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In Wednesday s (Jan. 8) paper, I endured yet another awful editorial ( Imagine all the people ) by an Economics Professor at Troy University. The author clearly decided first upon his conclusion, an Ayn Rand platitude, and then spun a tale of sophistry intended to justify it.

For instance, he glibly writes In fact, all of the natural resources available when I was a kid are still here which not only is simply false as stated no one has gone back and replaced all the minerals mined in the last few decades but is not even true in the hyperbolic and rhetorical sense I presume he intended. While we still have plenty of oil for our cars today, we have seen the end of easy oil since fracking and Gulf drilling can hardly replace the Texas/Oklahoma bonanza; gone are the days of a wildcatter s shallow well coming a gusher. While we still have plenty of fish to eat today, those decades have seen the demise of much of the north Atlantic fishery, particularly the previously super-plentiful cod. When was the last time you ate cod, professor? It was a staple when you were a kid. Is that resource, as you write, still here ?

Another ridiculous example: he writes The air has improved in part thanks to regulation, but in big part thanks to innovations... that save firms money by producing more efficiently. This is revisionist hogwash. I am old enough to have seen and breathed smog so thick that visibility was much less than 100 feet, and there was one and only one thing that made it better: the EPA. I personally witnessed the cause-and-effect of air quality regulations, in that time frame, because I was there and breathing. The innovations that save firms money came after that, in response to implementing pollution regulations at minimum cost. Just as we see in China, businesses do not voluntarily spend money to clean up the air and the water and the land. The professor puts the cart before the horse.

Another clueless example: Commodity markets for staples such as corn and wheat serve as another example. Of what? Certainly not his thesis! The U.S. commodity market for corn, in particular, is the most subsidized, politically manipulated, and non-free-market extant. The only thing to which our corn market serves witness is the lobbying power of Cargill and Archer-Daniels-Midland. Surely a professor of political economy knows this?

Yet another: The loss of these children . . . [is] awful for China s national economy in terms of economic growth. The well-known Chinese GDP data in the last 20 years simply contradicts this statement. While there may well be very bad consequences to the one-child policy, available data clearly shows this is NOT one of them. The professor is a professor of economics, correct?

But these are all mere details. The whole point of his essay is to prove his contention that there really is no such thing as overpopulation: the more the better is always true, because human beings are productive. Considering the above shaky supports, one can hardly be surprised that his thesis is both simply false as stated while also not even true in the rhetorical sense intended. In the literal sense, there are numerous examples of the starvation collapse of civilizations almost entirely due to overpopulation: Easter Island, Mayan Empire, and the Anasazi spring to mind. I wonder: would they have preferred birth control over near-extinction?

In the larger, philosophical sense that I presume he intended, his thesis boils down to: more people always implies more net productivity. I presume the professor has never been in a traffic jam.

Gerald A. Larson