Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Regulation

Facebook isn’t that Different from News Corp or Standard Oil

My Facebook is flooded with folks talking about Cambridge Analytica, the firm that bought access to Facebook user data and used it to help design political propaganda for organisations seeking to help the Trump campaign. But you know what I find most surprising about this story? The fact that people find it surprising in the first place. This possibility was always implied by Facebook’s business model. It creates a platform that makes communicating with people easier. We don’t have to pay money to use it, but in exchange Facebook takes our data and sells it to whoever wants to buy. Did we really think that political organisations wouldn’t be interesting in buying Facebook data? Did we really think that Facebook wouldn’t sell it to them? This implication has stood in front of our faces for years. It’s clearly implied by Facebook’s very nature–it is literally a firm which induces people to give it private information and then sells that information to the highest bidder. Why can’t the bidders have political motivations? Facebook is a transnational corporation. Why would even expect the bidders to be American?

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Trump Plans to Let Restaurateurs Confiscate Employees’ Tips

I had the misfortune of reading about a newly proposed Trump administration regulatory change. These regulatory changes happen constantly, but most of them fail to draw the heavy press and public attention that say, net neutrality has and does. It seems these regulations are least likely to get attention when the groups they harm are small and economically and politically weak. This latest regulation hits tipped employees especially hard, and its design is insidious and deeply misleading. Here’s how it works.

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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.

Tom Perez Was the Wrong Choice for DNC Chair

Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez has defeated Keith Ellison to become the new chairman of the DNC. It took two rounds of voting, with Perez eventually prevailing, 235-200. This is a deeply concerning development–Perez has a long history of taking positions which accommodate and contribute to declining living standards for poor and working Americans. He does support minimum wage increases, but a closer look reveals an untrustworthy record.

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A Hierarchy of Lies and Falsehood

The 2016 election has been full of lies and falsehood. Candidates routinely say things that are not true or make misleading and fallacious arguments. But not all lies are equal–some are more damaging than others, some may even appear justifiable. So today I’d like to break down the different kinds of lies in politics and think about which ones are the most objectionable. To spice things up, we’ll include examples from the campaign of each kind of lie. Are you ready? Let’s go.

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