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Maximilian Held

researches, teaches and advocates (progressive) tax reform and (deliberative) democracy. Twitter Facebook Google+ LinkedIn Github Stackoverflow

Latest Posts


Asana, maker of e-mail free collaboration software and “work graph”, on its future:

Imagine this: the year is 2016. It’s the beginning of the day and you’ve just arrived at work. You sit down at your desk (assuming that having a desk is still a “thing”) and open Asana. What do you see?

I’m the biggest fan of e-mail-free-collaboration; but to be fair, Asana also has an ulterior motive here. E-Mail is an open standard. Asana, inspite of all the API-magic of the world, is not, meaning a future in which collaboration is free of email, but full of Asana, also means great revenues for Asana Inc. and (potential) lock-in for users.

So here’s a radical idea for Futurasana 2016: Why not open source (much of) Asana, so as to really make it future-proof and open. Nothing wrong with making a dime, of course – maybe Asana could go the way of and make money on the (proprietary) social graph and the convenience of hosting, all the while keeping user data and software open?

Open-sourcing can also, of course, jumpstart developer creativity and help make any one software the de-facto standard (again, think git).

I want to love Asana. Just like in, say, 2002, I loved Outlook. Didn’t work out for the both of us, and we had an ugly divorce, with lots of data lost. I don’t want to be in that situation again.

Give and Take -- Progressive Taxation & Deliberative Democracy

Taxation and democracy can be thought of as two sides of the liberal-democratic, capitalist social contract: Democracy concerns the making of collectively binding decisions, and taxation is the chief means to implement these agreed-upon plans within the market exchanges of free agents. Taxation thereby delineates the boundary of private property and collective responsibility, but it also shapes the material conditions under which citizens exercise their political autonomy. Taxation and democracy, along with their mutual dependencies and contradictions, in short, are deeply implicated in social scientific questions of rule and power, social integration and inequality.

As institutions, they are also the (only?) site, where progress might happen. This seminar looks at two such reform proposals, equally radical and pragmatic: progressive taxation and deliberative democracy.

The Grass, its Green, and the Other Side -- Comparative Social Sciences of Democracy, Welfare, Media, Administration, Political Culture and Economy

This course is still in planning.

“The most dangerous outlook on the world is the outlook of those people, who have not looked at the world.”
– Alexander von Humboldt

Liberal democracy, market economies and their institutional correlates, it turns out, come in different varieties. Even within the OECD-world of rich, developed nation states, democratic rule (Lijphart), welfare states (Esping-Andersen), media landscapes (Hallin & Mancini), administration (Hood), political culture (Inglehart & Welzel) and economic systems (Hall & Soskice) vary widely. Using both empirical data (a posteriori) and deductive reasoning (a priori), positive comparative research in political science and beyond has distilled these differences into patterns, that often track deep ideological divides (e.g. liberal vs. conservative) and roughly map geography (e.g. continental vs. anglo-american). This seminar surveys some of the recently prominent comparative work (“the other side”, figuratively speaking), provides a preliminary understanding of the nature and genesis of the institutions (“the grass”) under investigation, and ultimately subjects these varieties to a selective normative critique (concerning their “greenness”).