Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Federalism

How and Why Slavery Got Abolished

One of the things I find odd about the American discourse about slavery is how rarely Americans think about slavery as an institution which existed outside America. Not only did slavery exist in the ancient world in a pre-racialised way–in which many slaves were white, and many masters were people of colour–but it also existed in many other places during the period in which it existed in America. In many of these places, slavery was abolished not by violence but by ordinary politics. Yet this is rarely acknowledged or discussed, and it is increasingly common for Americans to frame our history largely in terms of the slavery question. We don’t often ask why slavery was more contentious in the United States than in other places. That’s what I want to think about with you today.

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How Schulz Should Pursue a United States of Europe

Martin Schulz–the leader of the center-left SPD, Germany’s second largest party–has publicly called for the United States of Europe by 2025:

This is an exciting proposal–a strong union is precisely the thing to break the European Union’s deadlock (the nature of which I’ve discussed elsewhere). But it will be politically difficult to do, because the EU has understandably lost so much of the European people’s trust over the last decade. To regain that trust, the “convention” Schulz talks about needs to operate fundamentally differently from current EU institutions. Here’s how it could be done.

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The Republicans are Trying to Use the Tax System to Attack Their Political Enemies

We’re seeing lots of good pieces which point out that many of the claims the Republicans are making about their tax plan are not true, that the plan favors the rich at the expense of the middle. But today I want to make another point about the plan, one that doesn’t seem to be getting the attention it merits. You see, it’s not just that the Republican plan helps the rich and hurts the middle. Those distributive consequences are real, and they matter, but this goes deeper than that. The Republican plan specifically targets liberal and left-leaning groups in the country for tax increases. It is an assault on the political neutrality of the tax system.

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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.

Why Single Payer Works Better at the National Level than the State Level

There’s a single payer plan advancing in the state of California, and many people are excited about it. And for good reason–a single payer system can potentially extend coverage while cutting costs. I’ve written about the virtues of single payer many times before, but there is a political danger in attempting to do single payer at the state level. Ironically and tragically, the very economic forces which make single payer such a good federal policy create powerful dangers for state systems.

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