Very excited to get my first review, from Kirkus, and even more excited that the review is positive — got the coveted Kirkus star and they say "the book is packed full of provocative ideas well worth considering."
Naturally, I agree!
An argument that blends demography, economics, and politics to suggest a way to maintain America’s great-power status in the 21st century.
It’s enough to make a zero population growth advocate faint. Vox co-founder and editor Yglesias proposes that the only way to keep China at bay is to beat the Chinese at their own game, growing a population of 1 billion Americans. But how? One ingredient is a far more liberal immigration policy: “The solution to the illegal immigration crisis is to let more people come legally, not tie ourselves into knots trying to stop the flow.” Another ingredient is a massive expansion of the social welfare state to allow for such things as family leave and tax concessions. And what of already overcrowded American cities and their minuscule amounts of affordable housing stock? It’s the last matter at which the author’s argument really takes off. He offers a well-deliberated critique of housing policies that he does not hesitate to call racist, policies that forbid the construction of multiple-family dwellings in suburban and exurban areas. Yglesias proposes that immigrants be encouraged to live in uncrowded cities in the interior, bringing new vigor to American places that lack cultural or economic life. Still, the author is a celebrant of the metropolis, noting that, for instance, if a given town builds a base to accommodate 30 restaurants, “not only do you get specialization, you get competition—two different burger joints offering a slightly different approach”—as well as “a deeper labor market.” However, won’t 1 billion people crowd out nature, farms, etc.? In his proposed scenario, the density of the lower 48 states would be 3.5 times lower than England today, resembling France more than overstuffed Holland or Italy. He sees nothing but economic good in population growth. “A bigger country will need a lot of new stuff,” he writes. “So will a zero-carbon economy.”The thesis is eminently arguable, but the book is packed full of provocative ideas well worth considering.
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