I wrote a review of Matt Yglesias’s recent book One Billion Americans for the LA Review of Books. Check it out.

Excerpt:

One Billion Americans has a lot of excellent policy ideas: increasing the American population through Yglesias’s prescriptive policies would be beneficial and morally just. And the advantages of population growth themselves should be given more attention. But for those already in agreement with Yglesias, it’s difficult to find much fundamentally new in his arguments or framing. For those in opposition, the book is unlikely to convert.

Yglesias waffles between arguments he believes are pragmatic and those that are encouraging “thinking bigger.” Both of these have value, but he switches between them at random times, operating seemingly at whatever level is the path of least resistance. Are we meant to take his idea of a billion Americans seriously but not literally? His ideas can support a much higher population even if it’s not a billion, but he struggles to establish when it’s time to think pragmatically and when to just think bigger.?