Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Technology

Simon Sinek Doesn’t Understand Millennials

I’ve seen another viral video about Millennials doing the rounds. This one features Simon Sinek, a 43 year old who has leveraged a BA in cultural anthropology into a lucrative writing, speaking, and consulting career. Sinek, like so many others, attempts to explain what’s wrong with Millennials. His theory is persuasively presented, but nonetheless makes a series of basic mistakes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bernie Sanders: What the Economists are Fighting About

Economists have gotten into a big fight with each other about the potential economic impacts of Bernie Sanders’ proposals. First Gerald Friedman came out with a new paper anticipating a tremendous improvement in economic performance under Sanders. Then four economists (Krueger, Goolsbee, Romer, and Tyson) affiliated with the Obama and Clinton administrations wrote a joint letter asserting that Friedman’s claims “cannot be supported by the economic evidence”. Paul Krugman subsequently took their side on his popular blog. Others have defended Friedman–Jamie Galbraith accuses the four of not having rigorously reviewed the paper, while Dean Baker claims that the New York Times is not giving Sanders’ side a platform and that there’s far more support among economists than we are being led to believe. In the popular press, this argument has rapidly devolved into a question of which authorities are more or less credible. I want to give you something better–a readable analysis of the actual arguments at stake here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Election.gov: How to Eliminate Political Money and Campaigning

The US presidential campaign is well underway, and many of us are already deeply annoyed. Most of the likely winners are uninspiring if not downright incompetent, and we are already being inundated with endless pleas from various candidates for money and support. The candidates with more money can buy attention even though their ideas and qualifications are mediocre at best, and many good people simply cannot run because they cannot get financial backing. This got me thinking–how could we radically change the way we handle political campaigns to eliminate the role of money and campaigning altogether? I’ve come up with a radical plan, and I’m excited to share it with you.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Serious Policy Analysis of House of Cards’ “America Works” Program

I am a huge fan of Netflix’s House of Cards, which stars Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, a ruthless political anti-hero. Here’s the trailer, if you haven’t seen it. It’s really good:

I launched into the 3rd season yesterday and was fascinated by Underwood’s “America Works” proposal. Very minor spoilers here–Underwood plans to eliminate or restructure America’s entitlement programs, using the money saved to create 10 million jobs, which will apparently cost $500 billion. Now, this is a television show. There are no CBO reports to look at, no detailed policy analyses or public policy research, but I want to dig into this and take the opportunity to explore some of the issues with entitlement programs.

Read the rest of this entry »

Intellectual Hipsters: Science Luddites

Today I’d like to continue my series on intellectual hipsters–people who take up flawed ideas without giving them much thought to project a false intellectualism. The reality is that these individuals are both remarkably pretentious, self-congratulatory, and ignorant. Previous entries in the series include centrists, libertarians, metaphysical skeptics, and Nietzsche fans. Today’s entry is all about science Luddites–people who take positions that contradict the scientific consensus without any evidence that would justify doing so.

Read the rest of this entry »