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Why An EU-Libya Deal Would Be No Good

Although the EU-Turkey deal caused seemingly endless troubles, everyone seems to agree on one thing: the deal worked. It managed to drastically bring down refugee numbers. For the new Maltese EU presidency, this seems justification enough to replicate it, just that this time the chosen partner is Libya.

With his new proposal, up for debate at the EU Council on 3 February, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is trying to tie up a deal that would make Libya one of the EU’s closest partners in migration control. However, the price of this partnership would be high. It would not only mean a final goodbye to Europe’s commitment to human rights, but it would create further tensions both inside and outside Europe.

The timing of the proposal makes sense, with Malta just assuming the rotating EU presidency, and the migration influx expected to start in the spring. In order to prevent what he calls a “new migration crisis”, Muscat claims Europe has to act quickly and decisively, with pragmatism taking precedence over idealism. In concrete terms, this means negotiating and funding a deal with Libya in which the Libyan coastguard, de facto dependent on whichever warring faction rules the coastline, would be responsible for turning around boats before they reach international waters. This is supposed to drive down numbers, and disrupt the business of smugglers. In return, reception centers would be opened in Libya, allowing asylum seekers to apply on the spot, with the lucky ones accepted receiving safe passage over the sea. Yet, what sounds reasonable in the beginning, is ultimately heavily flawed.

Continue reading at Vocal Europe.

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Free Trade Doesn’t Depend On Multilateralism

For the first time since the end of the Second World War, multilateral institutions are losing their influence regarding open trade.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has gone into hibernation after the failure of the Doha Round, and the European Union (EU) — long regarded as a pro-trade force — is facing its own local protectionist pressures. The EU’s difficulties in ratifying the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada, and even Brussels’ recent attempt to restrict the free movement of labor to satisfy Western Europe’s protectionist claims against Eastern Europe, show how the EU trade agenda is challenged.

Moreover, in the United-States, the election of Donald Trump marks the beginning of a new protectionist era. Trump considers both the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) as contrary to America’s interests. He asked for a renegotiation of NAFTA and even mentioned the possibility of withdrawing from the WTO.

The recent nomination of Peter Navarro, an economist well-known for his hostility against China’s growing commercial influence, as head of the newly created National Trade Council confirms the will of the new administration to engage in a new “trade war” — reflecting the old mercantilist bias that views international trade as a zero-sum game.

Continue reading at FEE.

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Two Years After Charlie Hebdo Attack, Free Speech Still Threatened

Today’s Young Voices Podcast features Young Voices Executive Director Casey Given and YV Advocate Dan King on the state of free speech in France since the attack on Charlie Hebdo in 2015 and the future of free speech in America under Donald Trump’s presidency.

The Young Voices donate page is now up and running, and be sure to follow Young Voices on Facebook and Twitter.

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Bernie Is Blind to Compassion without Compulsion

During the confirmation hearings for Representative Tom Price’s appointment as Health and Human Services Secretary, Bernie Sanders took aim at Price’s claim that America is fundamentally compassionate. “No, we are not a compassionate society … In terms of our relationship with poor and working people, our record is worse than virtually any other country on earth,” the junior senator from Vermont claimed.

On 2016’s doozy of a campaign trail, Bernie Sanders focused his attention less on societal values and virtues — whether, for instance, we as a whole people act virtuously or otherwise — and much more on the size and scope of government programs and regulations. But the question of whether Americans act compassionately is distinct, and one Sen. Sanders gets wrong. Americans as private moral individuals are rife with the virtue of compassion. And this is not in spite of our wealth and relative freedom, as some might suggest, but because of it.

Sen. Rand Paul, for his part, addressed Sanders’ claim with statistics. At $400 billion dollars in 2014, and similar numbers annually, private individuals and organizations donated more than the GDP of many nations. Paul then compared that figure with “socialized” countries of the sort Sen. Sanders often professes a desire to emulate.

Here, Paul was plainly defining compassionate behavior as something individual moral agents display. The compassion of America is displayed through the generous actions of people. The paradigmatic case of this is in people like Bill and Melinda Gates, whose charitable foundation has received billions of dollars from the couple.

Continue reading at FEE.

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The Case against the American Bar Association

On Friday, January 6, the for-profit Charlotte Law School announced it will remain open despite the Department of Education’s decision to withhold the school’s access to student loans. The crackdown follows the American Bar Association’s (ABA) decision to similarly clamp down on law schools with low bar passage rates.

There’s plenty of bad things to say about law schools that overcharge students, especially the poorly qualified sort who have a meager chance of getting a good enough legal job to pay back their student loans. With the second-highest tuition in North Carolina, Charlotte Law is certainly the overcharging type. Yet most people don’t consider that the real cause for exorbitant tuition and poor outcomes for law students is both the mandatory bar exam and the ABA’s monopoly on legal accreditation.

At law schools, the debt problem is exacerbated by the dim employment prospects awaiting graduates. More than 10 percent of law students find themselves without a legal job following graduation, and that number seems low when one considers that it conceals poor employment outcomes and large debt loads concentrated in low-tier schools.

Continue reading at FEE.