Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Ignorance

Mechanics and Statesmen

I have spent a lot of time in academic institutions the last several years. There is a level of insularity to such places, of being in a kind of bubble. Being in places in which most everyone around you shares interests that are similar to your own has a distorting effect on the mind. I often hear students complaining about the limits of conversation outside the hallowed halls, of having to talk small or explain their work to “general readers”. There is a certain level of incredulity to these accounts. We forget the extent to which our specializations are niche when we are surrounded for extended periods by others who share them. We know, on some level, that we are oddballs, that most people do not share our idiosyncrasies and predilections, but we nonetheless often find ourselves projecting our interests onto people who not only do not share them, but find the subjects that amuse us thoroughly boring. There is a group of people out there, a group that comprises most of the human species writ large, that not only does not read this blog or blogs like it, but cannot so much as comprehend what anyone would find interesting or worthwhile about such things. They are the disinterested, the apathetic, the politically indifferent. Confronted by these individuals, we rationalize our eccentricity by disparaging and devaluing them, by implying that it is in some “immoral” not to share the political or philosophical inclination. This piece I dedicate to the indifferent, to those who will never read it, and I write it in their defense.

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Democratic Death Spirals

At this point, a very large number of people recognize that there are serious structural problems with the American political system, but most of these people still support American democracy in the abstract. Today I’d like to argue that this position is inconsistent, that it ignores the implications of recognizing the structural nature of the problems in the first place.

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Is Your Congressman Certified?

One of the biggest problems with our politics at present is the tendency for our politicians to be better glad-handers and fundraisers than they are statesmen. They know more about winning votes than they do about crafting good laws, and the former skill does not sufficiently track the latter. So what can we do to ensure our leaders have the knowledge and skills necessary to do their jobs well? I have offered a comprehensive solution in the past, one that requires a full reorientation of the structure of our political system, but today I’d like to consider something that, while more modest, would be much easier to do right away–certify our statesmen.

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