From the monthly archives:

April 2022

EV charging challenges

by Ingrid Robeyns on April 30, 2022

About a year ago, the old second-hand car that my husband and I bought in 2007 was nearing its end. It had served us very well, but our car mechanic had been warning us for some years that it wouldn’t last for much longer. So we were contemplating what to do; we thought seriously about car-sharing combined with public transport, but for various reasons (the pandemic being one, having a child with special needs another), we decided to buy another car. We gathered information and decided to buy an electric car. The new car has been wonderful – I’ve never really liked driving a car but driving an EV is much more pleasant. And in Utrecht, the city where we live, the local authorities put new electric chargers in the streets at the same pace that new EVs are registered. So, at home we’ve never encountered any noteworthy difficulties with charging.

Until last week, I think we only had positive things to say about our experiences with driving an EV. But then we decided to go to France for a week. [click to continue…]

Russia’s wretched war on Ukraine has been going on for two months now. How have you helped out Ukraine/Ukrainians? While nothing seems enough, there are many ways to pitch in. If you’re in Europe, there are likely refugees in your town. They need help with housing, furnishing their homes, appliances, countless things that make up a household. They may need language help. They may need assistance navigating the system. If your universities are accepting Ukrainian students, they probably need guidance to understand your institutions. If you’re more removed and such in-person help is unrealistic, cash donations are welcomed by many charities.

Inspire others by sharing how you are helping out. If you haven’t yet, do it now. And if you send me your postal address (ukraine-at-eszter.com), I’ll put this postcard, which I created (professionally printed) in the mail for you with my thanks.

For Peace in Ukraine postcard

Sunday photoblogging: Positano

by Chris Bertram on April 23, 2022

I was thinking about this shot from ten years ago the other day, so I dug it out. A little bit early for Sunday, but needs must.

Positano

Return of the Easter Bilby

by John Quiggin on April 18, 2022

In one of my earliest posts on CT, I mention the great Australian divide on Easter confectionary: bilby (cute endangered marsupial) vs bunny (voracious alien pest). It’s been a while since I’ve seen Easter bilbies on sale, but they were back this year, helping to raise funds for wildlife presentation In typical Twitter fashion, the pro-bilby group has divided on the question: Ears first or tail first.

Sunday photoblogging: Bristol reflections

by Chris Bertram on April 17, 2022

Corn Street, Bristol

UK abandons refugees

by Chris Bertram on April 15, 2022

Yesterday was a terrible day for anyone seeking refuge in the United Kingdom, a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Obsessed by a small number of people arriving on its south coast from France, the UK government has signed a memorandum of association with Rwanda under which people deemed inadmissible to have their claim for asylum assessed by the UK will be transferred to Rwanda to be dealt with under the Rwandan refugee system. Boris Johnson, for whom this announcement conveniently deflects attention from a finding of criminality against him, expects that tens of thousands of people will be sent to Rwanda. One of the claims made in support of the deal is that Britain’s capacity is not unlimited, but the proposed solution is to dump people in a much smaller and poorer country.

As usual ministers are trumpeting the lie that the UK has a “proud record” of refugee protection, whereas in fact the UK takes a very small number of refugees compared to neighbouring countries such as France and Germany. The UK recently set up bespoke schemes for Ukrainians, Afghans and Hong Kong Chinese. Hardly any Ukrainians have arrived and many have faced formidable bureaucratic obstacles in getting a visa; Afghans cannot apply from Afghanistan and those that arrived in the evacuation following the fall of Kabul are now languishing in poor conditions in overcrowded hotels. As a performative measure to show how much he cared about Ukrainians, Johnson apppointed a new minister for refugees, whom he then neglected to inform about the deal with Rwanda.
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French election update

by Chris Bertram on April 14, 2022

As Crooked Timber readers are probably aware, the first round of the French election ended with sitting President Emmanuel Macron in the lead, followed by crypto-Fascist Putin-fan Marine Le Pen in second place, narrowly ahead of left-wing anti-globalist Jean-Luc Mélenchon in third place. Everyone else was pretty-much nowhere, although ultra-right Pétain fan Eric Zemmour won the vote among French citizens living in Israel, which is, er, interesting. With the field down to two, the big question is whether Mélenchon voters will transfer in sufficient numbers to Macron rather than going to Le Pen or not voting at all. Mélenchon himself has called for his supporters not to vote for the far right, but has not recommended a vote for Macron instead. This is a continuation of his stance in 2017, although in the past he backed right-winger Jacques Chirac against Marine’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen.

The anxiety, stoked by every journalist who has a story to write (since it is really the only “angle”) is that Le Pen might win because of Mélenchon transfers and abstentions. The polling doesn’t really support it, although it is worryingly close for anyone with memories of Trump and Brexit. Many journalists think that there is a sufficient hatred of Macron on the far left for Mélenchon’s voters to abstain. Well, what’s rational and what people will do are two different things, but my view is that such a refusal would be quixotic. The revival of the left in France – if such a thing is possible – relies on the opposition to Macron coming from the left, and in terms of numbers, Mélenchon has laid a foundation for that. But if Mélenchon supporters sit on their hands and Le Pen does well in percentage terms, coming as close as, say, 48 per cent, then the effective anti-Macron opposition will be identified with the nationalist right. So, paradoxically, the best prospect for a left-leaning opposition to Macron over the next five years comes from him defeating Marine Le Pen as decisively as possible.

Sunday photoblogging: Pézenas archway

by Chris Bertram on April 10, 2022

Arch

On Tuesday, I discovered that the Oxford Handbook of Political Philosophy has 23 chapters (the introduction included), of which 20 have been written by political philosophers based in the USA, 2 by political philosophers then based in the UK who have in the meantime moved to the USA, and 1 chapter by a duo of political philosophers based in Oxford. And while this is a pretty striking case, in many if not most handbooks authors from the USA and the UK are numerically dominating.

I’m not going to argue why this is undesirable. If you think this is not a problem, then you don’t have to read on. I have very little time right now, so I’m going to focus on solutions, rather than trying to convince those who haven’t been part of this conversation before on why this is a problem.

But for those of us who think this is a problem, the question then is what to do. [click to continue…]

The coming French elections

by Chris Bertram on April 4, 2022

France is an odd place to be at the moment, because we are two weeks out from a very important Presidential election and you really wouldn’t know it on the street. The regulation posters are there, side-by-side, but otherwise postering and stickering is minimal: I’ve seen more from an obscure Marxist-Leninist sect than I have from the campaign favourite, Emmanuel Macron. And in the little town where I am, there were no campaigners at all at the Saturday market where I’ve seen people demonstrating for all kinds of political causes (most recently the anti-vaxxers) quite regularly.

The current situation is that Macron, the incumbent, is out in front and almost certain to qualify for the second round and that he is likely to joined by far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. The challenge from the ultra-right Eric Zemmour has faded badly, but it is just possible that Le Pen might be pipped by the far-left populist Jean-Luc Mélenchon of La France Insoumise. The traditional parties are nowhere with Anne Hidalgo, the Socialist Party candidate, heading for a derisory single-digit score. Yannick Jadot, the Green candidate, who to my mind is the most attractive candidate politically, will also get single digits. The overwhelming victor is likely to be abstention, as apathetic voters just stay at home.
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One of the consequences of Brexit is that British people are more limited in their freedom of movement. Whereas previously they could travel, work, retire, settle in other European countries, today the default is that they can only visit the Schengen area for 90 days in any 180 day period and lack rights to work. EU citizens are similarly more limited in what they can do than before, though only with respect to the territory of the UK. (Irish citizens, being part of both the EU and a common travel areal with the UK, are uniquely privileged).

I mention these facts purely as an entrée to my main subject, which is to begin thinking about the positive value of free movement across borders, a topic that is little considered by political philosophers and theorists and is low down the agenda of many politicians, who are more concerned with keeping out the unwanted and security at the border than they are with the liberties of their own citizens to travel, settle, work elsewhere and to associate with people in other countries and of other nationalities than their own. I take it that all of these liberties are valuable to a person and enhance their autonomy for the same reason as the freedom to travel within a country’s borders is valuable.

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Sunday photoblogging: Clifton, Richmond Dale

by Chris Bertram on April 3, 2022

Clifton: Richmond Dale