Benjamin Studebaker

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

Trump Welcomes the Hatred of the Press

Remember back during the 2016 campaign when the media couldn’t stop covering Donald Trump? It hasn’t really changed, has it? The press hasn’t adapted much. Yes, there’s a lot of content about how bad Trump is, and some of it is even policy-oriented, focusing on some of the more odious bits and pieces of the Trump tax plan. But this is having no impact on Trump’s approval rating, which has hovered in the mid to upper 30s for most of the first year of his presidency–higher than the low 30s figures he suffered from throughout most of the 2016 campaign. Why is it that nothing the media says or does seems to seriously harm Trump?

Read the rest of this entry »

Why Cryptocurrencies Don’t Work as Currencies

I’ve been surprised lately by the number of people who have brought up or asked me about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. It’s moved me to take a minute to point out why many economists and political economists don’t get excited about them.

Read the rest of this entry »

How the Democratic Party Can Win the South

Since Donald Trump’s election I have increasingly become interested in how the left engages with white America. The left isn’t getting enough white support. Even with over 90% of the African-American vote, alleged pedophile Roy Moore came absurdly close to winning in Alabama. This can’t just be because white Americans are racist, stupid, or evil. There has to be more to it. In the past I’ve identified many things wrong with our approach–we’re too condescending and patronising toward white voters, and too quick to blame and shame them. We don’t spend enough time talking about and emphasizing programs and policies that help all marginalized people, including poor, working, and middle class whites. But today I want to go further and discuss in detail a new way of looking at the South and at middle America more broadly–one that takes these people and their concerns seriously. If we’re willing to tell a different story about the South, or at least acknowledge a different story, and build that acknowledgement into our policy and rhetoric, I think we can make some gains.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Doug Jones Victory Belongs to the People of Alabama, Not Just African-Americans

In the past week there’s been a weird narrative in the media about the Alabama Senate race between Democrat Doug Jones and Republican (and alleged serial mall predator) Roy Moore. The story goes something like this: the bad white southerners were willing to vote for the scummy pedophile theocrat, but then black people showed up and saved America from Roy Moore. It’s built on two key facts–most white Alabamans voted for Moore and the overwhelming majority of black Alabamans voted for Jones:

But this seems like a bizarre and misleading way to interpret the result of this election. Here’s why. Read the rest of this entry »

Trump Plans to Let Restaurateurs Confiscate Employees’ Tips

I had the misfortune of reading about a newly proposed Trump administration regulatory change. These regulatory changes happen constantly, but most of them fail to draw the heavy press and public attention that say, net neutrality has and does. It seems these regulations are least likely to get attention when the groups they harm are small and economically and politically weak. This latest regulation hits tipped employees especially hard, and its design is insidious and deeply misleading. Here’s how it works.

Read the rest of this entry »