Opinion The case for more — many more — Americans, explained

15:15  25 september  2020
15:15  25 september  2020 Source:   vox.com

House to vote on measure condemning anti-Asian discrimination amid the COVID-19 pandemic

  House to vote on measure condemning anti-Asian discrimination amid the COVID-19 pandemic Increased numbers of Asian Americans have reported harassment, stigma, and even physical assaults amid inflammatory rhetoric about COVID-19.WATCH: Gas pipeline explosion sparks raging fire in Oklahoma

I want six kids.

a group of people walking down the street in front of a crowd: Times Square, New York City © Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images Times Square, New York City

It is this, of all my various eccentricities, in which I feel most utterly alone when I listen to conversations about public policy. Progressive America no longer has much of a social script for people who want big families. Wanting lots of children is called selfish, stupid, fanatical. Religious conservatives seem to be America’s only interest group that reliably comes out in favor of people choosing to have big families — but I’m a polyamorous atheist lesbian co-raising my two kids with three other committed co-parents, and religious conservatives have no interest in building an America with families that look like mine.

For Republicans, the Fires Change Nothing

  For Republicans, the Fires Change Nothing Climate change’s destructive power represents an irresistible force for action. But it’s colliding with an immovable object.“Yes, absolutely,” she told me earlier this week, when I asked her whether this year’s fires are the most tangible danger to California that she’s seen from climate change. “It’s not suddenly going to reverse itself …  to years when there’s no fire season, or it’s not going to happen until October. The changes are going to be real, and they are going to be long-lasting.

It’s into this void that my colleague Matt Yglesias’s new book, One Billion Americans, most powerfully steps. It’s a book that asserts that it’s good, actually, when there are lots of people in the United States. It’s good for those people, who will be richer and live deeper, more diverse, more interesting lives. It’s good for our country, which, Yglesias argues, benefits from its large population when it tries to provide economic and political incentives for freedom and democracy. It will mean we don’t cede the future of the world to China, which is currently engaged in brutal ethnic repression and which has shredded earlier hopes that it might politically liberalize.

Chief Justice Roberts’s lifelong crusade against voting rights, explained

  Chief Justice Roberts’s lifelong crusade against voting rights, explained He has fought to undermine voting rights his entire career.It was 1981. Roberts had just completed a prestigious clerkship with Justice William Rehnquist — then the most conservative judge to serve on the Supreme Court in decades — and, as an aide to Attorney General William French Smith, Roberts was tasked with making the case against one of the most consequential voting rights laws in the nation’s history.

If you survey Americans about how many children they want, on average they say about 2.5. That includes the ones like me who want six and the ones who want zero. But while people want 2.5 kids on average, in practice they have fewer — about 1.72 in 2018, the book says. Increasing America’s population needn’t involve regression from modern liberal ideas. It would just require making it possible for people to get the thing that they already want.

The book’s proposed policy changes are mostly nudges at the margins — more immigration but not open borders, an expansion of public education to also provide free preschool and day care, subsidies and tax credits for parents, fixes to our housing and transportation policy so the cost of living isn’t intolerable.

Despite its simplicity — maybe because of its simplicity — it’s compelling. Matt Yglesias thinks America is good and it’d be good if everyone who’d benefit the country was allowed to live here and everyone who lived here was able to have their ideal family size. And while that simple vision elides a lot of challenges — some of which are beyond its scope — its vision of America is at least worth rooting for.

AOC and Schumer say 'all options are on the table' to stall nomination

  AOC and Schumer say 'all options are on the table' to stall nomination AOC and Schumer joined forces for a press conference Sunday night outside James Madison High School in Brooklyn, to warn that Americans' rights are at risk if Trump appoints a justice.AOC and Schumer joined forces for a press conference Sunday night outside James Madison High School in Brooklyn, that both Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Schumer attended.

The following conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Kelsey Piper

Why should we have a billion Americans?

Matt Yglesias

We should have a billion Americans for two big reasons. One is that in a globe of international competition, it’s good to be a big country as well as a wealthy country. And the United States has historically benefited from having a large population relative to a lot of its competitors.

And then the other reason we should have a billion Americans is that it will make this country a better place. The steps we need to take to get there will improve the country and make us richer as well as larger.

Kelsey Piper

You talk a lot about international competition in this book. What can we expect from US/China relations for the next like 20 years?

Matt Yglesias

I think 20 years ago, there was a lot of optimism that economic growth and economic integration would naturally lead to a liberalization of their political system. We’ve now seen that that’s really not true. They have become, if anything, more repressive domestically, more aggressive in their relationship with other powers around the world. And they’ve also started aggressively using economic interconnection to sort of export their values, censor western movies, and put pressure on American celebrities and athletes to stay silent about human rights abuses there.

Andrew Yang says defeating Trump could be 'the major political awakening that Asian Americans have been waiting for'

  Andrew Yang says defeating Trump could be 'the major political awakening that Asian Americans have been waiting for' Yang rallied Asian Americans to support Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and match the political engagement of, "frankly, people in other communities.""If we get out in force and help Joe and Kamala win, this could be the major political awakening that Asian Americans have been waiting for a generation or more," Yang said Monday night in a virtual fundraiser for Asian Americans Against Trump.

I’m not a militaristic person or fan of international conflict, but I think that we want to clearly put distance between ourselves and them as the world’s number one economic power so that decisions we make about free speech and other things carry the most weight in the world if companies need to pick between the American market and the Chinese market. We want America to stay number one, as it has been for a long time, because this country, for all its flaws there’s a world of difference between the American constitutional system and human rights practices over there.

Kelsey Piper

I totally agree with that. I’m curious if you’ve gotten pushback on it, or there are people who respond to this by saying “Oh, you know, we have shortcomings as a country, China has shortcomings in the country, American greatness isn’t something I feel unconflicted about pushing for.”

Matt Yglesias

You know, what’s interesting is that there’s very few people who actually say that the problems or the systems are equivalent. What is true, is that there’s some people who just don’t like the idea of politics that they see as stoking nationalism or appealing to patriotism.

Aggressive militarism, I think, is quite bad, and has been a problem for American foreign policy in the fairly recent past. But a healthy sense of pride in what’s good about one’s country and the desire to see it succeed doesn’t have to be that.

'This city has failed us': Louisville protesters angered over lack of indictments in Breonna Taylor case

  'This city has failed us': Louisville protesters angered over lack of indictments in Breonna Taylor case Protesters marched through Louisville after a grand jury declined to indict two of three police officers involved in Breonna Taylor's death.Thousands line up to see Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lie in repose outside Supreme Court

One thing that makes America different from some of the other countries that I find right now admirable is that America has built into its national story and its national identity a certain kind of expansiveness. People from all around the world have moved here historically and become American.

Kelsey Piper

I’m curious from what directions you’ve gotten pushback about this book. What are the main lines of disagreement you’ve run into?

Matt Yglesias

So one school of thought — Felix Salmon said this — he thought the whole pot was unnecessary, but the specific policy ideas mostly seemed really good to him. He didn’t get why you’d frame them around one billion Americans. And some people are harsher — they say, “No, this is bad. That this kind of national vision is pernicious, and masks neoliberal machinations.”

The specific ideas here are mostly straight out of the progressive toolkit. Yet a number of people on the right have said, “I like this idea. A lot. I have some disagreements about the particulars.” And that’s great. That’s what you have politics for, to some extent. I feel like we could have a much healthier American politics built around a consensus that we are not going to engage in military adventurism, but we’re also not going to just accept national decline. We need more people, we need more growth. And now we’re going to talk about the details: How should immigration work? How should a welfare state be designed to support that? How should we adjust our housing and infrastructure policies?

That to me feels very hopeful and optimistic. And I hope more people on the left will read some of the coverage on the right, and see that there’s something to the idea of speaking the language of national greatness, as an aspect of one’s political practice.

Fact checking 8 myths in Breonna Taylor case: Was she asleep when police shot her? Is there body-cam footage?

  Fact checking 8 myths in Breonna Taylor case: Was she asleep when police shot her? Is there body-cam footage? We gathered the facts based on public records, official statements and interviews with witnesses and people close to the case to knock down myths.Trump blasts China in speech before United Nations General Assembly

Kelsey Piper

Another direction from which I’ve seen some pushback is that it seems like a lot of progressives just don’t totally believe that there being more people is good, for environmental reasons or the ways it’s tied to American hegemony.

Matt Yglesias

I think there are two big disagreements. One is just philosophically, is more people better, or not? And I think it is right, but I don’t have a prolonged defense of this in the book. It’s a big issue people talk about in the in the moral philosophy world. But I think a universe of seven really happy people all being treated really fairly, is worse than a thriving planet of 7 billion, even if some of those 7 billion people are living in worse conditions than what existed in the seven.

The other [disagreement] is the extreme of eco-pessimism. If you look at what is the actual public policy of the United States of America, climate change is a much more serious problem than our current policy makes it seem. We should be doing a lot more than we actually are. It is a much bigger deal than it’s treated as.

At the same time, if you ignore actual policy, and you just look at takes written ... it’s not as bad as they say. I don’t want to “both sides” it — actual public policy is really important here. But we’re not teetering on the brink of human extinction.

We should do a lot to address climate change. But we shouldn’t prevent poor countries from becoming richer, we shouldn’t prevent poor people from moving to opportunity, and we shouldn’t prevent people from having children. We should try to develop and deploy cleaner ways of making electricity.

The United States is actually one of the countries that is best situated to weather a change in the climate. I don’t want to downplay the sort of costs and problems that we face. But compared to a tropical country or more agricultural country, we are better situated to withstand changes. So us being open to people moving here from around the world is actually a major contribution that we make to the adaptation side of climate change.

Grand juror sues for release of transcript in Breonna Taylor case, wants public to know 'full story and absolute truth'

  Grand juror sues for release of transcript in Breonna Taylor case, wants public to know 'full story and absolute truth' The grand juror is not named in the filing, seeking only to have the proceedings disclosed so that "the truth may prevail," they wrote.Rochester Mayor appoints new interim police chief

Kelsey Piper

So one doubt I had about a bunch of the prescriptions in One Billion Americans is that a lot of countries in Europe have kind of desperately tried various stuff at this rate to get their birth rates up. But it mostly hasn’t worked. Their birth rates are mostly still well below two. Why do you think we could make that work here?

Matt Yglesias

I think the evidence is that pronatalist policies do work, that they elevate birth rates above what they would otherwise be. If you look at the Nordic countries, people have more children there than the people in the sort of Southern European, Latin Europe countries. And that’s because of the sort of, you know, welfare state stuff that they’re famous for them there.

At the same time, obviously, religion is a dominant factor here. We have more children than Europeans, because we are a more religious country. If you look in the United States, religious people have more children than non-religious people.

We’re talking about change at the margin, not a giant change. And I think the evidence supports the idea that, you know, if we paid a child allowance, if we made more provision for preschool, if we did more to help out with summer programming and other things like that, people would go from one to two kids, to two to three kids. We’re talking on the margin. But margins matter when you’re talking about population growth, compounding.

Kelsey Piper

Another hesitation I had about the book was that, in some ways, it felt like it was assuming a 21st century that would look a lot like the 20th century in terms of nation states as the big drivers of policy and change, and in terms of where people physically live mattering a lot. And as you know, I’m a little bit more inclined to think this century will see transformative technological change.

Matt Yglesias

One thing I think is that the less we know about exactly what’s going to be important in the future, the more we can say that being a big, prosperous country is a kind of general purpose toolkit right now.

For one example [of a specific vision of how the 21st century will play out], I think the conventional wisdom among military people is that aircraft carriers are really important. And even though the US and Chinese economies are pretty close, we have a huge lead in aircraft carriers. So if you think aircraft carriers will be all that matters forever, you might say, “Look, this is fine. We’ve got a big lead and naval aviation, we can double down on that. We have allies who we can share aircraft carrier technology with, like, we can just like ride naval aviation until the end.”

If we’re not confident [that we know what we’re going to need to survive the 21st century], we can still say that having more scientists and more people, and having kids who are healthy and stuff like that, that’s probably going to matter, probably going to be useful for whatever comes next.

So, you know, I think we should take uncertainty about the future in some ways more seriously than the foreign policy specialists do. And think more about the underlying wellsprings of national strength and a little less about the specific modalities of diplomacy and military.

The fundamentals of national health — a large and growing population, people coming there and integrating — if you can’t say for sure what’s going to happen, you want to sort of boil down to the most generic attribute of national strength that you can think of, and make sure you’re paying attention to it.

Kelsey Piper

And that’s how many people we have.

Matt Yglesias

Yeah, I think that’s about it. How many people you have, how advanced your technology is. How happy people are is of course also important.

Kelsey Piper

Something that spoke to me about your book was that I’ve mostly only encountered pro-natalism from the conservative side of the aisle. And that’s often religious conservatives — and I’m gay, and they are not interested in supporting the formation or thriving of families like mine at all. So this book is sort of great as a progressive vision of a good future where lots of kids are growing up.

Matt Yglesias

Yeah. I mean, I think, you know, we want that Secular minded people have children. Lots of gay people have children. I mean, there are also gay people who are religious.

When you look at the policy detail, progressives generally want to be more supportive of families with children — they have a raft of bills, sitting around in congressional Democrats’ offices about parental leave and prenatal care and pre-K and child allowances and things like that.

But then there’s a reluctance to say that one of the reasons all this is a good idea is because it’s nice to see people having happy, thriving families. You have to keep saying, “I’m not talking about Handmaid’s Tale or crazy programs to pressure people into having more children.” People mostly want to have two or three children. And it’s really difficult.

It’s, of course ,most difficult for poor people. But we shouldn’t treat it strictly as a poverty issue. Because, you know, people would like to have children, but they also don’t want to have their standard of living completely on the table when they do that. When we think about preschool, I think we should think about it not as a sharply means-tested program for the people who absolutely couldn’t afford it, but as something that is good and important, because we want to support a society in which people have kids.

Sign up for the Future Perfect newsletter. Twice a week, you’ll get a roundup of ideas and solutions for tackling our biggest challenges: improving public health, decreasing human and animal suffering, easing catastrophic risks, and — to put it simply — getting better at doing good.11

Grand juror sues for release of transcript in Breonna Taylor case, wants public to know 'full story and absolute truth' .
The grand juror is not named in the filing, seeking only to have the proceedings disclosed so that "the truth may prevail," they wrote.Rochester Mayor appoints new interim police chief

usr: 0
This is interesting!