Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: GDP

How Bad Does Trump Have to Be to Match George W. Bush?

Former President George W. Bush has been out and about, charming people with his paintings and his inability to put on a poncho, all in a bid to get people to buy his book of paintings to raise money for veterans. It sounds nice, but of course Bush is the reason so many of these vets need money in the first place–they were wounded, disabled, and sometimes killed in the tremendously expensive wars he started. Yet because Donald Trump has moved the Republican Party so far to the right, Bush now strikes many people as a moderate, and it’s become increasingly common for Trump critics to pine for the 00’s and praise the Bush administration. This nostalgic narrative will likely become more dominant as the memory of the 00’s continues to fade. But today I want to tilt against this windmill and show how much work Trump will have to do to fail as hard as Bush failed.

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No One Should Want Trump to Be Like Andrew Jackson

Today I read that President Trump has hung a portrait of Andrew Jackson in the oval office. One of Trump’s spokespeople heaped praise on Jackson, calling him:

an amazing figure in American history — very unique so many ways

Jackson was indeed unique–uniquely terrible. Many on the left dislike Jackson because of his mistreatment of Native Americans, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Jackson was objectively and provably a disastrous president for all Americans, native or otherwise. I continue to see Trump get compared to Jackson, but none of these comparisons capture just how bad Jackson was for the country. The 1830s were so long ago that few now remember just how absurdly terrible they were. Let me tell you all about it.

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Obama’s Legacy: The Evidence Beyond the Punditry

As President Obama’s term draws to a close, every political writer under the sun is offering a hot take on how he’ll be remembered. These can be fun to read, but they don’t tell you very much about what really happened while Barack Obama was president. So today I’d like to look at some of the evidence and data we have on this president. Let’s see how he stacks up next to past presidents and America’s friends and rivals.

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How Brazil Got the Worst Austerity Program in the World

Brazil’s new president, Michel Temer, has introduced austerity via constitutional amendment, freezing Brazil’s state spending at 2016 levels for 20 years, allowing it to increase only at the rate of inflation. This is really dumb–if Brazil’s population grows, or Brazil has an economic crisis, or Brazil has to go to war, it will be trapped within 2016 fiscal parameters. So as its population grows, the same level of spending will be divided across ever larger numbers of people, and if Brazil gets into major trouble it will only be able to pay for emergency measures by lashing social spending. To make matters worse, the amendment disallows its own repeal for a 10 year minimum, so there is nothing anyone in Brazil can constitutionally do about this ridiculous rule until 2027. But you know what makes this even more incredible? Temer was never elected president of Brazil in the first place. What follows is the bizarre story of how Brazil’s broken constitution empowered a man committed to an absurd political agenda.

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François Fillon is a Big, Fat Mistake

France’s center-right Republican Party has chosen to nominate François Fillon for the presidency. This is a big, fat mistake. Fillon is a relic from the 2000’s–he was Former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Prime Minister from 2007 to 2012, and he calls for a slate of policies that would cut public services, increase economic disparities, and shred France’s economy. He is a massive risk not just to France but to Europe as a whole, both in the short-term and the long-term. Here’s why.

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