10% more democracy

This Matt Yglesias tweet from a few months back caught my eye:



10 Responses to “10% more democracy”

  1. Gravatar of Lizard Man Lizard Man
    11. May 2021 at 17:30

    Shouldn’t the goal be to have democracy (or elections) where doing so increases accountability of government officials, and to avoid elections where it decreases accountability? Partisan election of say, the head of a county’s animal control department seems like an example where voting combined with reflexive partisanship actually shields elected officials from accountability, whereas appointment for that position by county commissioners would make that person accountable to officials that voters might have at least a little bit of knowledge about. I mean, we don’t have elections for positions like the national attorney general, surgeon general, or the head of homeland security. Should we have elections for those offices?

  2. Gravatar of Jens Jens
    11. May 2021 at 23:06

    I think i can wholeheartedly disagree with the gist of this.

    The separation of powers in the EU is not easy. But the bureaucrats are commissioned by elected representatives. There is an EU Parliament that is becoming increasingly important for younger people. There is a creative and courageous EU jurisdiction. There is competition between all levels. And there is an interesting and free public debate (which may be somewhat opaque from the outside).

    The EU had an elderly population to protect from the pandemic. A high degree of mobility between different countries and cultures was preserved. My ground floor was renovated this spring by two hardworking people from Poland.

    Different paths were tried. Some failed. Some were dissatisfied with their neighbors. Some countries can even afford to refuse certain vaccines. Schools and health services have by and large worked. The EU is a net exporter of everything vaccine-related and at the same time has a very good vaccination campaign.

    Things can always be done a little better. But nowhere on this planet has liberty been in better hands than in the EU during this pandemic. It’s as simple as that.

  3. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    12. May 2021 at 08:17

    Lizard, That makes sense to me.

    Jens, You said:

    “The EU is a net exporter of everything vaccine-related and at the same time has a very good vaccination campaign.”

    I have no idea what you are talking about. The EU vaccination campaign has been an unmitigated disaster. Ditto for ECB monetary policy.

  4. Gravatar of anon/portly anon/portly
    12. May 2021 at 16:09

    That same day (March 12) Yglesias also tweeted this one – I think he was in “burn” mode that day:

    “People who learned to win political arguments by calling the RA started applying the same principle in their workplace by calling HR and are panicking over the idea that this might not work as a general approach.”

  5. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    12. May 2021 at 18:20

    anon, Who is the “RA”?

  6. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    12. May 2021 at 20:45


    your typical European (?) glorification of the own state apparatus is absurd. It is like Scott says: The EU vaccination campaign was basically a disaster. Even Trump did better, which should open the eyes of even the most blind European. Even worse is ECB monetary policy.

    Self-criticism is not the EU’s strong suit, and even when the state fails on so many levels again and again, a quite surprising number of EU politicians, bureaucrats, journalists, teachers and ordinary citizens conclude every time that there was not already far too much state, but far too little.

    EU is a net exporter of everything vaccine-related and at the same time has a very good vaccination campaign.

    What kind of world do you live in? Even in Germany there is an extreme vaccine shortage, I don’t get my patients vaccinated, people have been busting my office since February, but there is no vaccine, while the US and UK by now are pretty close to running out of people who still want a vaccine.

    It is also not true at all that the EU exports everything vaccine-related. The vast majority of necessary precursors and chemicals come from non-EU countries like India, China, Ukraine, UK. In the EU a final assembly takes place. It’s close to impossible in most parts of the EU to maintain an adequate chemical and pharmaceutical industry anymore due to pretty extreme environmental protection requirements and other regulations. Most of the industry was outsourced years ago so that the EU can paint itself another halo.

    And even if what you write were true, it is a sign of extreme mismanagement and shortage economy when you export things that are extremely scarce in your own country. Until now, this has been more typical of countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea and other countries in Africa and South America.

  7. Gravatar of anon/portly anon/portly
    13. May 2021 at 08:52

    “Resident assistant,” i.e. back in their college days.

  8. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    13. May 2021 at 09:45

    Anon, You said:

    “Resident assistant,”

    Never met one, and didn’t know they debate politics.

  9. Gravatar of anon/portly anon/portly
    13. May 2021 at 12:55

    “Never met one, and didn’t know they debate politics.”

    I think the implication was that the person calling the RA was not asking for assistance in the debate, but instead looking for the person they were debating to be sanctioned or punished.

    I.e., as when Yglesias’s colleague at Vox went to Vox HR and complained that they felt “unsafe” because Yglesias had signed the Harper’s letter, this sort of person might have taken similar steps back in their college days, with the RA’s being the relevant authority figure, apparently.

  10. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    13. May 2021 at 15:02

    Can the world get any more depressing? What is wrong with people? Why wouldn’t an RA laugh at someone like that?

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