It doesn't matter what the story concerns there'll always be a quote from someone at the Downsider Institute.
For the Downsiders, nothing is cause for celebration, particularly celebrations they generate waste paper, encourage consumption, promote unhealthy eating, etc. Had the Downsiders been around on V-J day, they'd have seen the famous photo of the sailor smootching the swooning nurse and reacted with a campaign to raise awareness about oral herpes.
The Downsiders are particularly alarmed by the birth of the 300 millionth American, and I suspect they'd be pleased if the li'l nipper was smothered with a pillow. (Providing the cloth came from an organic cotton farm.)
Some might find the 300 million mark a sign of American dynamism and success, but it's Growth, and Growth is bad. As a Reuters story put it:
"The 300 million mark has prompted alarm from some environmentalists, who question whether the country's natural resources can support additional population."
Of course it prompted alarm. The only way you can prevent alarm is to hold your breath until you die, and even then you get dinged for exhaling too much CO2 at the end.
Can we fit more people in this jam-packed cramhole? Sure. Granted, things are cozy on the coasts, but the Downsiders must believe the Midwest is one giant smoking tire fire incapable of supporting life.
North Dakota alone has almost 2 trillion square feet. It has nine people per square mile. France has 270 per square mile, and you don't see them clawing over each other to get their next meal.
Then again, France isn't adding to its population at the same pace as the United States. Most of Western Europe is shrinking. Blame sclerotic socialism; blame the sense of cultural self-confidence that died at Verdun; blame the "Zero Population Growth" nonsense that condemned the productive societies to willful self-extinction.
European culture is libertine but infertile; the culture of Muslim immigrants is puritanical but fecund. The former will eventually adapt to the wishes of the latter and that's a downside the proponents of the European model didn't see coming.
Perhaps they were too busy anticipating the day America collapses from the sheer weight of humanity.
The Washington Post's article on the 300 millionth Yank quoted Dowell Myers, a professor of urban planning. He sang the Downsider creed in fine voice: "When we hit 200 million, we were solidifying our position. But at 300 million, we are beginning to be crushed under the weight of our own quality-of-life degradation."
Who can argue? No one; our degraded life here in the Boomtown Gulag crunches the very air from your lungs. As Time magazine described this heckhole: "Pollution disintegrates nylon stockings in Chicago and Los Angeles. Rapidly industrializing Denver, which for many years boasted of its crystalline air, is now often smogbound."
Granted, Time said that in 1967, the year the population hit 200 million, and Los Angeles is cleaner now. Nylons no longer melt off women's legs and puddle in their shoes. For this we can thank environmentalists, who nagged us until we cleaned up, and scientific progress, which devised new ways to cut down on our nest-fouling.
But please, don't count on the latter to make life easier for the next 100 million. The Post also quoted William Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer:
"I think that it's much easier to project ahead the population of the United States and get scared about it than it is to project ahead what kinds of scientific and technological innovations will allow us to support that population growth."
Scared. Ah, the manly men of the good ship Downsider! Newborn ahoy, men turn sail!
Of course there are downsides to increased population. There's a downside to everything, except being a Downsider; there will always be a market in telling people things are going poorly.
But we need people. At the risk of sounding unfashionable, people are good. A nation cannot shrink and lead. If the Downsiders would like to forbid immigration, copy China's one-child policy and triple the number of abortions, they should make the case. Although those solutions have their own downsides.
Uh oh. Do I owe someone a membership fee now?