Dialogue on Catalan Independence

Today the Parliament of Catalonia declared independence from Spain, a move Spain declares illegal. It is the first contested independence declaration in Western Europe since Sinn Fein declared the Irish Republic in 1919.(*) In an effort to understand the positions of both sides, I have created a dialogue between two imaginary characters, both Catalan. Gemma … Continue reading Dialogue on Catalan Independence

In Which I Lose a Bet

Last year, I offered a bet that if an election were held this year in Catalonia, Catalan independentist parties would win a majority of valid, nonblank votes. One was, and they didn't. The only person to take me up on the bet was Bernat Gispert, who bet me dinner next time I'm in Barcelona, hoping … Continue reading In Which I Lose a Bet

Why Catalan Independence Might Be Good for the World

On September 27, Catalonia, an "autonomous community" of Spain, votes in a regional election that will likely determine whether the region declares independence from Spain. The Economist and other global news outlets have generally not taken the movement very seriously, which is a grave mistake. According to a series of new polls, the independentists are … Continue reading Why Catalan Independence Might Be Good for the World

Libertines, Hypocrites, and the Weak-Willed, With an Application to Socialism

Bryan Caplan argues that social conservatives should prefer libertines to hypocrites, contrary to the common meme that "at least hypocrites have moral standards." The argument is pretty simple: hypocrites seem to share your values, but when you least expect it, they will betray you. So far as it goes, the argument is pretty convincing. But … Continue reading Libertines, Hypocrites, and the Weak-Willed, With an Application to Socialism

“Catalonia’s March Toward Self-Determination”

That's the title of a very good article by Princeton political scientist Carles Boix and J.C. Major. The article provides background to the Catalan self-determination movement but also discusses recent developments and the reasons for them. One takeaway is the enormous role that the Spanish government's response to the last Catalan autonomy statute, essentially gutting … Continue reading “Catalonia’s March Toward Self-Determination”

Reflections on Catalan Secession

1) Polls continue to point to a significant "yes" victory in a future referendum on independence in Catalonia. 2) If the Catalan government backs down from a referendum, even if the Constitutional Court declares it illegal, as it certainly will, it will pay a heavy price at the polls. Therefore, it is locked into holding … Continue reading Reflections on Catalan Secession

Austerity, Corruption, and the Long Run

If you see corruption in the upper tiers of government as a major problem for an economy's health in the long run (and the balance of evidence suggests that it is, at least at high levels in capitalist countries), then externally imposed austerity might be the only way to root it out. Syracuse prof Glyn … Continue reading Austerity, Corruption, and the Long Run