Government Should Stop Recording Gender Altogether

Visitors at the de Young museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, California, October 16, 2005
Visitors at the de Young museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, California, October 16, 2005 (Thomas Hawk)

Robin Dembroff has an elegant solution to the “gender war”: stop government recording gender altogether.

“Conservatives insist that the state should record what genitals I have,” Dembroff writes. “Liberals insist the state should instead record my self-identity.” Both assume that the state should be concerned with gender at all.

In so doing, each side — whether tacitly or intentionally — endorses the use of legal gender to reinforce its own preferred gender ideology.

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Americans Should Seriously Consider Constitutional Reform

View of Washington DC with the United States Capitol in the distance, February 17, 2015
View of Washington DC with the United States Capitol in the distance, February 17, 2015 (Matt Popovich)

I completely agree with Timothy B. Lee: Americans should seriously consider constitutional reform.

This weekend’s federal government shutdown — despite Republicans controlling both houses of Congress as well as the presidency — is further proof that the system is broken.

Extreme partisanship, polarization, the politicization of the judiciary, government-by-crisis, legislators’ inability to tackle major issues like entitlement reform and Congress’ unwillingness to execute its proper spending and war-declaration powers all argue for an overhaul of the American political system.

Lee fears it will take an even bigger crisis before Americans accept the need for change.

But he is also optimistic that widening the “Overton window” on this might improve the chances of fixing the problem before a catastrophe occurs. Read more

Both Left- and Right-Wing Critics of the NHS Have a Point

A hospital in London, England, February 21, 2010
A hospital in London, England, February 21, 2010 (Lars Plougmann)

Crises in Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) always provoke the same ideological debate: the right blames “socialized medicine”, the left calls for more money.

Neither side is completely wrong.

The Financial Times argues there are too many administrators and not enough frontline medical staff in English hospitals.

Repeated government reforms have spurred fragmentation and only added more layers of bureaucracy.

But “cuts” (really: restraint in the growth of health spending) haven’t helped, especially when the population is aging and requiring more services. Read more

New Social Compact: Deregulation and Universal Basic Income

Two people shake hands
Two people shake hands (Pixabay)

I believe that to shrink the culture gap in Western democracies — between generally well-educated “globalists” and those who feel left behind — we need a new social compact.

The twentieth century’s was built on strong trade unions, lifetime employment and health and pension benefits tied to salaried jobs. The economy, and people’s expectations, have changed in such a way that this is no longer sustainable. But we haven’t come up with a replacement yet.

The American Enterprise Institute’s Dalibor Rohac may be onto something. He calls for a “grand bargain”: serious deregulation coupled with the introduction of a universal basic income. Read more

Why Millennials Are More Sympathetic to Big Government

Voters listen to a speech by Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine in Davidson, North Carolina, October 12, 2016
Voters listen to a speech by Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine in Davidson, North Carolina, October 12, 2016 (Hillary for America/Alyssa S.)

Polls show that Americans under the age of 35 are more sympathetic to big government than their elders. Democrats have a 48-point advantage among millennial voters, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey.

That is not so surprising when you realize that their generation may be the first in a long time that is worse off than their parents’.

Michael Hobbes’ feature about millennials in The Huffington Post contains some sobering statistics.

On average, he writes, Americans under the age of 35:

  • Have 300 percent more student debt than their parents;
  • Are half as likely to own homes as young people were in the 1970s; and
  • Will probably have to work until they’re 75.

The stereotype of the overqualified liberal arts graduate working as a barista is only half-correct. Many young Americans are struggling to find high-paying jobs despite having spent tens — sometimes hundreds — of thousands of dollars on their education. Less known is that one in five young adults live in poverty. Read more

The Trends That Gave Us Trump — And What to Do About Them

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, October 29, 2016
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, October 29, 2016 (Gage Skidmore)

Shocking though Donald Trump’s victory was, looking back we can see how his presidency is the culmination of trends, some of which have been decades in the making:

  • Polarization: The sorting of American voters into two ideologically homogenous parties.
  • Urban-rural split: The Electoral College and Senate give more power to the conservative countryside at the expense of liberal cities.
  • Imperial presidency: The executive has accumulated power at the expense of other branches of government, raising the stakes in presidential elections.
  • Politicization of the courts: Presidential appointments of federal and Supreme Court judges undermine the perceived impartiality of the courts, which in turn weakens the rule of law.
  • Overreliance on the military: Foreign policy is now run by generals, not diplomats. The military has its own hospitals. It plays a crucial role in disaster relief. It may not be long before the Army Corps of Engineers is asked to fix America’s broken infrastructure. Read more

Consolidate Congressional Districts to Make Elections Fairer

The 111 Huntington Avenue skyscraper in Boston, Massachusetts, October 22, 2010
The 111 Huntington Avenue skyscraper in Boston, Massachusetts, October 22, 2010 (Thomas Hawk)

Last month, I made two arguments for a more proportional voting system in the United States:

  1. Politics should not be reduced to two options.
  2. Proportional representation discourages regional factionalism.

I recognized at the time that a full switch to proportional representation is unlikely but argued that adding runoffs could allow third parties to flourish without playing spoiler.

Another, easier way to accomplish the same goal would be to combine single-member congressional districts into multi-member districts. Read more