The French Disconnection

Do you want to disconnect from some unpleasant realities these days? Move to France!

No, I’m not talking about escaping to or through the wine, the food, the lifestyle, the whatever.

Instead, as this article explains, France has a new law that allows employees limited rights to disconnect from work communications outside of office hours, without penalties from their employers. The emphasis here should be on “limited,” since it’s unclear whether or how the law will even be enforced.

What’s more, I can’t’ help but wonder whether there will be all sorts of informal pressure on employees to be available. Miss an email and maybe you’re seen as less committed to the company? Ignore a group text and you’re then outside the loop on a big project?

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The Nordic Model: Sanders, Trump and Those Selfish Scandinavians


Say “Nordic model” to most Americans, and they’ll perhaps think of sexy Swedes. The more policy wonkish among us also will focus on how Scandinavia features superb social services, high taxes, affluence and five of the ten happiest countries in the world.

Two things Americans don’t associate with Scandinavia, though, are robust capitalism and selfishness. This recent Atlantic Monthly piece, by a Finnish expatriate residing in the United States, makes a convincing case for why Bernie Sanders has been correct in pushing that model – and for why Hillary Clinton is mistaken in dismissing it when she asserts that “We are not Denmark.”

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Replacing Scalia: Welcome to the Real World


Justice Antonin Scalia’s death has me thinking about South Africa. (Doesn’t everyone think about South Africa when a Supreme Court justice dies?) More specifically, as someone who works on both legal and political issues in developing countries, I’m constantly exposed to the interface between the two. And one of the best studies of that interface is UCLA law professor Richard Abel’s book about using the courts to fight South African apartheid three decades ago.

Without doing full justice (so to speak) to his thesis, suffice to say that his book’s title encapsulates what Abel ably argues: law is Politics by Other Means. Law was used in South Africa as a tool of repression. Nevertheless, human rights lawyers’ somewhat successful litigation there was an element of the much larger battle to undermine the country’s racist government. Law was part of politics.

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