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Jim Verhulst - Editorial Writer
Here’s what to read from the left and the right | Column
Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, left, distributes meals to Julie Gomez Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in Houston. The mayor distributed Operation BBQ Relief's 9th million meal, since 2011, to Gomez. The City of Houston, in collaboration with CrowdSource Rescue, Operation BBQ Relief and the Salvation Army served hot meals to those still impacted by last week's Severe Winter Storm Uri. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, left, distributes meals to Julie Gomez Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in Houston. The mayor distributed Operation BBQ Relief's 9th million meal, since 2011, to Gomez. The City of Houston, in collaboration with CrowdSource Rescue, Operation BBQ Relief and the Salvation Army served hot meals to those still impacted by last week's Severe Winter Storm Uri. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) [ DAVID J. PHILLIP | AP ]
Published Feb. 28
Updated Feb. 28

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.

FROM THE LEFT

From “It’s Not Just Texas. The Energy Meltdown Can Happen to Your State, Too,” by Nathalie Baptiste in Mother Jones.

The context, from the author: Climate change is a scientific phenomenon but our response to it — not to mention many of its causes — go back to politics. Once again, Texas has laid bare the dangerous pitfalls of an ideology that regards regulation as a dirty word and corporate greed as a value.

The excerpt: The Republican officials who were more concerned with profit than providing a service to their constituents should be blamed for the disaster in the Lone Star state. But the real lesson isn’t that red states will suffer while blue ones are safe, but rather that we’re all vulnerable, regardless of the electoral habits of our communities. Don’t let the GOP’s monopoly on ignoring climate science trick you into believing that a Texas-like tragedy can’t happen in your liberal enclave. It already has. And it will happen again.

From “Private Equity’s Ownership of Nursing Homes Is Killing Senior Citizens,” by Julia Rock and David Sirota in Jacobin.

The context, from the authors: A new study reveals some grim consequences of Wall Street’s move into senior care: Between 2004 and 2016, more than 20,000 Americans died as a consequence of living in nursing homes run by private equity firms.

The excerpt: Private equity firms typically take over existing corporations with borrowed or investor money and then impose cost-cutting measures to maximize revenues — often in preparation for selling off the newly stripped down firms at a profit. In the health care sector, private equity buyouts have been associated with lower staffing levels, more frequent citations for health and safety violations, shortages of supplies like ventilators that are crucial for COVID-19 patients, and other failings tied to the constant imperative to cut costs.

From “We Must Change the Way We Measure Economic Health,” by Jhumpa Bhattacharya and Andrea Flynn in The Nation.

The context, from the authors: Our primary focus should be on improving the lives of our most marginalized — and without an arbitrary price tag.

The excerpt: Throughout the pandemic and its accompanying recession, our tepid response, in consort with institutional racism and sexism, has not protected Black and brown women from being pushed out of the labor market at a shocking rate, while their families and communities experience disproportionately high COVID-19 death rates. ... Faced with these circumstances, can we fear doing too much? A better question is, What will it mean for race and gender inequities and the stark imbalance of power in America if we don’t do the absolute most we can to rectify the failings of our past and present?

FROM THE RIGHT

From “Why Universities Should Not Be Anti-Racist,” by Mark Mercer, writing at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

The context, from the author: I say that universities should not involve themselves in any anti-racism initiatives at all. It is not the business of a university to combat racism or to call it out or to promote racial justice or harmony. In fact, enlisting itself in anti-racist struggles cannot but turn a university away from its academic mission.

The excerpt: Let me remind us that the point of the university as an institution is to protect and promote academic endeavors. The university should use its resources to support the academic mission of investigating, interpreting, and evaluating the things of the world. These resources should be distributed fairly and on academic criteria alone. Since race is not an academic criterion, it should not be used in deciding resource allocation. My key thought in rejecting anti-racist initiatives is that to distribute resources on any grounds other than academic need or merit is for the institution itself to rank a non-academic value or end above its academic mission.

From “Eric Swalwell’s White Male Privilege,” by David Harsanyi in the National Review.

The context, from the author: There is nothing that Democrats can’t reduce to crass racial terms these days.

The excerpt: (Instead of bemoaning Neera Tanden’s failing nomination to head the Office of Management and Budget), Rep. Eric Swalwell might tell women of South Asian descent that they’re already incredibly successful Americans. He might tell them, among other things, that thanks to their high educational attainment and strong work ethic, Asian Americans have higher household incomes than any other group in the country (over $87,000 per year, on average); that, among Asian Americans, Indian Americans have the highest household incomes of all, at over $126,000, and that they are followed by Taiwanese Americans, Filipino Americans, Indonesian Americans, Pakistani Americans, and so on; and that Asian American women topped white men in average earnings for the first time last year.

From “Don’t Boycott The 2022 Olympics Because They’re In China,” by Doug Bandow in the American Conservative.

The context, from the author: Forcing athletes to stay home might feel good but it would do nothing to improve Beijing’s approach to human rights.

The excerpt: A solitary, or almost solitary, holdout by the U.S. might make some people feel righteous, but it would likely be counterproductive. It would look like a politically motivated bout of moral vanity at the expense of athletes who would lose the opportunity to compete. (It is easy to argue on behalf of a supposedly noble cause if someone else is paying the price.) Worse, a unitary action would highlight America’s isolation, even impotence, making any future effort at coalition building more difficult. Finally, Beijing would feel emboldened, more convinced that no one was prepared to confront even its worst behavior.