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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.
Does Bill Gates' new book really contain the answer to solving climate change?
Does Bill Gates' new book really contain the answer to solving climate change?
Published Mar. 6
Updated Mar. 6

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 “Bill Gates Can’t Save the Planet,” by Grace Blakeley in Jacobin.

The context, from the author: Bill Gates is making the rounds promoting his plan to solve climate change. But his new book ignores the fact that the same capitalist system that made him rich is the one killing the planet. We need a working-class environmentalism.

The excerpt: When it comes to climate breakdown, the entire debate is structured around the relative importance of market versus government failure. But the terms of the exchange are all wrong. States and markets aren’t separate terrains governed by different logics: They’re highly interrelated. States construct and act within markets, whether by using the law to set the rules of the game or by using their economic might to shape the production, allocation and distribution of resources.

From “We Don’t Need Andrew Cuomo,” by Jack Crosbie in Rolling Stone.

The context, from the author: The governor has spent years building the impression that he is indispensable in New York and national politics. It’s a myth — and it’s time to call him on it.

The excerpt: Cuomo (has) weathered scandal after scandal and kept a tight grip on the reins of state power through an insidious combination of shrewd politics and sadistic bullying. But his power, like that of many politicians who make decisions that kill their constituents on a daily basis, rests entirely on the public delusion that having him in charge is better than the alternative, that only he can help, and that his potential for victory is worth all of the losses he will cause along the way.

From “‘It Hasn’t Happened in My Lifetime’: A Labor Historian on Biden’s Pro-Union Push,” by Noah Lanard in Mother Jones.

The context, from the author: In a rare move, President Joe Biden signaled that he wants Amazon workers in Alabama to unionize.

The excerpt: On Sunday, Biden delivered a video message in support of unionization and against the tactics companies use to stop it. The video comes as thousands of Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, are facing intense pressure from management as they vote on whether to unionize. Biden didn’t explicitly tell Bessemer workers to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. But it was hard to see the video posted to his official Twitter account as anything less than an endorsement.

FROM THE RIGHT

From “This Whole Thing Really Should Be Over by Memorial Day, Shouldn’t It?” by Jim Geraghty in the National Review.

The context, from the author: It’s a great headline to see: “Biden Expects U.S. to Have Covid-19 Vaccines for All Adults by End of May.” But I hope the Biden administration realizes what it is getting into with this announcement.

The excerpt: By summer, when not being vaccinated becomes a personal choice, as opposed to situation forced by a lack of access to the vaccine, those of us who do get vaccinated are not obligated to lift a single finger to protect those who choose to not get vaccinated. We’re not going to restrict large gatherings. We’re not going to agree to wear masks or make a consistent conscious effort to remain six feet away from everyone outside our household. If you choose not to get the vaccine that millions of your fellow citizens are getting, that’s on you, and you have to live with the consequences of that decision.

From “COVID and The Rise Of Small, Livable Cities,” by Rod Dreher in the American Conservative.

The context, from the author: COVID forced the whole country to realize how much of the work that we do can be done remotely.

The excerpt: (The pandemic) ought to be compelling young people and especially young marrieds to think about the possibilities of relocating to smaller cities where you can still find the good life, but on a friendlier budget. It seems especially true that conservative Christians of the Benedict Option persuasion (that is, Christians in the contemporary West who cease to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of American empire) who are going to be working remotely even after COVID passes should reconsider the feasibility of relocating in larger numbers to more friendly redoubts.

From “1619, 1776 and Us,” by Cathy Young in The Bulwark.

The context, from the author: What the conflict over the New York Times’ 1619 project and the much-mocked Trump commission 1776 report is really about.

The excerpt: The debate about the 1619 Project is obviously about much more than history and historical accuracy, as important as those aspects of the debate are. For many of the participants, it is, at bottom, a debate about racism, liberalism and identity politics in the modern-day United States. It is a conflict in which there are at least three distinct groups: the Trumpian right, which seeks to promote state-sponsored “patriotism”; the progressive left, which wants “white America” condemned as an evil empire; and people on the center-right and center-left who fully agree with the goal of confronting America’s legacy of racial oppression but reject the idea that, as New York Times magazine editor Jake Silverstein put it in his note on the 1619 Project, chattel slavery and anti-Black racism are this country’s “very origin.”