Have you ever heard of an organization called Californians for Population Stabilization?
They are a 501(c)(3) public educational organization which, as their name suggests, strives to teach the world, and California in particular, about the dangers of overpopulation. Since the majority of population growth in California, and the United States, is a product of mass immigration, they focus on advocating for considerably less immigration. Importantly, CAPS has a decidedly unique environmentalist thrust to it. They were founded by environmentalists, their website is covered in green, and they have many articles on how parks, farmland, and the environment is degraded by America’s ever-increasing population. This is CAPS’ claim to fame; they are the country’s foremost environmentalist immigration-restrictionist organization with the aim of spreading its advocacy message far and wide .
They are also a waste of time, money, and talent.
According to their 990 tax form, in 2016 they took in $927,808.00, modestly less than their 2015 figure of $1,181,416.00. Their operating expenses for 2016 were $1,049,754.00, and in 2015 were $1,199,157.00. If those numbers look funny to you, rest assured you are reading them correctly. They operate in the red, per their own publicly available tax records.
To what end was that money spent?
Well, it certainly did not contribute to developing a meaningful web presence. According to Alexa, a web traffic monitor, the CAPS website is the 459,662th most popular site in the country. While these rankings are always fluctuating somewhat, that ranking is unambiguously sad. For context, consider that American Renaissance is currently sitting at about 21,000th most popular. VDare is around 24,000th most popular. Even extremely niche news and commentary sites are enormously more popular than CAPS. For example, The New Left Review, a far-left academic outlet that publishes once every two months, ranks around 156,000th most popular. Lilith, a website for Jewish feminists, ranks around 347,000th most popular. In short, it is safe to say that CAPS’ regular blog posts and articles are not doing much, if anything, to break into the national conversation. Go to their blog feed and click on any article. You’ll see not a single comment.
Incredibly, CAPS’ online impact beyond their website is even smaller. Their YouTube channel, in operation since 2007 and with around 200 videos uploaded, has 374 subscribers. Compare that to The American Renaissance, a organization which has the similar goal of expanding its public reach as much as possible. The American Renaissance channel, founded in 2011, has over 40,000 subscribers. The total views for every AmRen video put together is 4.6 million. The total views for every CAPS video put together is less than one third of one million. Only two videos they have released in the last five years have reached more than 10,000 views. The two most popular AmRen videos each have more views than the total number of views of every CAPS video released in the last ten years.
Many of those videos are TV spots, so in theory they could be making a big impact on older voters who see them during the nightly news, but don’t have much of a web presence. But if that were the case, presumably California would have a large crop of politicians regularly addressing the need to reduce immigration, especially for environmental reasons. I can’t think of a single one—can you?
Remember too that CAPS was founded in 1986, several years before American Renaissance (founded in 1990) and over a decade before VDare (founded in 1999).
Yet, CAPS spends quite a bit of money on raising public awareness. According to their own financial assessment, in 2016 they spent $307,196.00 on advertising and $39,887.00 on “Internet and web presence.” That totals just over $347,000.00 in one year for videos, Twitter, and a website with next to no impact.
Their next biggest expenditure is in salaries and related costs (insurance, benefits, etc.) for their five employees. That total sum is $278,821.00. Another big line item is “development,” which means “fundraising.” In 2016, they spent $77,534.00 on that item. A very unclear expense is labeled “other outside services,” which runs at $181,514.00. This is likely a mix of fees to fundraising and advertising “consultants,” and honorariums to contributors to their blog.
The money accounted for above is about two thirds of one million dollars. The final third is a mix of small items routine for any public advocacy group. But still, the costs seem steep, such as spending $6,503 on office supplies, and another $25,022 on office expenses. Another $8,710 was spent on board meetings and related travel costs, and $34,009 was spent on rent and facility expenses.
Most any expense can be justified if it gets you want you want. But as far as I can tell, CAPS, insofar as it is a public advocacy organization, has never made any impact on anything. No policy that the organization has come up with or advocated for has ever come into law in California, and it would be quite a stretch of the imagination to say that the Trump administration’s new plans for immigration reform were in any way influenced by CAPS. Their numerous writers are never featured in any national newspaper or website. CAPS cannot even claim what many dissident, and even Marxian, outlets can: minimal influence, but a large and steadily growing readership.
None of this would matter terribly much if CAPS were just another blog or writer’s collective. But it isn’t. It’s a sizable organization with several employees and an operating budget of over a million a year. This is not only a waste, but actually counterproductive for the immigration-restrictionist movement as a whole.
Take, for example, Joe Guzzardi, the national media director for CAPS. Among other responsibilities, he is the most frequent blogger for their website. Guzzardi is a talented writer and quite knowledgeable about immigration, so he is always worth reading. Yet, it doesn’t much matter because no one is reading him, as all his work is on the uniquely unpopular CAPS site. If he were writing for VDare (like he used to), his readership would multiply by a factor of hundreds if not thousands. That is to say, if Guzzardi were paid the exact same salary, but by one organization instead of another (VDare instead of CAPS), the impact of the power of his arguments for less immigration would immensely increase, and at no greater cost to donors.
To those who would say that CAPS is important because their environmental focus can serve as a bridge to progressives who could potentially be swayed to an immigration-restrictionist position, I say: get real.
The environmental reasons for limiting population growth, whether through immigration or otherwise, are obvious. Progressives are either aware of them and don’t care, or choose to be oblivious of them. The unambiguous zeitgeist of the contemporary left is egalitarianism. There is no “wedge issue” that can displace a zeitgeist. The handful of leftists who, to any degree, prioritized the environment and/or stable wages over immigration either went, or are going, nowhere: Eugene McCarthy, Ralph Nader, Richard Lamm, etc.
And if I am wrong, and environmentalism is in fact a perspective from which to convince leftists to support building the wall, CAPS is not the group to do it. Far too many of their writers have written for racialist websites: John Vinson, Otis Graham, and Joe Guzzardi to name three of the more prominent examples. They have also (accidentally, they claim) employed identitarians who they subsequently fired in a desperate attempt to save their reputation. But whatever good reputation they had is gone. No leftist is ever going to give the benefit of the doubt to an organization now labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. To be effective, any push to make environmentalists reconsider immigration is going to need to start fresh with a clean slate.
Unfortunately, this is likely all but a dream. CAPS will almost certainly carry on for years and years to come, burning through one million dollars a year with almost nothing to show for it.