Benjamin Studebaker

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

Catalonia: Folks Don’t Understand How Serious the Debate Over Sovereignty Is

About 92% of Catalans who voted in the recent referendum backed independence, on a turnout of just 42%. The thing is, if you’re against Catalan independence, it would be odd to participate in this referendum because the Spanish state–the entity you recognize as sovereign–declared the referendum illegal. An independence referendum that has the backing of the regional authority but not the national authority can only deliver a divisive result. Much of the international media has put the blame for this on the Spanish–why wouldn’t Spain just recognize the right of the Catalans to self-determination and permit the referendum, like the UK did for Scotland? But these arguments make a lot of assumptions about self-determination that build in pro-independence biases. If Spain were to allow a Catalan independence referendum even though in the view of the Spanish government such a referendum is against the interests of the Spanish people as a whole, Spain would already be effectively conceding the question about which the referendum is meant to decide.

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The Left-Wing Case Against Catalan Independence

Catalonia is holding an independence referendum on October 1st. The referendum is not sanctioned by the Spanish government. Many are inclined to support the Catalan cause, particularly on the left. After all, the left tends to sympathize with minority and regional groups that seem culturally marginalized, and the Spanish government–led by the austerity-promoting Mariano Rajoy–feels icky. When Catalans portray themselves as plucky upstarts taking on a corrupt and indifferent Madrid bureaucracy, it’s easy to see the appeal. But this isn’t really about Catalonia versus Madrid–it’s about Catalonia versus Andalusia.

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What the Single Payer Movement Can Learn From “Repeal and Replace”

Single payer healthcare seems to be getting more popular. More people are becoming aware of the advantages of single payer. A majority of Americans now say that the government has a responsibility to make sure all Americans have healthcare coverage, and more than half of that majority now think the best way to do it is single payer:

The current push for single payer does however have a lot in common with another political movement–the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.

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Hillary Clinton Still Doesn’t Get It

A few excerpts have leaked from Hillary Clinton’s forthcoming book, What Happened. They contain a series of attacks on Bernie Sanders and his supporters. You can find lots of people criticizing Clinton for re-litigating the primaries, but today I want to draw attention to just how bad Clinton’s arguments are.

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Everyone Missed the Point of Charlottesville

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been digesting the narratives swirling after the tragic violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. I’ve waited to write about it because I noticed that so many people’s emotions were running so high, even people who usually seem pretty level-headed to me. Nearly all the reactions I’ve seen have left me dissatisfied. This will take a minute to unpack, but I promise you it’s worth it. Read the rest of this entry »