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Earth to Werbach

Monday, October 03, 2005
So I'm reading through my latest issue of the American Prospect, and there's this article by Adam Werbach on the "population movement." Werbach is the former President of the Sierra Club, so he certainly has credentials. He argues that a narrow focus on population control is mistaken both on political grounds (it puts you into bed with some unsavory characters) and policy - the focus should be on women's rights and sustainable development rather than just birth control. There is some truth to this position - when you educate women their fertility rate drops like magic.

But where I go from nodding my head to shaking it is when Werbach suggests that the Sierra Club reject anti-immigration arguments entirely. Werbach suggests that illegal immigration from Mexico is the product of basic economic forces (okay), is therefore inevitable (maybe), and that we should direct illegal immigration to the Great Plains, which has lost a third of its population over the last century (WHAT?!).

Let me get this straight: you want to forcibly send poor immigrants to a part of the country where there are NO JOBS? You want to purposefully replicate what accidentally happened to African-Americans in the 1950's and 1960's? When they moved to the cities at the very moment those cities' manufacturing jobs were disappearing? The last time I checked this was the #1 cause of the problem of the urban poor. There are a lot of reasons why the Great Plains has lost population, but the most powerful ones are that our economic system is discriminating against small towns and that agriculture is now run by big, mechanized industrial combines that need less labor. I just don't understand how sending low-skill immigrants to that part of the country will result in anything else but disaster.

Aside from the dunderheadedness of Werbach's proposal on policy grounds, his lack of political sense demonstrates why the environmental movement has been on the defensive for so long. Can you imagine the political reaction in the communities of the Great Plains if 10 million immigrants suddenly showed up? Are we trying to create a (another) massive white backlash?

Talk about your political tin ears - apparently Werbach has concluded that the left doesn't have enough problems and that we need to create new ones. Sheesh.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 10:31 AM
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