‘One Billion Americans’ author Matt Yglesias on increasing immigration, encouraging larger families, and why he signed the ‘infamous Harper’s letter’

Matt Yglesias is a founder of the newsplainer site Vox, a long-time policy wonk, and a pugilist on Twitter.

He’s also the author of the new book, “One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger,” in which he argues for massively increasing the population as the best method to maintain global economic dominance and keep China from overtaking the US.

Yglesias spoke this week by phone with Business Insider columnist Anthony Fisher about new approaches to immigration, using the government to encourage larger families, and holding an election during an economic disaster.

During their conversation, which has been edited for clarity and length, they also talked about why Yglesias signed the “infamous Harper’s letter,” which caused a stir in June over free speech and the limits of acceptable discourse, including at Vox.

Anthony Fisher: More than anything, the book feels like a policy argument in favor of mass immigration. There’s a lot of stuff about encouraging procreation through increasing family benefits, but what’s the elevator pitch for adding 700 million Americans?

Matt Yglesias: The United States is increasingly engaged in a kind of international competition with China. Politicians in both major parties are talking about it. And if you ask yourself, “Why is China a major force on the international stage?,” it’s primarily because their population is so much larger than ours.

The elevator pitch of the book is, we should try to close that gap, and we should close it by both of the major means available. By doing more to support parents and children here at home and by doing more to accept immigrants from around the world.

There are some questions raised downstream about housing and transportation, and the book is about going through those and showing how we could deal with those problems and emerge, not just as a stronger country in the aggregate, but also a richer, more prosperous, and, in a lot of ways, a more fulfilling country.

By Anthony L. Fisher for BUSINESS INSIDER
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