Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: European Union

Britain Must Refuse to Honor the Results of the Brexit Referendum

In a shockingly stupid decision, the British public have voted 52% to 48% to leave the European Union. In the short term this means an economic disruption that will blight people’s lives. In the long term this means that unless it is permitted to remain in the European Economic Area, Britain will no longer have EU regulations to protect its workers, consumers, and environment. Even if it stays in the EEA (and the EU has every reason to refuse to permit it to do so to deter other countries from leaving the EU), it will no longer be able to play a part in solving collective action problems like tax avoidance and climate change, and its non-involvement will undermine the solutions proposed by others in Europe. Brexit will also aid and abet other Euroskeptic movements throughout Europe and dump gasoline on the right nationalist fire that grips so much of the world today. Many people in Britain and elsewhere throughout the world will be harmed, some now, some later, many irretrievably so. No political outcome can be legitimate if it permanently and irretrievably harms so many people with no substantive advantages. For these reasons the next British government must refuse to invoke Article 50. Parliament is sovereign, and its sovereignty cannot be abrogated by a referendum. This is a controversial view–refusing to honor the referendum would make a lot of people very angry. But the long term harms of Brexit to Britain’s young people are too great for any government to morally justify invoking Article 50, irrespective of public opinion.

Read the rest of this entry »

Brexiteers are European Confederates

The murder of British MP Jo Cox at the hands of a Brexiteer has me thinking about my own country’s long and storied history of political violence. Most famously, my country ripped itself apart in a civil war over slavery. Of course, that’s not the way the supporters of the Confederate States of America (CSA) framed the conflict in their own minds. To them the civil war was a question of sovereignty. It’s easy to forget, especially if you’re from overseas, but the United States has always had a strong anti-federalist current which views the individual US states as genuinely sovereign entities, each participating in the federation on a voluntary, and ultimately revocable basis. This surfaces even today–during the 2014 midterm elections, US senate candidate Joni Ernst made open appeals to the concept of “nullification”, which holds that because the US states are sovereign they can invalidate federal law:

You know we have talked about this at the state legislature before, nullification. But, bottom line is, as U.S. Senator why should we be passing laws that the states are considering nullifying? Bottom line: our legislators at the federal level should not be passing those laws. We’re right…we’ve gone 200-plus years of federal legislators going against the Tenth Amendment’s states’ rights. We are way overstepping bounds as federal legislators. So, bottom line, no we should not be passing laws as federal legislators—as senators or congressman—that the states would even consider nullifying. Bottom line.

Ernst won that election by 9 points–she is a sitting US senator. US Presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee made similar appeals during the Republican primaries, alleging that the states could nullify the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling. Increasingly the arguments we’re seeing for Brexit look an awful lot like American state sovereignty arguments. It may sound like an extreme comparison, but the parallels are remarkably strong.

Read the rest of this entry »

Britain: For Pity’s Sake, Stay in the EU

On 23 June, Britain is having a referendum on its membership in the European Union. I care deeply about British politics–I’m doing my PhD there as I write this. But more importantly, Brexit would be a stunningly poor choice, undermining British interests in both the short and the long-term, and I would feel deeply remiss if I didn’t do my part to point this out.

Read the rest of this entry »

Misconceptions: The United States is Not “Too Big” to be More Like Denmark

Since the Democratic Party debate, folks have been talking about Bernie Sanders‘ desire to make the United States more like Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. One of the most common responses to Sanders I’ve heard is the idea that the United States is too big to successfully imitate the Nordic countries. During the debate, Anderson Cooper himself said:

Denmark is a country that has a population — Denmark is a country that has a population of 5.6 million people.

I’ve seen the same thought echoed by many people, even people who are otherwise quite sympathetic to Sanders. This is very odd, because if we subject this thought to even the tiniest amount of scrutiny, it collapses.

Read the rest of this entry »

This is Horrible, but it’s No Coup: Why the Greek Deal is Democratic

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has betrayed the people of Greece by agreeing to the troika’s austerity demands. The deal is terrible and will unnecessarily inflict additional mass suffering on Greece’s unemployed (25%), youth unemployed (50%), and children living in poverty (40%). Many well-intentioned people have participated in the hashtag #ThisisaCoup, accusing the EU of overriding democracy. While I share the frustration and anger, it’s very important that we understand that this is precisely the way European voters insisted that policymakers design the European Union to work. It is the voters of Europe who have inflicted this travesty of justice upon the continent.

Read the rest of this entry »