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A Case for One Billion Americans? | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on January 19, 2021

We now must confront a problem. If Yglesias recognizes the value of free choice in these instances, how does he reconcile this with his support for planning to maintain American world hegemony? I do not know the answer, but I’d like to offer a suggestion. He seems very well-versed in Chicago price theory, and, as Murray Rothbard pointed out, Chicago economists often do not regard taxation as interference with the price-system. Given this position, they can in their own minds consistently oppose price controls but support redistributive taxation. I don’t know whether Yglesias holds to this doctrine, but if so, it would make what he says in the book more coherent.

https://mises.org/wire/case-one-billion-americans

David Gordon

One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger
by Matthew Yglesias
Portfolio Penguin, 2020
xx + 267 pages

Matthew Yglesias, a cofounder of Vox and frequent writer for it, has some useful insights in this book. But he perfectly exemplifies a type of mind that is capable of doing great damage. I hesitate to say this, as he seems engaging and intelligent, but the evidence is unmistakable. He is a statist and planner, who sees his goal for America as obviously true. He fully recognizes the controversial nature of some of the measures he favors to achieve his goal, and he will be glad to debate you about their merits; but practically all Americans, he thinks, accept this goal.

The goal is to keep America as the most powerful nation in the world. He says,

The United States has been the number one power in the world throughout my entire lifetime and throughout the living memory of essentially everyone on the planet today. The notion that this state of affairs is desirable and ought to persist is one of the least controversial things you could say in American politics today…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. (p. xiv)

What happens if we are not the world hegemon? Isn’t it enough that people can live their lives in peace, defending ourselves only if we are invaded by another nation? Indeed, isn’t it wrong for any nation, even America, to rule over other nations?

Oddly enough given his goal, Yglesias recognizes that some things that go on in foreign countries aren’t our business, and he favors reducing American military spending. He says,

Military defense is an important national task, but a very large share of this money seems to be spent on things like prolonged deployments to the Middle East that are only tangentially related to actually defending the country—or even to defending reliable allies….When something bad is happening somewhere in the world—Libya, Syria, whatever—there is often a sense that the United States perhaps ought to “do something” about it. Nobody expects Chile or Singapore to “do something” about foreign civil wars because there is nothing they can do. But the American military is vast enough that we can, in fact, intervene—albeit at additional cost. If these interventions were systematically helpful, it might be a good reason to maintain such a large defense establishment. But the cost-benefit ratio of trying to help foreigners through military intervention is miserable—indeed, it’s difficult to ascertain whether the trillions spent on twentieth-first-century wars have been helpful on net at all. (pp. 248–49)

Has Yglesias changed from an ultrahawk at the beginning of the book to a benevolent noninterventionist near the book’s end? Alas, his conversion is incomplete: we must limit wasteful military spending so that we can concentrate on a confrontation with our main enemy, China. Why China is a threat to us is nowhere explained. The principal sin of its government is that it seeks to unseat us as the world’s foremost power, and we cannot have that, can we?

Yglesias acknowledges that China’s ascendancy would not pose a direct threat to America, but nevertheless it cannot be accepted. Never mind why.

And, obviously, even if China were to become a greater military power, it’s not as if we’d have Chinese tanks rolling down the streets of Washington. . .But American leaders, with good reason, aren’t talking about learning to adapt to a world where the United States is a second-rate power. (p. xvii) 

But even if we accept Yglesias’s goal, aren’t we relatively safe? Isn’t America much richer than China? Yes, says Yglesias, at least for now, but China has an advantage over us that wealth alone will not suffice to counter. Our author thinks that history is on the side of the big battalions, and that we will succumb unless we can counter China’s superior population. If we want to maintain American hegemony, “we’re going to need more people—about a billion people—and then follow that inference to where it leads in terms of immigration, family policy and the welfare state, housing, transportation, and more” (p. xiv).

For Yglesias, strong government isn’t the problem: it’s usually the solution. At one point, I thought I had misjudged him. A section heading in the chapter “Comeback Cities” reads. “Decentralize the federal government.” Has he for once abandoned centralism for localism? You will not be surprised to learn that he hasn’t. He doesn’t mean that he wants the have the states, or even better, local government, take over the functions of our bloated Leviathan. To the contrary, he wants to move parts of the federal government to areas he considers underpopulated to encourage people to settle there. “The key point is to identify cities that, like Detroit or Cleveland, are currently overbuilt from the standpoint of housing stock and infrastructure—cheap rents, few traffic jams, airports that are operating below their historical capacity—and provide them with the biggest thing they need to succeed, an infusion of new jobs and people” (pp. 168–69).

One could proceed by giving more examples of the author’s compulsion to plan our lives, but, with characteristic generosity, I won’t do that. Instead, I’ll give some examples in which he makes sense by actually proposing to ease the iron grip of government. In line with his support of large numbers of people in small spaces, he opposes land-use regulations that use force to keep people living apart. “The vast majority of America’s developed land is zoned exclusively for single-family detached homes. That’s true not just in suburbs, but in central cities….Obviously if you make it illegal to deploy the best available technology for conquering land scarcity, then land scarcity will become a serious problem” (p. 194). In a brilliant passage, he points out that many people like single-family homes but “just because something is desirable doesn’t mean it makes sense to require it—a concept American policy makers have little trouble grasping in almost any context other than housing” (p. 197, emphasis in original).

He calls for easing the licensing requirements to practice medicine:

As Dean Baker, the idiosyncratic left-wing economist who’s been writing about this issue for years explains, “Currently, foreign doctors are banned from practicing unless they complete a U.S. residency program. Foreign dentists are prohibited from practicing in the United States unless they graduate from a U.S. dental school.”…a sensible approach would be to establish some clear objective training standards and then allow anyone who can meet them to practice in the United States…simply increasing the supply of doctors would make getting treatment easier and more convenient for everyone—a clear win. (pp. 127–28)

We now must confront a problem. If Yglesias recognizes the value of free choice in these instances, how does he reconcile this with his support for planning to maintain American world hegemony? I do not know the answer, but I’d like to offer a suggestion. He seems very well-versed in Chicago price theory, and, as Murray Rothbard pointed out, Chicago economists often do not regard taxation as interference with the price-system. Given this position, they can in their own minds consistently oppose price controls but support redistributive taxation. I don’t know whether Yglesias holds to this doctrine, but if so, it would make what he says in the book more coherent.

And support heavy taxation he certainly does. Faced with the not insignificant question of how his ambitious plans are to be financed, he answers that “to the extent we need higher taxes, it makes sense to tax things we would like to see less of. One set of popular options involves increasing taxes on the wealthy….The other big source of potential tax revenue is taxing bad things” (pp. 248–49). The “bad thing” he has principally in mind is alcohol consumption. It doesn’t interfere with freedom if the government makes consumption of goods it doesn’t like much more difficult: it isn’t forbidding people to consume them. Such pettifoggery ill serves the cause of freedom, but it may well be useful in the global crusade against China. Author:

Contact David Gordon

David Gordon is Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute and editor of the Mises Review.

Be seeing you

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666,666,666 Immigrants – Taki’s Magazine – Taki’s Magazine

Posted by M. C. on September 24, 2020

Now Democrats envision using immigration to alter the racial balance to achieve perpetual one-party rule.

One obvious problem with this plan, however, is that all the immigrant ethnicities would then turn on each other in a struggle to control the capital of the world. Why compete with the United State militarily if you can use your co-ethnic immigrants to simply subvert the USA from within (such as this week’s example of an immigrant NYPD officer arrested for spying for China on Tibetan exiles), especially if Washington were so foolish as to invite in two-thirds of a billion immigrants?

https://www.takimag.com/article/666666666-immigrants/print

Center-left Vox pundit Matthew Yglesias’ new book One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger is actually two contradictory polemics. The book is both a sensible call for making family formation more affordable for younger Americans, and a demented demand for tripling the population of the United States (currently one-third of a billion) via immigration, thus ruining the chances of tens of millions of actual Americans to afford marriage and children.

There’s really no way to reconcile Yglesias’ two requests:

—We should figure out smart ways to make life a little less stressful for Americans so they can have children as well as careers; and

—We should also encourage the rest of the world to crowd into the U.S. and horn in on the birthrights of American citizens.

Yglesias’ main argument for adding 666,666,666 immigrants is that this would help us compete with populous China.

In short, Yglesias seems to imply, America must invite the world in order to invade the world.

Just think of the possibilities! If we had two-thirds of a billion more immigrants, we could conscript a humongous army and militarily conquer the world…which would finally give us some place to dump all the teeming masses of immigrants.

Seriously, Yglesias argues, we couldn’t have won WWII or the Cold War without a big population.

Of course, mid-20th-century USA was far more unified, due to the immigration shutdown in the 1920s that wisely ruled that no interest groups would be allowed to use immigration to change the country’s ethnic balance. Hence, the political system was more cooperative and functional than today when Democratic pundits like Yglesias’ partner at Vox Ezra Klein alternate between boasting that immigration will bury whiteness and complaining that whites are paranoid about being replaced.

Now Democrats envision using immigration to alter the racial balance to achieve perpetual one-party rule.

One obvious problem with this plan, however, is that all the immigrant ethnicities would then turn on each other in a struggle to control the capital of the world. Why compete with the United State militarily if you can use your co-ethnic immigrants to simply subvert the USA from within (such as this week’s example of an immigrant NYPD officer arrested for spying for China on Tibetan exiles), especially if Washington were so foolish as to invite in two-thirds of a billion immigrants?

 

Germany would have liked to do that using German immigrants in 1917, but the self-righteous WASP ruling class proactively crushed any German-American resistance with heavy-handed assimilation methods, such as banning Beethoven concerts.

But these days the Chinese are slowly learning how to play the White Guilt card against America. In an era when extirpating the vanishing phenomenon of White Privilege obsesses the American establishment, it’s inconceivable that we would take effective steps to Americanize the tens of millions of new Chinese immigrants. Always remember, diversity is our strength! Foreigners are who we are.

So, how American are these One Billion going to be?

“‘In short, Yglesias seems to imply, America must invite the world in order to invade the world.”

The Democrats haven’t dreamed up any strategy for keeping their United States of Diversity from turning into a circular firing squad other than to scream ever harder at white men as the designated scapegoats.

Indeed, one reason for this summer’s mania over whites supposedly oppressing blacks is because blacks vaguely realize that the white man’s days are numbered due to immigration. Once the immigrants take over, nobody will take seriously anymore African-Americans’ sad stories about George Floyd, redlining, and Emmett Till. So blacks had better guilt-trip whites fast into making expensive concessions because the next rulers of America sure aren’t going to fall for black tears.

 

One phenomenon that is readily apparent in this book is that progressives are getting more ignorant about recent history as their movement has become more obsessed with the white man’s crimes of the increasingly distant past.

For example, in arguing that supply and demand doesn’t apply to immigration economics, Yglesias asserts that the ending of the bracero program for importing Mexican migrant farmworkers in 1964 had no impact on wages. In reality, this liberal triumph (set in motion by Edward R. Murrow’s 1960 Harvest of Shame muckraking documentary) allowed Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers union to emerge in 1965 as a potent force for higher wages in California’s fields.

Liberals used to know about Cesar Chavez. Now, apparently, they don’t.

Similarly, Yglesias devotes seven pages to the tedious academic dispute over economist David Card’s study that showed that wages in Miami did not drop after the May 1980 Mariel boat-lift of Cuban refugees into the city increased the labor supply.

But he never mentions what I’ve been rudely pointing out to economists since 2006. Miami simultaneously received one of the most potent economic stimuli ever: the 1980–1984 cocaine trafficking boom made world-famous in Scarface and on Miami Vice. Economic studies require that “all else be equal,” but nothing was ever equal to Miami’s cocaine bubble during Card’s study.

Surprisingly, Yglesias returns time and again to the nagging problem that more immigrants equal more greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, most progressives have simply ignored the mathematical inevitability that increasing the U.S. population by importing poor people will increase climate-change emissions.

Americans pump out about four times as much carbon emissions per capita as even car-crazy Mexicans, and ten times or more as much as a typical Third Worlder. So if Americans currently contribute 14% of the world’s greenhouse gases, tripling the population through immigration would, if the immigrants assimilate economically, increase global emissions by about 25%, which to Vox readers ought to sound like the end of the world. The author labors mightily but can’t overcome this simple arithmetic.

On the other hand, Yglesias barely deigns to acknowledge that massive immigration would almost certainly worsen inequality, which is why billionaires tend to be so enthusiastic for it.

The better part of One Billion Americans is about how to reverse the declining fertility of American citizens. It’s not as complete as Jonathan V. Last’s 2013 book What to Expect When No One’s Expecting, but offers a good start on the subject.

The total fertility rate for American women was dropping even during the Trump Boom before the pandemic, down to a below replacement rate of 1.72 children per woman in 2018. And yet when asked how many children they’d like to have, women and men both average about 2.6.

Clearly, America is suffering from economic, political, and cultural problems that are keeping Americans from achieving parenthood to the extent that they would prefer.

The most obvious reason American fertility is below replacement level is one that Elizabeth Warren pointed out in her 2003 book The Two-Income Trap: The traditional basics of American middle-class family life—a house with a yard in a satisfactory public school district—have grown increasingly expensive.

Why? Because supply has not kept up with demand. Read the rest of this entry »

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