Population Growth Doesn't Affect the Quality of Life

The opinion-page article "Immigration Versus Our Grandchildren," May 31, illustrates the true weakness of the intellectual case against legal immigration. In his "the sky is falling" attitude about immigrants increasing US population growth, the author ignores a rather obvious fact: Since World War II, by all objective measures, Americans' quality of life has improved substantially at the same time our population has significantly increased.

The author's argument that our economy would improve with negative population growth is not supported by any facts or historical evidence.

During the House floor debate on immigration, Rep. Howard Berman (D) of California retorted, "I just want to remind everyone of the demographer Thomas Malthus, who looked at population projections ... and concluded there is no way in the world there would be enough food to feed people."

Mr. Malthus was wrong and so is the article.

Stuart Anderson


Visiting Policy Analyst

CATO Institute

Ethiopia's progress

On May 28, Ethiopia commemorated its fifth-year anniversary of the overthrow of a 17-year dictatorial government. As we celebrate this event, it is useful to reflect on the changes that Ethiopia has undertaken, the gains it has made, and the challenges that still face us.

Throughout the 1970s and '80s, Ethiopia was facing dismal conditions such as civil war, extreme poverty, famine, and inefficient allocation of resources and manpower under the military rule of the Derg regime. When the Derg was overthrown in May 1991, the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE) inherited a stagnant, impoverished country suffering from the inefficiency of being run by a state economy for 17 years.

The years of the Derg regime set Ethiopia's political and economic development back several decades. The Ethiopia that the TGE inherited in 1991 was fragile and desperate. A July 1991 national conference endorsed the TGE, a coalition of groups led by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Over the next four years, the TGE's Council of Representatives focused on rebuilding the country and establishing law and order in the wake of civil war. In May 1995, free and fair elections were held, with the overwhelming majority voting in favor of the EPRDF's policies, thus creating the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE), with EPRDF candidate Meles Zenawi as prime minister.

Beginning under the TGE and continuing under the FDRE, Ethiopia has embarked on a bold new experiment of decentralization, often called ethnic federalization, whereby Ethiopia's regional states have a greater voice in their futures, as opposed to both the Derg and the Imperial systems of centralized decisionmaking. Because the concept of decentralization is new to Africa, there has been some controversy as to the wisdom of this policy.

As Ethiopia grows politically and economically, it is increasingly seen as a key ally of the United States and the West. The Horn of Africa is still plagued by territorial disputes, fighting among rival warlords, and interreligious civil war, but Ethiopia currently represents a zone of stability. Ethiopia, home of the Organization of African Unity, has once more begun to play an active role in preserving regional stability.

As Ethiopia continues to develop its political, economic, and social institutions, we acknowledge that there is still much to be done. Given the state of our nation following the Derg, it would be unrealistic to place one's expectations too high. However, on the fifth anniversary of our independence, we can look back with pride at the transition to a peaceful, democratic Ethiopia and improvement in the quality of life for Ethiopians.

Berhane Gebre-Christos

Ambassador of Ethiopia


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