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Friday, January 27, 2017

Brexit and Calexit: Excessive Democracy?

Ordered by Britain’s Supreme Court to get the state’s Parliament’s approval for the state to secede from the Union, the Prime Minister, Teresa May, faced the prospect of debate, amendments, and the votes themselves in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. In the latter chamber, May’s Conservative Party did not at the time have a majority. Some in her party “suggested that she should quickly appoint enough new lords to give her the votes she needs. But few say they expect that to be necessary: with little democratic legitimacy, the 805 lords are unlikely to dare to block” the referendum outcome favoring secession.[1] I submit that the democratic criterion is ill-fitting to the House of Lords.


The complete essay is at Essays on Two Federal Empires.




1. Katrin Bennhold, “Ordered to Seek Approval on ‘Brexit,’ Teresa May Does So. Tersely,” The New York Times, January 26, 2017. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Power beyond the Constraints of Federalism: The Case of Gambia’s 2016 Presidential Election

Even though Adama Barrow defeated the longtime president of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, in the state’s presidential election in December, 2016, Barrow was rushed to the state of Senegal for security reasons when Jammeh refused to relinquish the power of the presidency. Jammeh had led a successful coup in coming to power in 1994. So it is no surprise that days after accepting the election result, he “changed his mind, declared the election results invalid and vowed to use the power of his military to stay in charge.”[1] This attests to the allure of power and how difficult it is to give up. In the E.U. and U.S., the protocols and institutional procedures are so well established that the nature of power is eclipsed from view as one political party assumes power previously held by another party. The reality of power as it lives in human nature is much more raw in the case of Gambia’s transition of presidents in 2016. I submit that federalism at the empire level was too lax to bracket the true nature of power at the state level.

The full essay is at "Gambia's 2016 Presidential Election."

Gambia's new president, Adama Barrow, returning to the state after the previous president agreed to leave office. (Jerome Delay/AP)



[1] Jaime Y. Barry and Dionne Searcey, “His Predecessor Gone, Gambia’s New President Finally Comes Home,” The New York Times, January 26, 2017.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Bringing Back Manufacturing Jobs to the U.S.A.: Confronting Tough Realities

Meeting with American corporate CEOs at the White House on the first “working day” of his presidency, Donald Trump warned, “A company that wants to fire all of its people in the United States and build some factory somewhere else, then thinks that product is going to just flow across the border into the United States . . . that’s just not going to happen.”[1] The new president was up against “tectonic forces” in trying to bring back “blue collar” manufacturing jobs to his base using tax policy. Yet the business calculus goes immediately on the basis of financial advantage, and the contours of the “game board” include the various tax and trade policies of countries.

The full essay is at "Bringing Back the Jobs."


[1] Nelson D. Schwartz and Alan Rappeport, “Call to Create Jobs, or Else, Tests Trump’s Sway,” The New York Times, January 24, 2017.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

On the U.S. Government’s Fiscal Imbalance: Federalism to the Rescue?

At the outset of the Trump administration in the U.S., real economic output was projected to grow at an annual rate of 1.9 percent over the next decade.[1] The new federal president was hoping his proposals of tax cuts and $1 trillion in additional infrastructure spending over a decade would bump up the annual growth to 4 percent. I submit, however, that just over 2 percent more in the growth rate would not alter the stark “budget reality” facing the new president and the American people.

The full essay is at "U.S. Government's Fiscal Imbalance."



1. Alan Rappeport, “Federal Debt Projected to Grow by Nearly $10 Trillion Over Next Decade,” The New York Times, January 24, 2017.