Jonathan Last’s thoughtful and important new book, What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster is a fun read. Policy questions aside, Last provides a fascinating and crystal-clear account of America’s demographic decline. There’s plenty to learn on related issues as well. Last explains, for example, why the recent plateau in divorce statistics may be a bit of an illusion. Family decline is very possibly a good deal more advanced than we’ve realized.I quite like the idea of duelling catastrophes, as if you get the catastrophe of your choosing at the polls.
It would take a more extended effort from Last to play these ideas out, but what’s striking is how diametrically opposed his vision is to the regnant aspirations of the left. Today’s rage for “sustainability” is largely an effort to draw people out of suburbs and press them instead into tiny, densely-packed urban apartments. Blocking highway construction is a favorite tactic of these greens. That can only compound what Last calls our “coming demographic disaster.” So the supposed solution to the left’s favored cataclysm of global warming is apparently the worst possible step to take in response to the right’s disaster scenario of demographic-economic meltdown. It’s a case of dueling catastrophes.
The left’s anti-suburban project draws heavily on the claim that suburbs kill community, a narrative that seems outdated given the impersonal nature of today’s urban apartments complexes. Last is suggesting that, with a few tweaks, community may actually have more chance at a comeback in the suburbs than the city. That is a novel, fascinating, and potentially very important idea.
But wait a minute...I voted for the flaming radioactive meteor party.
Anyway, the left makes you not have kids by stuffing you into giant Le Corbusier towers. Discuss!