Ready to debate California’ failure

So we now have the speaking order at next Tuesday’s Oxford-style debate in New York about the motion:

California is the first failed state.

In the opening remarks, which are 7 minutes each, I go first, followed by former governor Gray Davis. The full line-up is as follows:

  1. FOR–Andreas Kluth
  2. AGAINST–Gray Davis
  3. FOR–Sharon Waxman
  4. AGAINST–Van Jones
  5. FOR–Bobby Shriver
  6. AGAINST–Lawrence O’Donnell

In the closing remarks (2 minutes each), the line-up is:

  1. AGAINST–Lawrence O’Donnell
  2. FOR–Andreas Kluth
  3. AGAINST–Van Jones
  4. FOR–Sharon Waxman
  5. AGAINST–Gray Davis
  6. FOR–Bobby Shriver

May the audience be edified.

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39 thoughts on “Ready to debate California’ failure

  1. Very interesting! Will the video be posted online for people to watch for free?

    P.S. I noticed the “Purchase DVD” button and hope that is not an indication that we won’t be able to watch the video online for free. I hope the sponsors and media sponsors will take care of the cost already.

    • This is so cool. Thank you (and event organizers & the sponsors for it).

      I am looking forward to watching it and likely blogging it and embedding it on my site too (with credit to you, of course).

      Have fun. And good luck! (Thinking more, my California friends may not be happy with me in wishing you luck, knowing what you are arguing for! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Since you are in the “For” category, may I ask if you have written the state off? That it cannot recover from its financial woes without federal assistance?

    I am only tangentially interested in California, I lived there (mostly) between 1966 and 1986. I have a son, two beautiful granddaughters, and an ex-wife living there (causing mixed feelings), my current wife was born and raised there and most of her family is still there.

    • “Written the state off?”

      That’s a slightly different question than the proposition I’ll be defending, which simply says that CA is “a failed state” (which itself needs to be parsed).

      By contrast, you only write something off when you believe that the entity cannot make a fresh start AFTER failure.

      Not to mix contexts, but you do realize that I’m writing a book about how success and failure are … impostors.

      I’ll have more to say about all this, but I’d like to say it after the debate, so as to keep the ammo dry. ๐Ÿ˜‰


      The above article is quite an interesting read (I found it through links tied to links automatically generated). It does a fairly good job of painting the state in a depressing light. Understandable, I suppose, at this point. Though it does not explain all the factors that have brought California to its present economic condition. If one has lived there over a period of time, they may have a better understanding of the path California has taken.

      I would be interested, after the debate, in your impressions of Gray Davis and Van Jones.

  3. Are you to defend that CA is “the first failed state”, or merely “a failed state” (given the existence of Louisiana and Mississippi this distinction may prove important).

  4. With a GDP comparable to that of France, this ex land of opportunities I have some sentimental connection with too and, last but not least, a daughter having had her master at UC Berkeley but not having being able to get nothing but an internship at Comcast, in SF, because of job crisis. California will though rise up again, together with the rest of the US economy, I believe. It will be interesting to see you in a public debate, Andreas.

  5. Good Morning from the desert!

    Thank you all for your kind thoughts and good wishes for my mother’s recovery. She is making good progress and will recover. And they caught the hit and run person.

    Now on to the topic at hand:

    This opportunity to debate the proposition above couldn’t be better timing for you, Andreas. The subject of your book, with the stories of history & people facing success and failure as imposters, is at the root of both the cause and the solution to many of California’s governmental problems. And to think you can debate in New York, publishing capital, home to book reviewers…

    The proposition isn’t written clearly, perhaps for debate? First or failed? Which is more important?

    It would be better if your bio on the debate website summarized your upcoming book by including the words success and failure, don’t you think?

    Have fun in New York.

    • Thank god about your mother.

      I hope the driver gets more than an earful.

      I can’t bring up my book in the debate. I’ve done a little exercise, speaking my points out loud. Do you know how LITTLE you can say in 7 minutes?

      And from then on, it’s back and forth in one-minute segments or so.

      Tight discipline. I can’t waste a single word.

      If you feel like it, parse the “first” and “failed” for me.

      (And yes, I’m aware that my opponents could be reading this. ;))

    • On the your bio that appears on Intelligence Squared, your book is summarized by your tag line, Thoughts deep and shallow about triumph and disaster in life, through the eye of Hannibal the Carthaginian. I was suggesting that the summary should include the words success and failure since not only do you address these imposters in your forthcoming book, but also these terms–at least the term failure–are part of the proposition for the debate. Very cool synchronicity here…not surprising to me.

      About the proposition itself: Was it written to indicate that a.) California is a failed state or that b.) California is the first failed state, which seems to infer other states have also failed?

      The answer to these questions seems important in that if other states have, indeed, failed, then a rubric exists to define failure in a state government.

    • Very good news about your mother.

      I do not see the semantic problem between simply “failed” and “first failed”. The only thing “first failed” says is that other may follow. Now, if the question is “Is California the first failed state?” then the question to be debated becomes two-fold: “Have there been failed states before in the US?” and “Is California a failed state?”
      One might also say an implied sub-topic would be “define a failed state.”

      @Andreas, I am always surprised how much can be said in a short period of time (say, 30 seconds) so I was a bit amused by your worry about the shortness of 7 minutes. I am reminded of the MC doing a quick wrap-up and learning, to his horror, he still has 5 minutes to fill.

      I suppose context is important since you are setting a position that you will need to defend. The most work is in building the foundation.

    • I’d like to de-emphasize the “first” except to interpret it as a cautionary tale: Ie, watch out, other 49, if you’re not careful you’ll end up like California.

  6. Nomen est omen. Why can’t the good people of California take a simple clue? Obviously, California was meant to be run more like a caliphate, not a democracy, hence the name.

    Still, one way to help the state may be to raise taxis. Cabs moving along too close to the blacktop place an enormous burden on any economy. Is it surprising that New York City is in fiscal trouble as well, given its tens of thousands of low taxis?

    I may not be able to singlehandedly save California, either, but a little common sense couldn’t hurt.

    • @Peter Ah ah, I loved the burden of the taxis.

      Nomen est omen …Obviously, California was meant to be run more like a caliphate.

      Well, Terminator has the perfect physique du role, as Caliph and all. Also some alleged misconduct reinforced that idea lol. But he’s a good guy, as far as I know.

    • right, what is it they say? the only things certain in life are death and taxis, or is that death by multi tasking taxis… oh that’s the previous blog.
      best of luck andreas! enjoy new york

    • Since Prop 13 in 1978, California requires a 2/3 majority in both houses of the legislature to raise taxis. because the Republicans are blocking this supermajority, our taxis are practically dragging on the asphalt. That’s why there are so many potholes.

    • Ah ah, Andreas. Off topic, in your WordPress picture you look English, in your Intelligence squared on you look German. I’m puzzled. The debate movie will likely solve the dilemma.

    • One never knows, Andreas. Your eyes a bit Vietnamese in fact.

      I’ll tell you, I’d wouldn’t mind you to look German, being some German-ness you might have kept that attracts me (the core more than the look, of course).

      Btw, is any core still left, or the darn Anglos have totally moulded you? ๐Ÿ˜‰
      [also wondering which part of Germany your parents are from]

      I love Germania – let me rant – they being the deepest people in Europe:

      o Vaterland! Allduldend …
      aus deiner Tiefe die Fremden ihr Bestes haben!

      I really hope the California debate was a big success, but, let me confuse the discussion a bit, I’m a disciple of the Germans also (too many mentors, I know) and love Scardanelli of course – those verses above you might have recognised (wonder why he chose an Italian nick when he got crazy, no jest intended).

      The Germans somewhat remind me of the ancient Greeks, too many things in common, while the Victorians seem more to me the spiritual heirs of the Romans.

      The mystical spirit of the Germans (unluckily transmitted to me a bit) – made them closer imo to a truly (tho nordic) lived Greek paganism. How could MoR resist?

      Hรถlderlin-Scardanelli again:

      Seliges Griechenland! du Haus der Himmlischen alle …
      Unempfunden kommen sie erst, es streben entgegen
      Ihnen die Kinder, zu hell kommet, zu blendend das Glรผck.

      So truly Greek, though metamorphosed into … Germanitas (I know, it’s kinship, but I liked that)


      All the best
      From debased
      Southern West

  7. @Andreas

    In fact I don’t think Schwarzenegger was that responsible for this state failure – like spending too much state money for his serraglio – something common in Berluscoland alas. I’ve always liked Schw, also because I often go to Badgastein, not so far from Graz.

    Spending your ammo at the end of the debate (the book, California’s failure is an imposter etc.) could be a good move.

    • Yes, I’m fond of Arnold too. He’s not to blame for the mess the state is in. The reasons are quite complicated, and I’ll try to lay them out on Tuesday…

  8. I expect that as I write this, on Sunday afternoon, you are anxiously doing some final cramming (sparring?) since your debating opponents are heavyweights. I don’t envy you.

    Anyway, good luck on Tuesday. I look forward to seeing the video.

    • Oh no, I never cram. Much better to show up spontaneous and on one’s toes. Nothing worse than a prepared and rehearsed spiel that puts everyone to sleep.

      Also, opponents being heavyweights is a GOOD thing, no? They make a bigger thud when they fall to the ground. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. I posted this potentially embarrassing message (for you (and may be me)) on the event FB page. Hope you had a lot of fun debating tonight. May the best arguments win!


    Go Andreas Go!

    P.S. Can’t justify flying to NYC from Calgary (money and airport securities) to watch this debate live but it should be an interesting debate to watch when the video is posted online later (hopefully soon).

  10. Enjoyed the debate last night. I agreed with your definition of failed state and thought it framed the debate well. Also, the italian example illustrated the point quite well. I also believe the question is pointed to failed state govt, obviously the people of the state cannot fail, that would be oxymoronic.

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