Benjamin Studebaker

The Home of an Aspirant Political Philosopher and his Early Period Works

Clemency for Drug Offenders?

US Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the Obama administration plans to implement new rules that would reduce sentences for thousands of nonviolent drug offenders currently in federal prisons. This new policy, combined with the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, would allow the administration to commute the mandatory minimum sentences many prisoners received under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. The new approach may feature hundreds of presidential pardons. In the meantime, congress has been considering new legislation (the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2014, still pending) that would cut the remaining minimum sentences in half. This is good policy, but it does not go far enough. Here’s why.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jafar: Agrabah’s Atatürk

Today I’d like to turn to an old theme–the tendency for Disney movies to disparage intellectual villains in favor of physical heroes and apologize for economic and social injustice. Previously, I wrote about how The Lion King, rightly interpreted, is really about Scar’s attempt to liberate the hyenas from a racist lion oligarchy. Today I’d like to do something similar with Aladdinreconstructing the plot so as to render Jafar the hero.

Read the rest of this entry »

Inequality: Better to be Greek or Roman?

Oftentimes when we discuss whether or not economic inequality is justifiable, we have the tendency to consider only the most extreme form of the left wing position. The right often defends its model of the  market economy by comparing it to the old communist states, to the Soviet Union–countries in which everyone, at least in theory, had the same income. In places like the Soviet Union, incentives fell apart. If you will be paid the same amount no matter how much work you do, there is little reason to do additional work. The trouble is that this argument straw mans all left wing positions as strictly egalitarian. The left wing position need not be that societies should be perfectly economically equal, it need merely be that much of the economic inequality we see is superfluous and unnecessary. That is the argument I intend to make today.

Read the rest of this entry »

Blog News

When my run of posting starts to become rather thin, I think I owe readers an explanation as to what is going on and when they can expect things to return to normal. In this case, I am presently working on a draft of the MA thesis I am writing at University of Chicago, provisionally titled The Return of Depression Politics and the Coming Cataclysm for Democracy. This draft needs to be completed by Friday, April 18,  and so I have had to give it precedence over my other projects. Sometime during this week the draft will be finished, at which point the blogging pace should begin to pick up. However, a full return to the very-nearly-daily pace I maintained for much of 2013 is not in the cards, at least not until I finish my MA, which I expect will happen de jure in June, de facto in late May. I thank you, the reader, for your patience as I complete these urgent projects.

Minimum Wage: Rational Employers are Not Job Creators

There is a huge, gaping hole in the response right-wing politicians are giving to demands that the minimum wage be raised in the United States–they are assuming that employers generally behave in an irrational, inefficient way. Here’s how.

Read the rest of this entry »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,223 other followers