Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Spain

Catalonia: Folks Don’t Understand How Serious the Debate Over Sovereignty Is

About 92% of Catalans who voted in the recent referendum backed independence, on a turnout of just 42%. The thing is, if you’re against Catalan independence, it would be odd to participate in this referendum because the Spanish state–the entity you recognize as sovereign–declared the referendum illegal. An independence referendum that has the backing of the regional authority but not the national authority can only deliver a divisive result. Much of the international media has put the blame for this on the Spanish–why wouldn’t Spain just recognize the right of the Catalans to self-determination and permit the referendum, like the UK did for Scotland? But these arguments make a lot of assumptions about self-determination that build in pro-independence biases. If Spain were to allow a Catalan independence referendum even though in the view of the Spanish government such a referendum is against the interests of the Spanish people as a whole, Spain would already be effectively conceding the question about which the referendum is meant to decide.

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The Left-Wing Case Against Catalan Independence

Catalonia is holding an independence referendum on October 1st. The referendum is not sanctioned by the Spanish government. Many are inclined to support the Catalan cause, particularly on the left. After all, the left tends to sympathize with minority and regional groups that seem culturally marginalized, and the Spanish government–led by the austerity-promoting Mariano Rajoy–feels icky. When Catalans portray themselves as plucky upstarts taking on a corrupt and indifferent Madrid bureaucracy, it’s easy to see the appeal. But this isn’t really about Catalonia versus Madrid–it’s about Catalonia versus Andalusia.

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Is the Eurozone a German Empire?

Given the title, it’s necessary to make a clarification. I support a federal Europe. It’s the only way Europe can regain its ability to make foreign and economic policy independently from the United States, and regain its position as a leading region. However, after running some numbers today, I no longer believe in the Euro as presently constituted. Here’s why.
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How Big Government Discovered America

In the 15th century, when Christopher Columbus needed money to make his voyage to the Americas, he approached several heads of state. He came to the John II of Portugal, to the doges of Genoa and Venice, to Henry VIII in England, all of whom declined to fund his grandiose and zany project. Finally, he went to Ferdinand II and Isabella I of Spain. Their ministers, like the ministers in the previous nations, deemed the voyage impractical, too costly, too foolish. A bad investment. All the same, the Spanish monarchs decided to appoint Columbus Admiral of the Seas and dumped a pile of state investment upon him. And so, from the bosom of state largesse, the discovery of America began.

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Misconceptions: “America is Like Greece”

The other day I found myself in conversation with one of my fellow students about whether or not the British government had too large of budget cuts too soon in the economic recovery. I argued that it was fairly self-evident that it had done so, considering the superior economic performance of most nations that had refrained from issuing cuts or embarked on a policy of stimulus. The response he gave me was an interesting one–he argued that the advantages being enjoyed by the stimulus countries were short term, and advised me to look at France, a country that had refrained from austerity and has recently had its credit rating reduced by Moody’s, is seeing stagnant growth rates, and has a host of other problems. I responded that Eurozone countries were in a different kind of economic crisis from countries like Britain and America, and that different rules applied–this was met with scepticism, as if I were trying to weasel my way out of the point. So today I would like to make the broad argument that the economic problems being experienced in non-Euro countries like America, Britain, Japan, and Canada are of a fundamentally different nature from the kind being experienced in France, Spain, Portugal, and Greece. So different, in fact, that comparing the former to the latter is intellectually useless.

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