One Billion Americans

The Case for Thinking Bigger

Matthew Yglesias

Portfolio, September 2020

What would actually make America great: more people.
If the most challenging crisis in living memory has shown us anything, it’s that America has lost the will and the means to lead. We can’t compete with the huge population clusters of the global marketplace by keeping our population static or letting it diminish, or with our crumbling transit and unaffordable housing. The winner in the future world is going to have more—more ideas, more ambition, more utilization of resources, more people.

Exactly how many Americans do we need to win? According to Matthew Yglesias, one billion.

From one of our foremost policy writers, One Billion Americans is the provocative yet logical argument that if we aren’t moving forward, we’re losing. Vox founder Yglesias invites us to think bigger, while taking the problems of decline seriously. What really contributes to national prosperity should not be controversial: supporting parents and children, welcoming immigrants and their contributions, and exploring creative policies that support growth—like more housing, better transportation, improved education, revitalized welfare, and climate change mitigation. Drawing on examples and solutions from around the world, Yglesias shows not only that we can do this, but why we must.

Making the case for massive population growth with analytic rigor and imagination, One Billion Americans issues a radical but undeniable challenge: Why not do it all, and stay on top forever?

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About the Author

Matthew Yglesias co-founded with Ezra Klein and Melissa Bell in 2014. Now a senior Vox correspondent focused on politics and economic policy, he co-hosts “The Weeds” podcast twice a week. He is the author of two previous books, most recently The Rent Is Too Damn High. Born and raised in New York City, he resides in Washington D.C. with his family.