Joel Kotkin argues in The Next Hundred Million that the United States adding another hundred million people by 2050, but unlike many he thinks that our country can handle the population increase. Thoughts below:
- Kotkin believes wholeheartedly I guess that we will absorb this next round of immigration by being relentlessly centrist. He critiques the extremes on both sides, and sees a smartly-regulated suburbia as our future.
- He also sees this future as being based in the United States because he sees us as being resource-rich and essentially optimistic. I hope that his optimism survived the rabid squirrels that mark Trump.
- Kotkin is an economist by trade, and he relentlessly pours through demographic data to come up with his conclusions. He seems to be uncertain as to why people could come to other conclusions…
- He’s sort of Panglossian, but I admire that – it’s way easier to blow up the world metaphorically, I think, then to propose solutions.
- The problem is that the solutions are a bit shallow – they are deeply grounded in solutions that he sees as human-centered, but there’s not much there yet in terms of actual policy proposals that are located in local government. He does advocate for local control, so maybe that’s why.
- He’s so immersed in data that his argument seems to lack emotional intelligence. That may not be fair – in person he might be remarkably emotionally intelligent – but this look at the future is devoid of much in the ways of story-telling. If he had added story-telling then the book would have doubled in size, but that might have been worth it.
- In particular his story examples feel cherry-picked a bit. He often uses one author or figure to represent a very wide range of thought, and the person he peaks is ridiculously extreme. For instance, to criticize environmentalism he quotes Paul Watson, who is definitely not a scientist.
- Thus the book often takes on a scolding tone. I guess if he thinks we’re going to make it we need to be scolded a bit…
- In a weird twist I’m reading Piketty right now as well, and I don’t think that he and Kotkin disagree on the symptoms. The only time that Kotkin gets negative is when he talks about increasing inequality. I’m not sure that he’s anti-tax, so he might even favor Piketty’s solutions as well. I guess I’m not sure that Piketty shares Kotkin’s optimism, but that might not mean much…