwar housing tracts was cheap; one merely had to convert nearby farmland. Long Island and San Gabriel Valley farms alike vanished."
The speed at which postwar California has been paved over for dubious progress and substantial profit has been breathtaking. California is full and getting fuller, but They Keep Coming—everyone on earth, or so it appears. The Golden State is losing its luster to many—but not enough. As a result, the state's population is expected to pass 40 million in 2012 and exceed 50 million by 2032.
Unpleasant crowdiness is becoming normal as quality of life drops off the chart in the place that was once close to paradise on earth. It seems every day brings another report about worsening everything, and how much more it will cost.
Here in Alameda County, east of San Francisco, where I live in the People's Republic of Berkeley, the water barons just announced that mandatory rationing will be imposed immediately.
Robust January rains looked bright for bringing the state's snowpack and reservoirs up to snuff for the current population of 38 million. But late winter rains ended like drinks at 2am, so now we face short showers, brown lawns and drought anxiety disorder lasting for who knows how long.
I suspect that even seasonably normal rainfall will not provide enough water in the near future, and some form of rationing, e.g. very high charges above a certain level of use, will remain permanently.
If California were still a semi-manageable 23-24 million residents—as it was during the moderate late 1970s drought—these harsh measures would not be required, at least not this early. But Washington's immigration treason has painted us into a corner of few options and bad choices.
Down south where water concerns are more pressing, Los Angeles Mayor Tony Villaraigosa has been talking up water conservation.
The ambitious water plan carries political risks for the mayor, but also could burnish his record as an environmental leader in a bid for higher office. A number of key details remain to be worked out and vetted by the City Council, including the cost of various elements and how they would be financed. [L.A. prepares massive water-conservation plan, By Rich Connell, Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2008]
However, LA's exploding population will largely nullify water conservation efforts. The county added over 400,000 residents 2000-2006 and had the fourth-highest numerical increase in the nation during that period, according to the Census. The LA Department of Water and Power estimates a mere 15 percent increase in demand by 2030 due to population growth, which sounds unduly optimistic, even with giveaway programs of low-flow toilets and the like.
Exhortations in Spanish to conserve water won't help much with a demographic tsunami of this magnitude.
BART, the regional rail system that is carrying more passengers on a typical weekday than ever before, has been quietly removing seats from trains to make room for even more riders.
Soon we can rename the system Bay Area Standing Transit.
Back during the construction period, downtown San Francisco's Market Street was torn up for years with noise and dirt. The BART media folks assured the public that a glorious future transit lay ahead and would be worth all the mess and trouble.
To demonstrate its modernity, the first cars had no grabber bars on the ceiling for standing passengers, because there would be seats for everyone on the automated BART system! No one would ever have to stand, so bars would be unnecessary.
What were those engineers smoking? These days, riders accept sardine conditions as normal.
November's state ballot will have a bond measure for $10 billion as the down payment on a $40 billion plan to build a bullet train, running from San Francisco and Sacramento to Los Angeles and San Diego.
Supporters warn that without high-speed rail, California would need to build 3,000 new miles of highway lanes, 60 new airline gates and five more runways to meet the transportation needs created by the state population growing from 35 million to 48 million over the next 25 years. [Bullet train likely chugging to derailment, by Greg Lucas, San Francisco Chronicle, January 26, 2006]
A major argument against the bullet train: the prohibitive price tag. The state is up to its eyeballs in debt ($17 billion at last count), courtesy of Gov. Schwarzenegger who has borrowed up a storm. He sailed into office during the 2003 Recall election as the movie-star fiscal-reform candidate who would clean up Gray Davis' financial mess. It hasn't worked out that way.
We taxpayers have been assured by Governor Schwarzenegger that we will not be stuck with the entire cost of the bullet train because he supports a private-public partnership. A cynic would define that arrangement as where the citizenry pays the costs and business reaps the profits. The details of how the train would be financed remain sketchy at this point.
And any transportation system that makes travel easier and faster from southern California must be viewed skeptically by us in the higher latitudes. The idea of easing the migration of additional Mexicans by hurtling them northward at 220 mph is not a pleasant thought.
As in the case of the bullet train, population growth is regularly cited by political elites when they want more money from the taxpayer. The appeal is geared to common sense: there are millions more people, so the government has to build additional infrastructure to cope:
But when possible water restrictions were reported in the press in April, a spokesman from the local water agency announced the resource shortage had nothing to do with increased numbers of users. Water managers apparently don't want citizens connecting excessive legal and illegal immigration with having to cut back on normal water usage, which is onerous and makes people angry.
"[EBMUD spokesman Charles] Hardy discounts population growth as a factor in the water shortage: He said the district uses the same amount of water—about 230 million gallons a year—as it did nearly four decades ago when the population was two-thirds what it is today." [East Bay water managers plan for drought, by Kelly Zito, San Francisco Chronicle, April 24, 2008]
Which presumably means the agency is using water more economically—but that its efforts are being obviated by population growth.
You might think that environmentalists would have some interest in opposing population growth—in preserving California's unique natural heritage, that is. But the managers of groups like the Sierra Club studiously avoid the immigration cause of America's domestic overpopulation crisis, because naming it upsets their open-borders political allies.
The California salmon are gone with nary a peep from the Sierra Club about the overpopulation factor that sways government water management. The hoards of illegal aliens traipsing across the border leave millions of pounds of trash that endangers wildlife and is generally disgusting. The problem would be a natural for real conservationists to tackle.
Instead, environmentalists like the Sierrans have joined with other far-left groups to oppose a border fence using the courts. Keeping its Raza pals happy is apparently job #1 for the Sierra Club, e.g. when it fought the REAL ID law last fall. (And environmentalists wonder why the public doesn't trust them about global warming.)
Sadly, Crowdifornia has few organizations working to save what's left of its inspiring beauty and livability. Only immigration realists like VDARE.COM have the integrity to even discuss the real issues.
Brenda Walker (email her) lives in Northern California and publishes two websites, LimitsToGrowth.org and ImmigrationsHumanCost.org. She wouldn't mind a high-speed train for California if it only ran from north to south.