Demographics Is Destiny

PieChartThumbby Cato   8/25/14
One of my longest standing observations is “demographics is destiny”.  Put bluntly, shrinking populations do not support growing economies.  The reverse as a corollary is also true: bad economics results in shrinking economies and triggers shrinking … or migrating … populations.  No one runs away from wealth or towards poverty if they have a choice!

California, Illinois, New York and other liberal bastions have been losing native-born population for the last 15 to 20 years, relying on foreign-born immigrants to partly fill in that loss.  Over-taxation, over-regulation, and out of control spending and borrowing … which together are at the core of bad economics … is the reason I assign for this long running trend.

That low tax and light regulation states like Texas, states with rational spending and low debt, offering good economic climates, are the recipients of these citizen-migrants underscores my thinking.  And it’s the expanding population of Texas that is at the core of the state’s economic vibrancy.


This graphic is a list of the 25 fastest shrinking US cities of 50,000 or more, losses sustained in just in one year, compiled by Bloomberg News.

Are they all future bankrupts like Detroit, Michigan and Stockton, California?  Perhaps not, but the concentration in and hallowing out of Rust Belt and Old Confederacy states is obvious, Great Lakes to Caribbean.  This is just the bottom 25.  On a list of several hundred the trend would be even more pronounced.

What do these town have in common?  My best guess would be:  they were all vibrant, entrepreneurial manufacturing and assembly and shipping centers, dotted with dozens of small private firms, each one the sweat and blood of a local boy made good, located along major trucking routes back in the day.  Years of bad economic policy, local, state, and federal, years of mandated costs, unions, over-regulation and mountains of bureaucratic paperwork have taken their toll.

The crisis of the middle class in Obama’s America is not just about families.  It’s about towns and cities where those families lived for generations, worked and died.  Much has been written about the decline of the middle class, about the over-regulation and anti-business animus liberals have instilled at many governmental levels; local, state and federal.  It’s all true.

These towns were where that middle class thrived; the small town America in which the American middle class became the envy of the world.  I grew up in one of them and it was bursting at the seams with enthusiasm.  The local business founders were kings; admired.  Not so much today.  Oh, there’s development 15 miles out of town; fast food and motels along the Interstate.  New subdivisions where an NYSE firm built a headquarters.  But all the small manufacturing firms are gone.  The family businesses are gone.  The center of town is fading away.

These towns and thousands more like them are gradually becoming tomorrow’s ghost towns; the tombstones of bad economic policies, bad government and falling populations.  And as the people who built these towns move their families out these towns will gradually shrink, and those who stay behind gradually become wards of the state.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Bloomberg ranked U.S. cities based on the percentage change in population from 2012 to 2013 and identified the 25 that were shrinking the most.  Methodology: Only cities with at least 50,000 residents as of 2013 were included. Population estimates were as of July 1 each year. Data were rounded.  Source:

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34 Responses to Demographics Is Destiny

  1. Glenn Fairman says:

    People vote with their feet. California will one day implode like a termite ridden rocking chair. Only the rich, government workers, those on public service pensions, service economy wretches, yard care Mexicans, and the underclass will populate the once Golden State. The fall will not be pretty.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    The problem for the blue states is that they’re hemorrhaging productive people while foreign immigrants (many of whom end up as charges on the public fisc) accumulate. This makes their long-term prognosis generally poor. Unfortunately, many of the people fleeing those budding pestholes carry with them the same political views that ruined them (liberals tend not to learn from experience). In fact, there was an article on this subject (the blue-state diaspora) linked to on Hot Air which I just read.

    Another demographic problem is that when a population doesn’t reproduce itself, it must import new people to do the work. In the US, those come mostly from Latin America, bringing its antithetical culture. In Europe, they come mostly from the Evil Crescent, bringing an actively inimical culture.

    • Misanthropette says:

      With vast technological gains come gains in productivity. Therefore, the often repeated mantra of “must import new people to do the jobs Americans won’t do” is a pernicious, specious statement. If anything, the U.S. should be engaging in mass, massive deportation to “right size” (yeah I’m using their terms) the workforce in an age of evaporating jobs.

      • Cato says:

        This is a good rant and gets cheers but it’s not factually valid. There are labor shortages in several industries right now; in construction and skilled manufacturing … “skilled” meaning welding and finish carpentry and the like, that require more than just muscle to perform. Texas Instruments has several hundred open job postings, some of which do not require a college degree but do require technical training.

        The artificial restrictions on skilled immigration, in our current situation, are just foolish. The progressive’s ‘down the nose’ attitude towards non-academic training, along with the failure of union’s apprentice programs, are also a large part of the problem we have and increasingly will have.


          Cato, you sound like a Libertarian – “Let’s bring in foreign workers to take all those jobs Americans are too unskilled to do, and our culture be damned.” The two problems with this are that sacrificing our culture and condemning Americans to joblessness is too high a price to pay for corporate convenience. There may well be some minor shortages in certain of the skilled trades, but if so, the free market will take care of that: employers will have to raise (American) wages, offer good deals for people to immigrate from other states, or else train members of the available workforce. All of these are good outcomes; giving our jobs away to aliens is not.

          The present crisis is so severe that I believe no alien should be allowed to hold a job in the this country at all. I well remember the mass layoff at my company early in Obama’s presidency in which I and many others lost their jobs. Strangely, no H1-B visa holders were let go – why do you think that was? These aliens are dependent on the company and will generally work for lower wages. America exists for the benefit of its citizens, not the citizens of other countries.

        • Misanthropette says:

          Rant? Using the denigrating tactics of the left doesn’t discount my point. Labor shortages are a function of wages. What you term a “labor shortage” is merely Employer X unwilling or unable to pay a fair market wage to an American citizen burdened by regulations and Obamacare. That Employer seeks to widen his supply pool by including the citizens of other countries. Let’s be clear about what that ridiculous lie “labor shortage” means!

          Let’s understand what that means to the country. When immigration policy is determined only by businesses, not by the native-born population’s wants and needs, is that good policy for the majority of the country’s citizens? No.

          Your last paragraph is absolute nonsense. I don’t know in which hole your head resides, but where I live most professionals (4+ years of college) are unemployed (me included). You cannot reconcile the facts on unemployment among Americans with your statement. More than 100 million are not in the workforce due to progressive policies like the enactment of Obamacare the Jobkiller. Business has found a workaround which is permitted by Congress, the Executive Branch and the Courts to import labor not subject to these restrictions. Now business openly skirts laws and advocates for completely open borders. I do not believe this makes for a strong economy or culture.

          As one of those unemployed professionals, I’m tired of the insults and lies. Thankfully I have savings and assets I can sell. However, too many people do not (also a function of moronic eggheads opining about “economic and tax policy”). Tread carefully, libertarian.

        • DBS says:

          Cato I hope you have the patience for one more rant, ’cause here’s another one.
          A construction project– say for a housing tract- has a wide variety of jobs requiring a wide variety of skill levels. I know for a fact that contractors will try to hire as many illegals as possible for those jobs that don’t require a high level of skills. Once hired , these new employees have a great opportunity to learn new skills while also doing the tasks they were hired to do. This sort of “On The Job Training” is a tradition that goes all the back to the days of the classic Master/Apprentice tradition. In more recent times it has become a more informal system where local boys , and I’m sure local girls as well, fill the role of “apprentice”. Now days, these apprentices are referred to as “The Dumb New Guy”. Now that Illegal Aliens are being substituted for Americans this opportunity has been lost to America’s young people– not that contractors give a sh*t. All they want is to have the work done for as little -to-nothing as possible. This sort of arrangement is usually referred to as “The Golden Rule” It’s the man with the gold who makes the rules.

  3. Misanthropette says:

    Given the progressive goal of leveling everything and everyone through mass confiscation of private property and redistribution, I have to wonder how long before growth states like Texas, Florida or North Dakota to become New York, Illinois or California?

    The federal government’s obliteration of our federalist system has created a national government with power and authority never ceded to it by anyone, anywhere. Before mass immigration in the early 20th century, one could move from a poorly governed or corrupt state like NY or MS to another state, better or more effectively governed. However, mass migrations from countries with populations raised in serfdom and poverty resulted in a class of ignorant voters who simply replaced their former aristocratic classes with government entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, then begat children who reveled in the Great Society. Now “immigrants” seek out not opportunity, but ever-encroaching federal government with Obamacare and other federal abridgements of state jurisdiction over education, transportation, energy, job creation, etc…. Since mass immigration continues to dilute native-born population, what chance do Americans have? None.

    Under the 9th and 10th Amendments, the federal government has no jurisdiction over most matters (including Ferguson), but a few, or tens of millions of ignorant poor people dumped on our shores has destroyed what it means to think like an American, to BE an American. Cato is correct, demographics IS destiny. That applies on a global as well as a domestic scale. The union mentality, as my entrepreneurial parents used to call it, is destructive to liberty, but that concept was imported, not home grown. That’s why immigration policy is perhaps more important to the future of a country than economic policy and that is why the kind of immigrant worship in which Americans love to engage through the rose-colored glasses of family sentiment can be misleading and even dangerous.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Given the progressive goal of leveling everything and everyone through mass confiscation of private property and redistribution, I have to wonder how long before growth states like Texas, Florida or North Dakota to become New York, Illinois or California?

      I think its highly likely that by importing so many Californians, Texas is sowing the seeds of its own doom. It will trade a short-term boost in the economy for a long-term boost in Libtardism.

      Glenn Beck asked just this question of Governor Perry a few months ago while Perry was on tour in California trying to recruit business. Beck asked Perry how he could maintain the flavor and culture of Texas if you import a bunch of Californians? Perry had no good answer. We can only hope that donning cowboy boots and a cowboy hat is all it takes.

      Still, you can’t blame Perry for poaching off of idiot Californians. And it’s certainly possible that instead of them turning Texas blue, Perry and Texas will make real men and women out of these imports. I’m not betting on it, but in theory it could happen. Others closer to the situation may have a different opinion.

      But we have plenty of California transplant libtards in Washington State. And there is no sign that they have learned the lesson of the policies that caused many of them to flee California in the first place.

      • Cato says:

        Interstate 10 has been busy for a long time, Brad, and Texas is still Texas. Still have not elected a Democrat to any statewide office … of course we have our local tribes of them … since Bush became governor for the first time.

        Perhaps the very idea of “Texas” sorts out the Californians who move, with the liberals headed north and the workers and small business owners headed east. Whatever the reason, a decade’s worth of migration hasn’t altered the landscape very much here.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Still have not elected a Democrat to any statewide office

          I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting Texas. Perhaps one day soon I will. But I can tell you that in the Northwest it is absolutely no reassurance to say that a Republican has been elected rather than a Democrat. We have Republicans who are every bit as liberal as the Democrats….sometimes worse. Slade Gordon comes to mind. Rob McKenna was the losing Republican candidate for governor in the last electon. One of his platforms was “early childhood education.” Yep. Get ’em while they’re young, Rob, you useful idiot.

          May Texas remain strong, free, and brave. But, good gosh, I don’t know how that will happen unless there is something in the water that they drink. Still, there’s nothing like picking at the carcass of Mexifornia. I have to hand it to Governor Perry (my first choice for Prez) for circling that rotting carcass of a state like an opportunistic buzzard (in the good sense of the word).

          • Timothy Lane says:

            My father was stationed in Galveston in 1957-9, so I have some familiarity with the state (and have been there twice since then to attend SF conventions, in 1985 and 1997). But note that there is a liberal wing of the party there, too, which in fact has allied with the Democrats to control the State Assembly. This probably explains how Rick Perry was indicated at the suggestion of a Republican special prosecutor. Most likely the divisions are simply a reflection of what happens when a party comes to dominate a state, so that anyone seeking a relatively easy political future is likely to join them regardless of political views.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Most likely the divisions are simply a reflection of what happens when a party comes to dominate a state, so that anyone seeking a relatively easy political future is likely to join them regardless of political views.

              That’s a good bit of political philosophy right there. I’m sure that happens all the time.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                I think this is particularly true for Republicans.

                Conservatives, by virtue of our philosophy, are going to be scarce in government. We don’t much want to be involved in running it and certainly don’t want a lot of it, so we look for other things to do.

                But politicians of all stripes like government, by definition. This is no problem for Democrats and progressives in a leftist stronghold, because they openly espouse government as the solution. So voters will likely get what they voted for.

                But in conservative districts, there is a bigger chance that the politician who is elected will come out when elected as more liberal than advertised. Or at least, the politician will come out for more government spending than advertised.

                This has come to a head in Texas as the state-wide offices have been held by Republicans for some time now. But the Tea Party types have been fighting very hard against the crony capitalist, big spending types.

                As I mentioned some time back, I think the Republican party moved somewhat to the right in this year’s elections, because the Tea Party types and conservatives, in general, were very involved in getting out the vote in primaries.

                But forgive me for repeating, they are still all politicians so we should not invest too much in them.

          • Misanthropette says:

            Great food, great booze, good peeps, same idiot politicians as the rest of the country.


        Leftists never learn, Brad, and we Conservatives must accept that and stop trying to convince them that we’re right and they’re wrong – what we need to convince them of is that we’re simply not going to allow them to rule us by brute force, even if we have to secede from them or nullify their unconstitutional “laws”. The Left can no more learn from their destruction of Detroit than they can from the failures of the Soviet Union and North Korea: “This time, we’re going to do socialism right.”

        As for Perry, he’s an intellectual flyweight who (like Libertarians) does not appreciate the importance of culture. He is neither the hope nor the future of the Republican Party, even if his tenure as Governor of Texas (a very weak office, by the way, under the terms of the Texas Constitution) has been reasonably successful.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Well, I’ll take Perry over Christie, Jeb Bush, or Rubio. And one of those four is likely to be at the top of the ticket. But ya never know.

          • Misanthropette says:

            I’ll take none of those forced choices, thank you very much! If “voting” in the 2016 election means any of those ne’er-do-wells, I’ll stay home and help deliver Establishment Republicans the death blow they so richly deserve.

            My top choice for president: Jeff Sessions.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Misanthropette, I appreciate your candor. Even if we don’t agree (and we probably do agree on this issue — Sessions would certainly be preferable over what we will get), I appreciate one of the principles that guides Dennis Prager: clarity over agreement.

              I will, however, vote for Jeb Bush over, say, Hillary instead of staying home — just as I voted for Romney rather than Obama rather than staying home. And from what I’ve read, Obama gets defeated rather easily if conservatives don’t stay home in that last election. To me a protest vote is like cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. And you’ve rightly, I think, noted some of Cato’s libertarian proclivities. One of the biggest libertarian proclivities is to stay home — if not actually to support the Democrat candidate — if one’s preferred candidate is not on the ballot. If libertarianism is a losing proposition (and it is), we want to be sure we don’t mimic their behavior. And I don’t mean Cato’s. I mean that of libertarians in general which it has been my misfortunate to come to understand in some detail.

              And the theory of sticking it to the Establishment RINO Republicans by staying home is a good theory. Unfortunately, this hasn’t played out in real life. We’ve run that experiment several times. They lose with Ford, Bush I (at least the second time around), McCain, Romney, and I’m sure I’m leaving out some other big names. The Establishment Republicans RINOs have not learned from this and it is doubtful they ever will. So staying home is something we do to satisfy ourselves, for it will likely do no good in regards to moving the country right.

              What we need to do is work in between election cycles to invigorate people on conservative ideas and support conservative candidates at the local and state level. Those are our future presidential candidates. And this will require, from time to time, holding our noses and voting for a Democrat Lite (Romney) instead of a hardcore Marxist such as Obama. And any reasonable person must be able to understand the significant difference between the two.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Well, I agree that Jeff Sessions would be a fine choice, perhaps the only senator I could support (I tend to prefer governors because they have actual experience as executives). But as for refraining from voting — this can be right in certain circumstances, but one must realize that a bad Republican is still less bad than just about any Democrat. Someone who will do no good isn’t as bad as someone who actually seeks to harm the country.

            • NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

              I’d like Sessions too, Misantropette – at least he understands (as Cato apparently does not) that continued mass immigration will destroy this country, and he’s nearly alone among congressional Republicans.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          The best thing which can be said about Perry is that he didn’t do much damage. And although I am no fan, I like it that he and the Bushes are, apparently, at logger-heads. Any Republican who will stand up to the Bush clan is ok in my book.

          Thank God when Perry leaves office, Texas will not get the odious David Dewhurst for Governor.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Well, it could be worse. It could be Wendy Davis, Moloch’s gift to Texas. Personally, I hope her fellow Molochite femocrats continue to pour more money into her campaign, since that money could do a lot more damage deployed to a winnable race.

  4. Cato says:

    Both of the comments above, by Glenn and Timothy, are true to a degree, but neither is true unqualifiedly. Both for blue state migrants and the foreign born, the process of assimilation is the deciding factor.

    Where assimilation into the benefits of free markets takes place among the native born, as with a rush of California’s middle class to Texas in the last 7 or 8 year in a search for abundant jobs, politics need not be corrupted.

    Assimilation of the foreign born requires one key step: the filter of a low-welfare policy towards non-citizens. That is not to say zero, but low enough that few opt to come to, for example, Texas instead of California if welfare benefits is their prime objective.

    Texas has as large an immigrant population as does any other southwestern state but with restrained access to welfare the bulk of those immigrants come to Texas for the same reason Californian’s do. To find jobs and work. Rare is the Texan who would call the Latinos in their city lazy. The welfare policy filter makes all the difference.

    Those condemning foreign immigration universally and unqualifiedly are bypassing the benefits that immigrants have provided historically and will provide in the future. There is immigration that deteriorates and immigration that strengthens. All my ancestors came to the US from somewhere else. I can’t think of them as negatives.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      You’ll recall that California passed a referendum (opposed by Democrats and establishment Republicans) to exclude illegal aliens from government benefits of any sort. The anti-democrats (i.e., the Democrats) sued to block it, and got the courts to rule in their favor. Of course, there was no restriction proposed on legal immigrants (even though theoretically they aren’t supposed to be let in if they can’t support themselves without taxpayer assistance).

    • Misanthropette says:

      Immigration exists to serve the interests of American citizens. It is not a right. Immigration is now a net negative for the majority of Americans. I also have to take your position to its extreme. When do Americans get to close the doors? At 400 million? One billion? Never? Should we always be forced to take excess population because we always have? Can you see the crazy in that thinking?

      Reading your post, I believe you’ve been indoctrinated to believe all immigration at all times is always a public good. It isn’t. When immigration policy is used to impoverish (“level”) opportunities for native-born, and to change the culture to a type of serfdom, I cannot agree that immigration strengthens. The problem is you don’t see yourself as prejudiced against your fellow citizens, but you are. You impute all negative qualities to native born Americans and all positive qualities to every immigrant. The vast majority of legal as well as illegal immigrants access some kind of public welfare or assistance. The vast majority of legal immigrants support more government, more entitlements, more progressive policies.

      I cannot remember who wrote that it takes 3-4 generations to make an American. I agree with that statement. Immigrants, no matter how contributing, hard-working, or otherwise noble their motives, are, for lack of a better term, tainted by their foreign upbringing. They may become citizens, but are never truly “American”.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Recent reports indicate that total employment among native-born Americans has been stagnant since around 2000. Immigration is a good thing — when the economy is strong enough to absorb the extra laborers. Under Obamanomics, it isn’t and never will be.

        • Misanthropette says:

          Even when the economy is strong, Americans ought to reject immigration from this day forward. Until wages rise to reflect currency devaluation, importation of additional labor is counterproductive and harmful. Then there is the ineluctable economic downturn during which no immigrants ever leave.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            This is a good point. The effect of mass immigration over the past 20 years has been devastating on the native-born population, and we need to get back to where we were (adjusted for inflation and population growth) before we can allow it to resume. Sadly, no one in DC is willing to accept such a time-out.


        Indeed. And Cato also ignores the very serious political consequences of immigration: the vast majority of immigrants votes Democratic and probably will continue to do so for at least several generations. That means that enough immigrants will give the Democrats a permanent hammerlock on power, which means the country will either split or be destroyed. Nor is this mere theory: California has been lost primarily through immigration. If the U.S. becomes as Hispanic and Asian as California, it will become as Democratic as California – a one-party state.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Many people forget that California, prior to 1992, was considered a generally Republican state, at least in presidential elections, and was quite competitive in state elections. But over time, as the Democratic population (dominated by immigrants, both Asian and Hispanic) grew, Republicans began to leave, and now . . .

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Great points, Nik.

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