Bismarck: the twenty-five hour party town

State of Minnesota Takes Human Growth Hormone

Is population a reliable indicator of economic health?

Like a healthy child or a cancerous tumor, Minnesota is growing. On Thursday, the Star Tribune trumpeted Minnesota's population increase with surprising exuberance: "Minnesota, little brother to Wisconsin since statehood, may soon be asking, "Who's your Daddy?" (Confidential to the Strib: Who's your editor?)

In what reads a little like an endzone dance, the article continues:

A century after surging past Iowa in the population derby, Minnesota should surpass Wisconsin by 2025, becoming the unrivaled population center of the Upper Midwest, the Census Bureau is predicting today.

To be fair, the article goes on to suggest that "hometown boosterism" is part of the game in state demographics. A burgeoning birthroll and in migration, economists believe, are the lifeblood of a vital place. To admit that your state isn't growing is akin to conceding that it's dying.

Not everyone is a believer in the value of baby-making. Since 1969, for instance, the Sierra Club has advanced the policy that the United States should strive for zero population growth. (The same year, the group also officially endorsed the legalization of abortion, a position that remains on the books.)

Anyone can see the mess that sprawl has made of the metro's outlying counties and the tangle of failed transportation policies. But a look westward at North Dakota--or even south to Iowa--is not an encouraging sight. (Iowa's governor has taken to pleading with young people to come back home, which is surely a humiliating posture for a state's chief executive.)

We can make fun of the maternity-ward cheerleaders all we want, but it's hard to say which is more frightful: ecological despoliation or the cosmopolitan pleasures of Bismarck.

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