Scare Tactics From Population Control Advocates

By. Neil Williamson

This morning’s Daily Progress featured a letter to the editor penned by Jack Marshall, President of Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population

I suppose we should be grateful to the economist who recently consoled local homebuilders that their sluggish business will, when the recession ends, “snap back” in response to a “pent-up demand” (“Hold on for coming boom, builders told,” The Daily Progress, Feb. 20).

Without her public prediction, the slowdown in residential development might have lulled those of us concerned with Albemarle County’s steady population increase into a false confidence that our growth is getting under control.

But as the expert reminds us, we haven’t yet faced the fact that our attractive community lures an endless flow of new businesses and residents — endless, that is, unless we put an end to it.

Mr. Marshall seems to believe that having an attractive, accessible community where all citizens and their businesses thrive generates unwanted attention from those outsiders who might wish to move here.  The Free Enterprise Forumbelieves the greatest asset in any community is the people in the community.  We firmly believe Americans have a right to choose where they live and local government does not have the right to obstruct this fundamental  freedom.

Mr. Marshall’s letter continues by ramping up the rhetoric:

 How would we be better off with a population two, three, four times what is now (think of the additional houses, cars, school buildings, etc.)?

What would be the impacts of this kind of growth on groundwater, streams, fields, forests, public safety, taxes?

Many politiians have used the strategy, “When the facts don’t support your case change the facts”.  The suggestion of  doubling of population, in the near term, defies logic based on historic population trends.

A few years ago, Loudoun County Supervisor Jim Burton, a slow growth advocate spoke to the League of Women Voters in Charlottesville.  With Mr. Marshall in the audience, I asked Mr. Burton “What level of annual growth is sustainable?”  His reply, “2%”. 

Without any specific local government population control policy, Albemarle County has grown at a rate between 1% and 2% annually.

The Free Enterprise Forum believes local government has many tasks to accomplish, population control should not be added to the list.

One response

  1. Neil:
    I enjoyed the logic of your column, but not the terms you employed. To me, “population control” is meant to demonize ASAP, just like “pro-life” is meant to cast abortion supporters as — well, you know. If I recall correctly, ASAP (Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population) advocates an eventual stabilization of Charlottesville/Albemarle’s population at a level to be determined by the community through the normal legislative/administrative channels (for example, zoning ordinances enacted by popularly elected County Supervisors and City Council members). That doesn’t sound nearly as harsh as “population control.” Your column could be titled “Semantical Scare Tactics from the Free Enterprise Forum.”

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