Sunday, October 12, 2008

Townhouses vs. Birthrates

Ross Douthat's WaPo column defending homeownership/suburbia gets really halfassed at the end:
But there's a reason George Bailey's vision won out over Mr. Potter's. It offered the average American something no country on Earth had ever offered its citizens before -- the promise of an equality rooted in ownership, a citizenship rooted in self-sufficiency and an entrepreneurial spirit rooted in security. America has a higher birthrate than other Western societies; we take more economic risks; our patriotism, our optimism and our willingness to volunteer and give to charity exceed what you find in Canada and Europe. And our exceptionalism begins at home, in a way of life that we take for granted. It's easy to forget what a hard-won achievement something as simple as a private backyard or a spare bedroom looks like in the sweep of human history.

You know an argument is falling apart when it cites "the sweep of human history" to imply that Americans would suddenly stop having kids and being patriotic if they lived in townhouses. Time to pull out the 19th cent. fecundity data...

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