Yglesias Makes a Loopy Proposal

The Quote Below – More Misinformation from the Media:

“The United States is not ‘full.’ In fact, it is empty. Right now, the country has about 93 people per square mile. Many, many countries are far denser than this, and not just city-states like Singapore (more than 20,000 per square mile) or small island nations like Malta (3,913 per square mile). South Korea has 1,337 people per square mile, and Belgium has 976. . . .

“But while contemporary politics is terrifying in certain ways, it has also opened up again the possibility of goals, and projects, and ideas — probably the biggest opportunity in a generation for new ideas to take hold. So here is one big one: a billion Americans. . . .

“The solution to the illegal immigration crisis is to let more people come legally. Immigrants of virtually all stripes may look like a threat to some xenophobic Americans, but they make native-born Americans richer and fuel the kinds of innovation that can help the country grow. . . .

“Admittedly, it sounds a little loopy. But while some left-wing intellectuals might suggest that the end of American hegemony would be desirable, I’ve never heard an elected official from either party articulate that view. And America should aspire to be the greatest nation on earth. In part, that’s because our main rival is not something cuddly like a hypothetical version of the European Union or a nonhierarchical world order but the People’s Republic of China, a country that’s aggressively using its commercial clout to try to silence critics abroad, conducting egregious human-rights abuses against its Uighur minority, and cracking down on freedoms in Hong Kong. . . .

“Of course, tripling the population could also cause a number of problems. Traffic jams could get worse. Rent could go up. Water access would be stretched thinner. There’d be more pollution. These are, unfortunately, real concerns. . . . But think of how much healthier our politics would be if there were really a debate about how to accomplish great things. . . .

“Whatever liberals’ misgivings about this national project, America should aspire to be the greatest nation on earth. . . .” – The Case for Adding 672 Million More Americans, Matthew Yglesias, New York Times Magazine, 8/31/20 [Link]

Fact Check of Above Quote: The United States is plenty full in terms of our heritage as a nation of wide-open spaces. Other countries may feel content with higher population densities, but they should not set our standards. Yes, we have large areas of low population, but due to aridity and terrain they simply can’t support many people. In places where lots of people can and want to live we’re pretty densely packed.

Yglesias concedes that skyrocketing our population “could” cause some problems, but he says not to worry because everything will work out fine if we just pursue some flighty notion of “greatness.” What we should do is look at the practical examples of other countries, namely India and China, that have already reached and exceeded the one-billion mark. Both countries are ecological disasters where key resources like water are depleted. Their major cities are jam-packed human anthills.

Is this the kind of “greatness” we want? We still have time to avoid it if we so choose, and one way to do so is limiting immigration. Yglesias apparently equates greatness with the U.S. being the world’s dominant military power. To do so, he claims, we must have a population al least approaching the size of China’s, our most likely geopolitical rival.

This analysis is unconvincing. It assumes that we must try to dominate the world, rather than try to co-exist with other powers. The aim to dominate increases the likelihood of war—not a good idea with a nuclear-armed China. In any case, adding a huge new population, primarily through immigration, will make us much weaker as a country. Despite all the propaganda, diversity isn’t our strength, and the diversity of one-billion inhabitants would divide us to the breaking point.

The notion that we need massive immigration for innovation and national power is absurd. Between 1924 and 1965 we significantly limited immigration. That time frame marked the greatest innovation in our history as we advanced from propeller-driven bi-planes to moon rockets. In the 1940s our manufacturing gave the Allies the edge to win World War II.

Yglesias admits that his proposal to add 672 million more Americans “sounds loopy.” The reason it sounds loopy is because it is loopy.


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