Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Economics

National Self-Determination is Overrated

I have a new piece out for Current Affairs about the importance of political unions in the 21st century. Here’s the link:

https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/11/national-self-determination-is-overrated

The original title was “In Praise of Unionism: What the European Left Can Learn From America,” but we souped it up a bit. It’s a bit longer and more comprehensive than the stuff I usually do here. The folks at CA are delightful to work with. They’re putting out some really terrific long-form pieces that dig into things more deeply than a lot of what we see on the web these days.

Canadian Donald Trump is Coming

For a couple of years now I’ve had a theory, one I haven’t told you all about. It goes something like this–Canada is just like us, but 5-10 years ago. Here’s how it works.

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How Trump’s Executive Actions are Like Obama’s–And How They’re Not

President Trump is fed up with everyone and everything. For months now, congress has refused to implement his agenda. He’s mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore. Does that sound like someone you know? It should–late in his presidency, Barack Obama became exasperated with years of Republican obstruction. He turned to his lawyers. What could the administration do unilaterally that might be legal? They threw the kitchen sink at it, trying all sorts of things and leaving it to the courts to decide what would stick. Like Trump, Obama began taking more executive action late in the first year, though most of his biggest and boldest moves came in the second term:

The fact that Trump is frustrated and is looking for ways to weasel around institutional impediments shouldn’t surprise us. When the Supreme Court got in Franklin Roosevelt’s way, he tried to pack the court with sycophants:

What’s interesting is how transparently bad this executive action is.

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3 Ways to Think About the American Revolution

This Fourth of July, I noticed that some Americans are taking an interest in challenging the popular narratives surrounding the American Revolution. Over at Jacobin, William Hogeland has a go at the revolution, while Jeff Stein defends it at Vox. I find both views too strong for my taste–as I see it, the revolution has three core faces to it. We tend to only focus on one of these aspects at any given moment, but to truly understand the revolution as a historical event we need all three.

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Suburban Decay: A Theory of Decline in Towns

Some years before I was born, my parents lived in Michigan City, Indiana. But this was only briefly–before too long, they ended up in Valparaiso, the town I grew up in. Since 1970, Michigan City’s population has fallen by a quarter, while Valparaiso’s has increased by a third. Today Valparaiso has more people than Michigan City does, and nearby Chesterton’s population has doubled its 1970 level. Another nearby town, LaPorte, has stagnated:

Why do Valparaiso and Chesterton grow while Michigan City and LaPorte decline or stagnate? I’ve been thinking about it, and I have a theory.

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