What Would You Do If You Could Reinvent Government?

That’s the question that will be on every ballot in a week’s time in New York.

Every twenty years, NY voters have the opportunity to vote on holding a constitutional convention. If a majority of voters vote yes, each state senate district will elect three delegates to the constitutional convention (in addition, several are nominated to represent state-wide interests). The delegates will hash out changes — anything from a few words added, removed or updated all the way to a full re-write of the entire document. Those changes are then brought before voters again at the ballot box, and if a majority support it, those changes are ratified.

While California ballot propositions technically could do something like this, it’s rare to have the

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Why Millennials Won't Run For Public Office

Two stories collided for me this weekend. The first was from Austria, where 31-year old Sebastian Kurz led his People’s Party to an electoral victory, driving that country harder to the right. Kurz was formerly the foreign minister of the country, a job he began at the advanced age of 27 years old. Assuming that negotiations with his coalition partners don’t upset the process, he will become the youngest sitting head of government in Europe.

Interestingly, this somewhat matches the meteoric rise of Emmanuel Macron in France, who assumed the presidency at 39 years old. While two countries is hardly statistical valid evidence, it is striking that Europe seems to be priming a new generation of politicians for leadership.

Meanwhile, in the United

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Why is American Disaster Recovery So Bad?

Like many people, I continue to look at the devastation in Puerto Rico, California, Houston and Miami with a mix of shock, horror, and resignation. Twelve years after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, it seems that we have barely made any progress on how to respond to disasters in a timely fashion.


An initial challenge that I think goes overlooked is that it is really hard to quantify disaster recovery. Sure, Puerto Rico’s government has put together a nice dashboard with their progress, but what exactly are we comparing it to? What’s the benchmark? 15% of households currently have power in Puerto Rico — is that good or bad? Maybe the federal government is doing a fantastic job bringing

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Economic Nationalism and China: The Right Issue for 2018 and 2020?

I just finished up this Bloomberg article on Steve Bannon about his “war” on the Chinese as part of his economic nationalism policy agenda.

The key quote from Bloomberg:

In Bannon’s view, China is harming the U.S. by engaging in unfair trade practices, such as the forced transfer of U.S. technology to Chinese companies. While many experts agree, Bannon has a more dire view of the consequences. “There have been 4,000 years of Chinese diplomatic history, all centered on ‘barbarian management,’ minus the last 150 years,” he says. China’s historical disposition toward trading partners, he contends, is exploitative and potentially ruinous. “It’s always about making the barbarians a tributary state,” he says. “Our tribute to China is our technology—

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The Strange Politics of Independence Movements

For those who have been paying attention to the press this past week, there have been two interesting independence movements, both involving breakaway provinces from strong U.S. allies. In Spain, Catalonia staged a vote this weekend, and in the northern reaches of Iraq, the Kurds held a vote earlier this week. In both cases, the central governments worked feverishly to annihilate the vote, and are now working overdrive to undermine their legitimacy post-ballot.

I get why central governments want their nations to remain whole, so it hardly surprises me that Spain and Iraq are using such aggressive tactics to squelch these movements. What is more surprising to me (or depressing depending on how you look at it) is how strongly the U.S. is

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