Macron’s Liberalization Has Made Travel More Affordable in France

View of the Champs-Élysées from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, December 5, 2012
View of the Champs-Élysées from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, December 5, 2012 (Chris Chabot)

Emmanuel Macron’s liberalization of intercity public transport in France is paying off.

Until 2015, railroads had a monopoly on domestic ground routes of 100 kilometers or more. Macron — then economy minister, now president — wrote legislation that allowed busses to compete.

Bloomberg reports that 6.2 million passengers took a long-distance bus in 2016 and bookings are up another 25 percent this year.

That’s still a fraction of the more than 100 million annual high-speed train passengers, but competition from busses is forcing the state-owned railway to cut rates. Read more

Repression Is the Wrong Approach to America’s Opioid Epidemic

American president Donald Trump is seen in Washington DC, January 20
American president Donald Trump is seen in Washington DC, January 20 (DoD/Marianique Santos)

One of the few silver linings to last year’s presidential election in the United States was that candidates from both major parties recognized that the nation’s opioid epidemic should be treated as a public-health, rather than a law-enforcement, problem.

Which makes it all the more disheartening that Donald Trump is taking exactly the wrong approach to this crisis.

Politico reports that the new president believes in a “tough law-and-order approach” to arrest the rise in drug overdose deaths.

142 Americans die from opioid abuse every day. That is more than die in car accidents or from guns.

The crisis is concentrated in postindustrial states like Kentucky and West Virginia: the heart of Trumpland. Read more

Trump’s Big Mouth Fails to Impress the World

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau speaks with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, February 13
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau speaks with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, February 13 (Flickr/Justin Trudeau)

Not only is Donald Trump aching for a conflict with Iran; the American president also seems to be keen on a war with North Korea.

His latest threat, to meet further North Korean provocations with “fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before,” is disconcerting for two reasons:

  1. Who believes him? Certainly not the North Koreans, who responded to Trump’s bluster by threatening to strike the American island of Guam.
  2. North Korea never backs down. It is the superpower, not an impoverished country with an army from the Stalinist era, that is supposed to act responsibly and deescalate. Read more

Republican Attempt to Repeal Obamacare Turns into Farce

View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC in the early morning, January 15
View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC in the early morning, January 15 (DoD/William Lockwood)

Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare have descended into farce.

Politico reports that Senate Republicans don’t even want their latest bill — which would repeal the 2010 health reforms without replacing them — to become law.

“The substance of this is not what’s relevant,” said Bob Corker of Tennessee. “This a pathway to conference. That’s the only purpose in this.”

But there is no guarantee the House of Representatives will agree to a conference, which is not designed to write laws to begin with. It’s a process to iron out differences between similar bills passed by both chambers.

The reason Senate Republicans must resort to this is that they haven’t been able to unify their own behind a health-care bill, let alone attract Democratic support. Read more

Why Now Is the Time for Greek Debt Relief

The Acropolis of Athens, Greece, April 19, 2009
The Acropolis of Athens, Greece, April 19, 2009 (John, Melanie Kotsopoulos)

The conventional wisdom is that Greek debt relief can’t happen before the German election. Angela Merkel wouldn’t want to risk the ire of her conservative voters.

But things could be more difficult after the election. There is a good chance Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the liberal Free Democrats will win enough seats to form a center-right government. The latter, while smaller, are more adamant in their views on the Greek debt crisis. They would find it hard to justify debt forgiveness to their voters.

That’s not the only reason why the time is right. Donald Trump and the rise of illiberal democracy around the world is another. Europe must circle the wagons to provide a counterweight to this dangerous development. Read more

The Bar for Impeaching a President Is Too High

The White House in Washington DC is seen from a helicopter, January 15, 2015
The White House in Washington DC is seen from a helicopter, January 15, 2015 (White House/Pete Souza)

Americans should impeach presidents more often, argues Gene Healy in Reason:

It would be a pretty lousy constitutional architecture that only provided the means for ejecting the president if he’s a crook or a vegetable, but left us to muddle through anything in between.

Incoherence, incompetence and recklessness are all evidence of unfitness for office, writes Healy. It shouldn’t require worse to remove a president. Read more

The United Republics: A Peace Plan for America

Clare Trainor's proposal for high-speed rail connections between seven American megaregions
Clare Trainor’s proposal for high-speed rail connections between seven American megaregions

The 2016 election was a turning point in American history. Cultural, political and regional differences have become so vast that the American political system is becoming unsustainable. There are two fundamentally different visions of what this country should be and the current federal system does not allow these differences to be reconciled.

For these reasons, I am proposing a new political system that would transform the United States of America into the United Republics of America.

This new government would still allow nationwide coordination of domestic and foreign policy, but it would devolve power to newly created republics. Read more