Benjamin Studebaker

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

The Assimilation of François Hollande is Complete

We are the Borg. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile.

If the French thought their 2012 election of socialist François Hollande over former president Nicolas Sarkozy meant that they would have their Keynes and avoid austerity, they have been proven fatally wrong. Hollande has just announced plans for a €50 billion austerity package, a cut of 4% of France’s GDP. He has promised to cut taxes on businesses by €30 billion, but this will come in the form of the elimination of a requirement that French businesses fund a family welfare program. Based on the IMF’s multiplier estimate for depressed economies (1.5), France will lose 6% in potential GDP growth over the next 3 years under this plan, potentially resulting in a new French recession. Hollande’s argument for this plan betrays a stunning incompetence on economic matters and illustrates that French voters have been played–there was no democratic alternative to Sarkozy in 2012.

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The Internet is like a Road

There’s a lot of disagreement about the extent to which the state is entitled to take metadata on whom people communicate with on the internet and over the phone. I’d like to make a broad argument, one that I think ought to hold no matter what kind of state you live in, whether you’re in the US or Europe or China or what have you. This argument relies on our conception of the “public network”. What do we understand to be a public network, and what can the state do with public networks? Once we have determined what a public network is, we can apply the same moral and legal principles to every  public network. I think that roads, rails, phone lines, power lines, pipes, the internet, and mobile phones are all in an important sense public networks, and that the laws and principles governing surveillance of any one of these networks should apply to all of them.

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