Going Down Slow

Until recently, thinking and writing in dubious terms about immigration has been, well, something that polite and right-thinking folks just didn't do. But now that taboo seems to be lifting, as evidenced by the recent publication of such books as George Kennan's Around the Cragged Hill and Paul Kennedy's Preparing for the Twenty-First Century: both of these volumes feature forthright, unsentimental, and critical analyses of international migration phenomena. Among those calling for a reappraisal of our immigration policies is Virginia Abernethy, professor of psychiatry (anthropology) at Vanderbilt Medical School and editor of Population and Environment. In her fact-filled new book, Population Politics, she covers a wide range of topics relating to why so many of our planet's people wish to emigrate to this country.

Abernethy's interest in American immigration policy comes out of an overarching concern about growth in general and population growth in particular. She clearly is not of the Julian Simon-Cornucopian school, and she believes that we are approaching limits in many quarters. With the global population rising at a rate of 10,000 people an hour, 250,000 a day, 95 million a year, where, she wants to know, will the necessary natural resources be found and the resulting wastes go?

In the book's opening section. Professor Abernethy deals with matters pertaining to demographics...

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