Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

A Serious Policy Analysis of House of Cards’ “America Works” Program

I am a huge fan of Netflix’s House of Cards, which stars Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, a ruthless political anti-hero. Here’s the trailer, if you haven’t seen it. It’s really good:

I launched into the 3rd season yesterday and was fascinated by Underwood’s “America Works” proposal. Very minor spoilers here–Underwood plans to eliminate or restructure America’s entitlement programs, using the money saved to create 10 million jobs, which will apparently cost $500 billion. Now, this is a television show. There are no CBO reports to look at, no detailed policy analyses or public policy research, but I want to dig into this and take the opportunity to explore some of the issues with entitlement programs.

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Should People Have a Right to Have Children?

Many of my blog posts make some pretense of having something to do with a current event or news item. But sometimes I find myself thinking about larger issues of general principle that do not easily map onto any of the day’s controversies. This is that sort of post. I’ve recently found myself thinking about whether or not human beings should have an inalienable right to have children. It seems to me that we commonly assume that people do or should have this right, but it is not at all obvious to me that this is really the case. Here’s why.

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ISIS and Iran: Bigger Threats to Each Other than to the West

During the past week, I went on a bit of a roadtrip (it’s the reason for the gap in posting). While I was driving around, I listened to some talk radio, most of which was religious, conservative, or both. I found what I expected to find–there’s a lot of fear-mongering and threat inflation on talk radio. But what really stood out to me was just how inconsistent it all was. Let me explain what I mean.

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No, We Should Not Arm Ukraine

In a recent report titled Preserving Ukraine’s Independence, Resisting Russian Aggression: What the United States and NATO Must Do, the Brookings Institution in conjunction with the Atlantic Council and the Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs advise NATO to drastically increase its arms commitment to Ukraine. The report has fundamentally misunderstood the nature of the conflict in Ukraine and has consequently given governments advice that is both irrelevant and terrible. Here’s why.

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Intellectual Hipsters: Science Luddites

Today I’d like to continue my series on intellectual hipsters–people who take up flawed ideas without giving them much thought to project a false intellectualism. The reality is that these individuals are both remarkably pretentious, self-congratulatory, and ignorant. Previous entries in the series include centrists, libertarians, metaphysical skeptics, and Nietzsche fans. Today’s entry is all about science Luddites–people who take positions that contradict the scientific consensus without any evidence that would justify doing so.

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