Erik Voeten

Recent Articles

Detailed Campaigns

One of the complaints about the Republican Convention that will surely be repeated when the Democrats gather in Charlotte is that newly uttered proposals sound great but lack sufficient detail to be evaluated seriously. Who is going to do precisely what to Medicare? How much of what government services are going to be cut? It may be useful to look at a comparative example to ponder how more information could change the nature of campaigns. In the Netherlands each party provides excruciatingly detailed party platforms. No-one expects that voters will weed through all of this. The information needs to be translated into something more directly useful to voters. There has been a proliferation of on-line programs (and apps) similar to Project VoteSmart that help voters make choices based on answers to a set of policy propositions.There are at least four popular general ones (here is one in English ) and there are also more targeted programs for the elderly , kids , cannabis lovers ,...

When Is Judicial Behavior Political?

(Flickr / s_falkow)
The debates about Chief Justice Roberts’s motivations for his health-care opinion rage on with new leaks appearing almost every day. Randy Barnett responds to Jonathan Adler’s attempt at showing that Roberts’s opinion is quite consistent with his past judgments: But this does not [make] his bending himself into a pretzel to uphold a law when the screws were put to him any less political. [..] 8 justices acted on principle: 4 on good principles and 4 on bad principles. This probably reflects the majority view among legal scholars, although they differ on precisely which four justices acted on “good principles.” Nonetheless, to imply that this principled behavior is non-political is a bit silly. Indeed, Barnett writes that: It is hard to imagine Republican politicians citing John Roberts as the type of justice they favor nominating in the future (as many did up until now). Whether or not the decision does lasting damage to the Constitution and the Court, however, itself will depend on...

Defining Decline

I am delighted to welcome Michael Beckley’s response to my earlier post on China and the United States. I may write a brief response later this week. ************************* Is the United States in relative decline to China? In a recent article in International Security, I say no. In a post on this blog , Erik Voeten says yes. Who’s right? The answer is: we both are, but only by our own definitions of decline. I define decline as a narrowing of gaps in wealth, innovation, and military capabilities between the United States and China. Voeten defines decline in terms of economic growth rates. Voeten and I come to opposing conclusions because the United States is growing at a slower rate than China while simultaneously becoming wealthier, more innovative and more militarily powerful. How can this be? Normally economic growth rates dovetail with changes in wealth gaps. But these measures often diverge when comparing a rich country like the United States to a poor one like China. Since...

Conventional Wisdom About China's Economy is Wrong

Daniel Drezner has an interesting post arguing that tales of U.S. decline and China’s ascent are wildly exaggerated. The post contains lots of interesting analysis but this quote from Michael Beckley ’s new article (see here for Andrew Sullivan’s analysis) in International Security had me scratching my head: The widespread misperception that China is catching up to the United States stems from a number of analytical flaws, the most common of which is the tendency to draw conclusions about the U.S.-China power balance from data that compare China only to its former self. For example, many studies note that the growth rates of China’s per capita income, value added in high technology industries, and military spending exceed those of the United States and then conclude that China is catching up. This focus on growth rates, however, obscures China’s decline relative to the United States in all of these categories. China’s growth rates are high because its starting point was low. China is...

The Death of Kim, Jong-il: Grounds for Apprehension

We are delighted to welcome the following guest post from Patrick M. Morgan , the Tierney chair in global peace and conflict studies at the University of California Irvine. Among others, he is a specialist on deterrence and a founding member of the Council on U.S. Korean Security studies. (Full disclosure: Pat is also my father in law.) *************** While anticipated, Kim, Jong-il’s death could turn out to be quite problematic. Efforts at contingency planning have been underway in various places for some time because numerous actors have a strong interest in what happens. But those actors disagree sharply on what they want to happen, and have therefore done much of their planning without closely consulting each other and in some secrecy. The ones in North Korea have been particularly restricted in this regard, but those in Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, Washington, and even Moscow are certainly not ready to say what is to come next and not ready to say for certain how they will react to...

Pages