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  1. Opinion

Here’s what to read from the left and the right this week | Commentary

Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
A Popeyes chicken sandwich. [ERIC GAY | AP]
Published Sep. 1

We live in a partisan age, and our news habits can reinforce our own perspectives. Consider this an effort to broaden our collective outlook with essays beyond the range of our typical selections. Jim Verhulst of the Tampa Bay Times editorial board compiled these summaries.

FROM THE LEFT

From “A Popeyes Chicken Sandwich Under Socialism,” by Miles Kampf-Lassin in Jacobin.

The context, from the author: Popeyes’ new chicken sandwich is great. The fast food industry’s labor practices are not. Under democratic socialism, the entire working class would benefit from the spoils of such culinary delights.

The excerpt: On the front lines of this fried chicken chaos stand the very workers being paid starvation wages. Without allowing tips or any mechanism to pass down the financial gains from this surge in business, the launch of the chicken sandwich has become a curse rather than a gift for Popeyes’ workers. ... A democratic-socialist future promises a world where both the labor required and earnings produced by culinary fads like the Popeyes chicken sandwich could be used to make workers’ lives better while seeding the returns into programs that build a more vibrant (and delicious) society. Far from stamping out ingenuity or thwarting entrepreneurship, a system of worker control and social rights could provide more time and space for ordinary people to develop new recipes and concepts that could lead to the next Popeyes chicken sandwich. Rather than paying for investors’ glitzy villas, the money made through fast food sales could be reinvested into publicly provided education and cooking classes.

From “Even David Koch’s Philanthropy Was Toxic,” by Jeet Heer in the Nation.

The context, from the author: Like other plutocrats, from Andrew Carnegie to Jeff Bezos, the late billionaire used charity to legitimize inequality.

The excerpt: (Andrew) Carnegie outlined a vision of society where the wealthy are allowed to earn as much as they want but improve the world in general through charity. “Great inequality” is acceptable, Carnegie argued, as long as the rich give back. ... (But) we don’t live in the 19th century. We should move beyond the sentimental hopes of a Charles Dickens, who dreamed of convincing the Ebenezer Scrooges of the world to abandon miserliness for do-gooding. Our goal should be to tax the Scrooges so that the Tiny Tims can enjoy Medicare for All.

From “Millennial Parents Are Failing Their Children,” by Elliot Haspel in the New Republic.

The context, from the author: Parents of young kids need to get serious about climate change. And that starts by showing up to vote.

The excerpt: For millennial parents, this is personal, as personal as it gets: Our kids will suffer. It will be our fault. And we will be around to watch it happen. Our children’s hardship will be our fault not because we used plastic straws or slacked on recycling, but because we stood by as profit-driven corporations continued pell-mell down the path of destruction, and as our political leaders failed to act. It will be our fault because we didn’t flex their political or consumer muscle to collectively lift the oil tanker poised to crush our children. Ten or twenty or one hundred million parents worldwide holding hands and jumping at the same time can create an earthquake powerful enough to reshape the economic and political topography.

FROM THE RIGHT

From “No, the Electoral College Is Not ‘Affirmative Action’ for Rural Voters,” by Tara Ross in the Daily Signal.

The context, from the author: The Electoral College creates balance in our political system in many ways—and this unexpected balance of power between urban and rural areas is just one of them.

The excerpt: Ultimately, and as a matter of history, the Electoral College rewards those presidential candidates or political parties that do the best job of listening to a wide variety of voters. Those who decided to double down with their base and ignore the rest of the country usually end up losing. That’s a blessing for everyone in our country.

From “Is the Future Vegan?” by Michael Brendan Dougherty in the National Review.

The context, from the author: I don’t begrudge anyone who simply can’t bring himself to eat animals; de gustibus and all that. But some of us do consider vegan arguments and find them unpersuasive as arguments.

The excerpt: Perhaps it is not the muddled moral impulses of meat-eaters that make them uncomfortable with the premises of veganism, but the convictions of vegans themselves, which seem to require moving the human animal outside of the animal food chain in a way that is possible only because of urbanization and the agricultural revolution.

From “Let Them Howl, Boris!” by Patrick J. Buchanan in the American Conservative.

The context, from the author: Whatever may be said of him, (British Prime Minister Boris) Johnson has shown himself as a man of action, a risk taker, a doer, like Trump, who has hailed Johnson for the suspension. And leaders like Johnson are today shouldering aside the cookie-cutter politicians to dominate the world stage.

The excerpt: One recalls the counsel that Benjamin Jowett, Master of Balliol, gave his students: never retract, never explain, just do it and let them howl! For Johnson has done what he was chosen, and what he pledged, to do. Though he lacks a majority for a “no-deal Brexit,” his suspension of Parliament keeps faith with the hardline Tories who put their trust in him—that he would honor his commitment to get done by October’s end what the British people voted to do in 2016.

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