April 26, 2010

Joel Kotkin's "The Next Hundred Million"

Here's the beginning of my new 1800 word book review in The American Conservative:
The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050
Joel Kotkin, Penguin Press,320 pages 
News From the Future
By Steve Sailer

JOEL KOTKIN’S new book on population growth in America, The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, is that rare work of futurism whose title downplays the changes in store for us. The current Census Bureau projection is not that the U.S. will grow by merely 100 million residents from 2010 to 2050, but by 129 million, from 310 million today to 439 million in 40 years.

Although he’s reluctant to be precise about what’s looming, Kotkin, a veteran commentator on social geography and a fellow at Chapman University in Orange County, assures us that the population bubble is, on the whole, very good news. “[B]ecause of America’s unique demographic trajectory among advanced countries, it should emerge by midcentury as the most affluent, culturally rich, and successful nation in human history,” he writes. “No other advanced, populous country will enjoy such ethnic diversity.”
Perhaps. Yet the U.S. already was the most successful nation in human history. In 1969, for example, a mere 203 million Americans, even without the enjoyments of much diversity, got the human race to the moon. Presumably, the 439 million highly diverse residents of the U.S. in 2050 will have reached, at minimum, Alpha Centauri.

But I’m finding it hard to share Kotkin’s enthusiasm for what he calls America’s “vibrant demography” because I’m tapping this book review out at the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Van Nuys, California. My son is waiting in a 500-foot-long line to get to the first window so he can wait to get to another window, which will probably shut down for the evening before he finishes. California’s government is broke, so the DMV is closed several Fridays per month and is ostentatiously understaffed the rest of the time. 

Van Nuys is in the center of Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley, where I grew up and where Kotkin has lived for decades. Long ago, the Valley was celebrated for making the California dream affordable to the average American, but we’ve since been test-driving America’s future. When watching all the vibrant demography at the Van Nuys DMV waiting to take their driving tests, the next 40 years appear less edifying than they do in Kotkin’s prose....
Although Kotkin is enthusiastic about the quantity of these upcoming residents, he’s reticent about their average quality.

Read the rest in the magazine, on paper or here.


cruft said...

Mat12:25 "every kingdom divided against itself is brought into desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand."

Cicero said...

439 million people... and how many will be working and contributing to society? How many would fight to defend this country if we had to defend ourselves? How many are going to be lounging around in slums eking out a marginal existance?

You know Indonesia, Congo, Bangladesh, and Nigeria have a lot of people, and are gaining more all the time, but I fail to see where they are poised to become Great Powers on the model of the U.S.

What about Guatemala? Their population has increased about 15 times over in the last century. Are they doing all that great? Surely all those additional warm bodies must have turned them into a economic powerhouse by now. Oh, they manged to end their civil war and go back to being marginally functional? Nice, makes me feel really good about America's future.

Melykin said...

I haven't read the whole article about the book. I;m hoping to find a free copy--sorry :/
This post is off topic but is something I want to share.

A Canadian politician has actually spoken out AGAINST POLITICAL CORRECTNESS, with regards to multiculturalism. Sorry about the all caps, but this is simply astonishing. Even more astonishing is that it is written up sympathetically in the Globe and Mail.

The reason this strange event has come to pass is that the politician is not white. He is a Sikh from India. He has lived in Canada for many years and is intelligent and well spoken. He has dared to speak out against Sikh extremism in Canada, and he is garnering MUCH sympathy from white Canadians of all political stripes. He has recently had death threats from some fellow Sikhs and in 1985 was badly beaten by Sikhs IN CANADA. Remember also that the Air India bombing more than 20 years ago was carried out by Canadian Sikhs, and no one was ever brought to justice since all the witnesses were killed or threatened. Canadian law is just not capable of dealing with this sort of thing, apparently.

Yet no politician would ever dare speak out against the Sikhs because there are a lot of them and they vote, and any politician or journalist who spoke a word against them would be branded a racist.

So parts of Canada are slowly transformed into a colder version of the worst parts of India, complete with violence and gangs. Meanwhile we stand by feebly and watch.

But now Ujjal Dosanjh, despite death threats, has dared to say that the emperor has no clothes.

Here is a quote from the article:

"...Mr. Dosanjh blamed what he described as Canada’s polite brand of multiculturalism for giving extremists the space to nurture old grudges brought from their homelands. At the same time, Canada has failed to instill its own values on new immigrants.

“I think what we are doing to this country is that this idea of multiculturalism has been completely distorted, turned on its head to essentially claim that anything anyone believes – no matter how ridiculous and outrageous it might be – is okay and acceptable in the name of diversity.

“Where we have gone wrong in this pursuit of multiculturalism is that there is no adherence to core values, the core Canadian values, which [are]: That you don’t threaten people who differ with you; you don’t go attack them personally; you don’t terrorize the populace.

Mr. Dosanjh urged mainstream Canadians who aren’t part of these ethnic communities to step up and speak against extremism.

“I think Canadians need to engage in this cultural diversity debate,” he said. “And we actually have to say to each other: ‘Hey what you’re doing is wrong. What you’re doing here is right.’ We should stop being politically correct and have a debate.”


Barry Soetoro Knows said...

Steve is very busy and hasn't posted on the immigration law brouhaha in Arizona. But the media coverage on that issue tells you all you need to know about the media.

We, the public, are now being pounded with overt Pravda style agitprop where any attempt to maintain the historic culture of the United States - by controlling a flow of law abiding immigrants in the interests of the natives - is attacked in the classic Bolshevik style.

But the final insult is that the leftists won't even take their own medicine. They evacuate the areas of the country that get flooded with immigrants. And they sure as hell get their kids out of classrooms filled with immigrants.

King Obama released his first 2010 campaign video today and it's a direct appeal to everyone except ...white men.

There it is. Classic Warfare updated with a modern veneer. "You die, but we'll take some of your finer women" is now "We will dispossess you at the ballot box but your women can join us if they know what's good for them" ...

Anonymous said...

Guatemala's got religion though, and the street food, well, you'll...evolve.

Barry Soetoro Knows said...

Check out this Politico article with comments on the Obama video campaign outreach to all Americans except white guys.

Even a liberal web site is getting hit with relentless negative comments on this video.

Masterful job. Way to go, King Obama! You're such a political genius. Mugabe tactics will work here in the USA, for sure.

"Bring social justice home to those white farmers!"

"Get in their faces!"

Svigor said...

“No other advanced, populous country will enjoy such ethnic diversity.”

Psycho, totally psycho. Imagine a nation populated entirely with whites. What could POSSIBLY constitute a sane motivation for them to seek out ethnic diversity? Why would they go looking for ethnic strife, "affirmative action," hate crime laws, ethnic monitoring, etc., etc., etc., ad infinitum.

They'd have to be totally nuts.

Anonymous said...

this is one aspect of liberal/globalism - and libertarians for that matter- that just flabbergasts me - their willful ignorance is astonishing.

If there is one thing that has made america liveable - it is our large open spaces low population to land ratio that meant low home prices.

Also, inevitably a more densely populated a society + more diversity = less freedom.

Do you notice how anything that does not advance the globalist/multiculti agenda goes out the window - feminism is great when it's destroying white societies, but not good when it means we have to let in less muslims, the envrinoment is a great cause when whites are encouraged to have less children, but not when we're flooding the west with immigrants.

John Seiler said...

Population would have grown no matter what because the living is so good in California, and to a lesser extent much of the rest of America. The question was: Who would live here? In the mid-1960s, America's elites -- political, economic, and even religious -- decided to sharply reduce American birth rates because of expected mass famines from the "Population Bomb," as Paul Ehrlich's 1968 book called it, predicting global starvation in the 1970s. The culmination of the anti-natal policy was Roe v. Wade in 1973, after which there have been 50 million abortions so far.

At the same time, the elites imposed the 1965 immigration law that said to foreigners, "Come on in!" The result was predictable.

As I've written before on this blog, if you abort your children, don't be surprised if foreigners take their places.

TGGP said...

Doing a search at AmConMag I see this review is officially part of the June[?] issue while his last two were from May of 2009. I roughly estimate then (in advance of reading) that it should be 24 times the quality of the preceding.

Anonymous said...

The bulk of the demographic change since 1965 is illegal aliens, not legal immigrants

Legal post 1965 immigration is less than 10%

The Hispanics are almost entirely illegal and they have gone up 20%

CNN correspondent said...

Population would have grown no matter what because the living is so good in California

Yes and who made the living so good? The geographic location on planet earth known today as California existed on this planet for umpteen thousands of years but it never was a bitch magnet until the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Somebody made the living good.

BACK IN THE OLD DAYS NO ONE GAVE A DAMN ABOUT CALIFORNIA. It was a wasteland. And I'm talking about the supposed indigenous people of North America. Hardly anyone lived there. They weren't all clamoring to immigrate to California back in the old days i.e. back before a certain mysterious change occurred and suddenly the "living became so good".

No there weren't vicious headhunter tribes indigenous to California that scared everyone away. Potential immigrants to California in the old days were definitely not kept out by giant walls and moats. No. Sorry.


Anonymous said...

Arguing with liberal/leftists online, many of them believe that America's current economic, military, cultural etc strength is a direct product of mutliracial society.

Its a near hopless task confronting people like that, they dont know anything about pre '65 demographics - they dont know much about anything. But they do know US strength comes from diversity.

Its enough to make you weep.

Anonymous said...

Slam dunk by Steve and precisely why I read this blog. So much truth, yet so rarely reported anywhere except here. Diversity sucks. Multiculturalism is suicide. Oh and maybe Joel Kotkin needs to see Idiocracy. (They only went after "white trash" culture in that movie so he might be cool with it.)

Anonymous said...

the environment is a great cause when whites are encouraged to have less children, but not when we're flooding the west with immigrants.

In Britain we have the 'green belt' around large cities. Development is controlled, lots of land is not available for new buildings, you get the general idea.

It used to be evil rapacious conservatives who wanted to dig it up and build. The liberal/left were pretty well united in wanting to protect it.

Nowadays one hears leftists saying, "well, we only need to use 10% of the green belt to build housing, then people will stop complaining about immigrants creating a housing shortage."

The trick for any amoral capitalist is find a way to marry their objectives to immigration/ethnic minorities in some way. Then their supposed political opponents will be desparate to aid them.

Some might say this has already happened.

After all you very rarely hear any global business demanding that immigration control be relaxed so they can get some extra serfs. They dont have to. The left (who hate them naturally) will do it for them. Mr Fatcat can lean back in his chair and light up a big cigar while outside marxists demand he be given even more serfs than he actually wanted.

rightsaidfred said...

I, for one, subscribed to read the article. Well worth it. Your line about Corbu, Stalin and Hitler was one of the funniest I've ever read.

I'm astonished at the political favoritism shown the illegal aliens. The incredibly peaceful Tea Parties get tagged as violent wannabes by the Left, while illegal aliens are loved dearly despite their drug running, auto accident staging rings, and their 3x or so higher murder rate. We are eliding into a post apocalyptic world.

Anonymous said...

Isn't America great? This is a country where a supposed right winger like Ariana Huffington can...

1. move here
2. marry gay multi millionaire
3. divorce him
4. get huge payday
5. start left wing propaganda rag on the internet?

Doesn't that all make sense to you?

It makes sense in the same way Rahm Emanuel made 16 million dollars in salary during a short stay at an investment firm in Chicago?

And isn't that sort of like Hilary Clinton's superstar cattle futures trading career back in the day?

And is that sort of related to how a young unknown named Barry Soetoro blew off the book publisher deadline for his first auto biography?

Is the lesson to be learned here that money is apparently growing on trees in this country?

Isn't America great?

jody said...

in standard fashion, the television and newspaper media (except for perhaps FOX), are not covering the violent reaction by mestizos in arizona. border jumping mexicans are actually assaulting the police in some of these demonstrations.

these same media outlets spend plenty of time portraying the peaceful tea party gatherings as demonstrations of what kind of hatred euro americans secretly harbor. indeed, according to noam chomsky, a modern tea party is nothing but a precursor to a new nazi political party.

in other news, the media is strongly downplaying the violent crime situation in chicago, the city which president barack obama supposedly "organized". aside from the standard random shootings, some black guy beat two white women into the ground with an aluminum baseball bat last week. national news story for days if the races had been reversed. illinois politicians have called for the national guard.

Anonymous said...

If these demographic projections come to pass then the unproductive will overwhelm the productive.

The US will become a hellhole.

It is time for the productive to move on.

Curvaceous Carbon-based Life Form said...


This is an excellent point. I used to live in (the former) America's Finest City, San Diego, in the '80s.

But (former) Paradise could get terrible fires, sometimes, though, because the native chaparral would dry out by the Santa Ana winds. Drought was a fact of life.

Just across the river was Tijuana. Same topography. Same climate. Same native flora. Same beautiful beaches and palm trees. Same drought.

North of the river was Paradise. South of the river was a slum-city where the population's kiddies, instead of going to school picked broken glass out of the dump for recycling money.

Test question: Why the economic difference in the '80s? Why is SD no longer America's Finest city?

Extra credit:
Why did CCbLF flee to drought-stricken WY, of all places?

Whiskey said...

White people, particularly men, are continually shown on TV to be stupid and useless and boring. "White" is basically an insult. What is driving that?

After all, Blacks who make up about 90% (I'm not kidding, watch them) of commercials are only 12.5% of the population, and for big-ticket luxury items, only 5% are middle class.

There is one commercial (narrated by Tom Selleck) for "Go RVing" with a Black nuclear family. How many Black middle class folks do the RV people expect to be purchasing RVs? Since Blacks are not known for RVing, camping, and other out-door stuff?

Answer: none. Its all aimed at women. Reassuring them that A. Black people like this too, so it's not "White" and B. White guys are dorky losers.

Much of today's advertising is created by Women and gays. Both of which despise the ordinary Straight White Guy. Hence this attitude which gave us Obama.

Yes he gave White guys the extended metaphorical middle finger. Most White women would agree with that. Watch what happens in a very feminized and status-hungry society.

I find "Selling New York" on Home and Garden TV (i.e. "Home and Gay") to be fascinating. There's not a straight guy to be seen in the real-estate firms. All gay men or women (employing their awful daughters). A Soap actress was selling her parents apartment ... because they spend most of their time in the Berkshires or Palm Beach! The gay salesman brings in his "energy guy" to "cleanse" the bad vibes in the apartment.

Marc B said...

"It is time for the productive to move on."

There is no where else to go. The productive must find a creative way to stop sharing their resources via taxation. I've instinctively done this whenever I've encountered mooches, so why not find a way to let those lacking in intellect and industry fend for themselves?

Fred said...

"What could POSSIBLY constitute a sane motivation for them to seek out ethnic diversity?"

Any Swedes or Dutchmen here care to explain your countries' zeal for importing ethnic diversity?

Outland said...


I believe my Dutch countrymen consider themselves lucky to live in such a free, prosperous and well-organized country; they look with pity upon the Third World masses that end up here with nothing but their clothes on them. Leftists are not wrong to point out the tragedy of Third World poverty. I bless myself for being born Dutch.

The Dutch don't think about the long term when poor immigrants will form blocks of immigrant groups and will raise children that are simply not be thankful like their parents, but instead demand their piece of the pie -- and if they don't get it, will feel alienated from a technological Western society where only the smart, most well-adapted people seem to live the most comfortable.

Also, those of us Dutch who do look at foreign country which are quite diverse, we simply have too much to lose by defending un-PC causes like immigration restriction. For now, at least. Besides, while we have growing non-assimilated muslim minorities, they're not all bad either. I, for one, really don't mind, say, Turks that much at all. Most Dutch would prefer a lot less immigration, but what can you do? The elites have decided 'diversity must be!', we live their wish.

The Netherlands may be a socially progressive place to Americans, but it's also the homeland of 1M orthodox Calvinists who live fairly well in the countryside, breed like muslims and have nothing to do with the multiculti left-wing cities. These people keep the center-right in this country strong. The Netherlands is not similar to our Scandinavian cousins when it comes to controlled political discourse either; we're the country of Fortuyn, Hirsi Ali, Bolkestein, Wilders and many others. There's a right-wing here and it's part of the debate.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

The elites have decided 'diversity must be!', we live their wish.

Which is why Arizona's immigration bill will be thrown out by the courts, why California's was, and why Colorado's inititative wasn't even allowed on the ballot, blocked by the state supreme court.

I feel a revolution coming - or maybe it's just a Tea Party.

kurt9 said...

I skimmed through Kotkin's latest at my local Borders the other day. He does talk about how the decline of upward mobility is increasing and how it will be a problem in the future. Yet, he is enthusiastic as ever about immigration and population increase. It is this cognitive dissidence that I fail to comprehend.

I thought the purpose of immigration was to bring more people in to invent things, start new businesses, and to create more growth and opportunities for upward mobility for everyone. In other words, immigration is supposed to be good for us because it leads to more silicon valleys being created.

Now, Kotkin admits that upward mobility will become increasingly limited into the future. This suggests that future population growth will not lead to new silicon valleys and more opportunity for upward mobility. If so, then why do we need more people, whether they be immigrants or a higher native birthrate?

Pray tell?

Chris said...

Capt. Jack, Proposition 187 died not just because the district judge said it was unconstitutional but also because the state atty general bungled the appeal. That paved the way for the incoming, lefty governor Gray Davis to take over the "defense" of the law, which meant that it would die nice and quietly in the crib.

Anonymous said...

Our rulers have created for us a Tower of Babel and then they expect for us to travel to Alpha Centauri? How optimistic of them, but maybe they just want cheaper labor?

kurt9 said...

I think Kotkin does not think straight. He says in his book that he expect less job and career opportunity for the millenials than the boomers enjoyed. He expects this to remain the case even after the economy recovers. He also expects that upward mobility will decline for many people, especially the less educated. Also, the boomers will have to work longer because they have not saved for retirement.

The result of these trends will be more kids living with their parents longer (delayed adolescence) and the return of "three generational" house holds.

Then, he turns around to say that today's young people will have more kids than their boomer parents did. He also says that continued immigration will "revitalize" many of our cities. That both of these trends are positive for the future.

Is it just me, or does Kotkin's thinking suffer from a cognitive gap big enough to drive a Mack truck through?

If today's and future generation face such lousy economic prospects, why on Earth does he think they are going to have more kids? Is it not likely that they will become a permanent version of the early 90's Gen-X slackers or like Japanese (and European) young people today and not have any kids at all?

What I'm trying to wrap my mind around is how anyone right in the head could view population growth, completely independent of per capita economic growth, as a positive value.

Kotkin's reasoning makes no sense whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Whiskey - have you seen this site:


You lost your past, so you lost your future said...

Many of the denizens of your blessed Kwa, thanks to the fantastic concern shown to the citizenry by its elites (old school and new school) are experiencing exciting population growth within their own bodies. While usual suspect Kotkin calls such growth a blessing when it comes to the number of species vying for limited resources in a particular country, those getting a taste of it on the cellular level call it cancer.

Oh well - more cars means more accidents means more insurance claims, means more jobs! Drinks all around.

Goooooo West!

Disabled Veteran Commentator on Social Geography said...

We will revamp the construction industry by building a study base on the last square mile of farmland, all to erect a skyscraper 9,000 miles high. Then, once that's done, those hundred million additional people over the next forty years will be able to get jobs as elevator repairman, like these gents:


Not only will America be "the most affluent, culturally rich, and successful nation in human history," we'll also have a 9,000 mile high skyscraper from which we'll be able to stand and laugh at the impoverished fools in the Orient.

When it comes to "cultural richness", as opposed to the old fashioned kind of richness, our GNP is second to none and WILL be second to none.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

After all you very rarely hear any global business demanding that immigration control be relaxed so they can get some extra serfs. They dont have to. The left (who hate them naturally) will do it for them. Mr Fatcat can lean back in his chair and light up a big cigar while outside marxists demand he be given even more serfs than he actually wanted."

This is a good point. Everyone has heard Lenin's famous saying that when it came time to hang the last capitalist, he will sell us the rope (or words to that effect). However it seems to me, that as often as not now, it is the communists who are useful idiots for the capitalists rather than the obverse. If he were alive today, Lenin would be shocked. He'd also be paying large media corporations for hosting his website.

Richard Hoste said...


Even if the US population doubled, we still would be a very sparsely populated country by world standards. We don't have to worry about running out of cheap land.

ben tillman said...

What I'm trying to wrap my mind around is how anyone right in the head could view population growth, completely independent of per capita economic growth, as a positive value.

Kotkin's reasoning makes no sense whatsoever.

Sure it does, when you realize that he views himself not as a part of this society but instead as an owner of the society. From his perspective it's essentially a plantation. And he views it as disposable. This is the virulence caused by "horizontal transmission".

In the short-to-middle term, to a plantation owner like Kotkin, it's not per-capita production that matters. It's aggregate production. In the long run, there's always another plantation to move to when this one's soil is exhausted.

ben tillman said...

However it seems to me, that as often as not now, it is the communists who are useful idiots for the capitalists rather than the obverse.

Capitalism and Marxism have always been of a piece. They both result in centralization of wealth and power. Read Tawney's book, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism.

Anonymous said...


I think you may be a tad optimistic about how many people we can support. The Western 1/3 of the U.S. does not have the climate or topography to support a large population. Look at California alone. It may look like a big state, but about 90% of its 40 million people live in the LA Basin, the Central Valley, and the Bay Area. That's maybe about 25% of the state's land area?

kurt9 said...

In the short-to-middle term, to a plantation owner like Kotkin, it's not per-capita production that matters. It's aggregate production. In the long run, there's always another plantation to move to when this one's soil is exhausted.

Plantation owners understand full-well the necessity of proper stewardship of their land.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

In the long run, there's always another plantation to move to when this one's soil is exhausted.

Well, since you have to mention the name of one Eagles song/album ("The Long Run"), I'll quote lyrics from another: "There is no more new frontier/We have got to make it here."

Good luck finding another frontier, Mr. Kotkin.