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Jim Verhulst - Deputy Editor of Editorials
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.
Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen testifies during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing entitled "Protecting Kids Online: Testimony from a Facebook Whistleblower" on Capitol Hill, Oct. 5, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Haugen left Facebook in May and provided internal company documents about Facebook to journalists and others,...
Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen testifies during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing entitled "Protecting Kids Online: Testimony from a Facebook Whistleblower" on Capitol Hill, Oct. 5, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Haugen left Facebook in May and provided internal company documents about Facebook to journalists and others,... [ ANGERER DREW/POOL/ABACA | Abaca Press ]
Published Oct. 30, 2021

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 “Wage Theft at Restaurants Is Getting Worse,” by Andrea Guzman in Mother Jones.

The context, from the author: As if restaurant workers weren’t already suffering enough during the pandemic from lost hours and angry customers, many of them have also had to contend with not being paid for all of the hours they’ve worked.

The excerpt: In a September survey of 238 tipped workers, more than a third of workers reported that their tips and additional wages fail to bring them up to the state’s minimum wage. And while almost half of tipped workers reported not being fairly compensated for overtime, women were 10 percent more likely to report not being paid time and a half. Even when employers that underpaid workers pay back stolen wages, they’re often only required to pay back a portion of them.

From “I Hope Everyone Is Prepared for Kyle Rittenhouse to Go Free,” by Elie Mystal in The Nation.

The context, from the author: Even if Kyle Rittenhouse somehow draws an impartial jury, he has already won the white people’s lottery and landed a very partial white judge.

The excerpt: We do not live in a just world, we live in a white one. Rittenhouse (who shot two people dead in the street in Kenosha, Wis., during the protests that followed the shooting of Jacob Blake in 2020) has become a cause célèbre among white supremacists and their media sympathizers who have proudly defended Rittenhouse’s decisions to kill. Rittenhouse is the very definition of an “outside agitator” who came into somebody else’s community armed to do violence, but because he murdered-while-white, he will probably walk free.

From “The Antisocial Network,” by Dominic Preziosi in Commonweal.

The context, from the author: The public surely benefited from hearing about Facebook’s practices from a former insider (Frances Haugen), information the company would rather keep to itself. ... Haugen also revealed that the company still emphasizes a metric known as “meaningful social interaction,” promoting controversial, hot-button posts — like divisive political speech and misinformation — that drive emotionally fueled engagement and are far more widely viewed. In short, Facebook prioritizes profit over safety.

The excerpt: What Congress could do is follow the lead of European regulators, who have been far more aggressive in holding tech companies to account.

FROM THE RIGHT

From “In Defense of Qualified Immunity,” by Sen. Tom Cotton in the National Review.

The context, from the senator: Qualified immunity is essential to effective and diligent policing. It shields good police officers from bankruptcy while still subjecting individual bad actors to personal financial repercussions. Any effort to abolish or significantly curtail this indispensable protection is a veiled attempt to defund, defame and disarm the police.

The excerpt: In all likelihood, the practical result of eliminating or significantly curtailing qualified immunity would be fewer police, less enforcement and more crime. This is the true goal of most critics of qualified immunity. They are seeking to covertly “defund the police” without ever saying those words. They must not succeed.

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From “When No One Is Paying Rent,” by Carmel Richardson in the American Conservative.

The context, from the author: The eviction moratorium hit mom-and-pop landlords hardest.

The excerpt: Per the latest data from the 2018 Rental Housing Finance Survey, 48 percent of the 48.3 million rental units in the United States in 2017 were in properties with between one and four units. Most of these properties are owned by individuals and run by the owners: 77 percent of all two-, three-, and four-unit properties are run by small-time investors who often will live, or have lived, in the property they currently rent. These are the “mom and pop” landlords: relatively young, managing perhaps two or three but typically only one rental property as an investment venture on the side. They compose more than three quarters of the small unit rental market, and nearly half of all rental unit owners. They are, in (one expert’s) estimation, the worst hit by the eviction moratoria.

From “Political Speech for Human Dingleberries Has Never Been More Robust,” by Tim Miller in The Bulwark.

The context, from the author: There might be a “cancel culture” chilling effect out there, but it isn’t chilling performers.

The excerpt: Never in the history of the world have more human dingleberries had larger platforms to spew deranged nonsense about politics than they do right now, at this moment. We are in a golden age for fools with political views outside the mainstream. ... The breadth and depth of this speech is so vast that someone who hasn’t engrossed themselves in internet political culture might have no idea of its reach. If you are over the age of 35, there are people on YouTube and Twitch and TikTok that you have never heard of who have significantly larger audiences for their radical political ravings than the most preeminent policy journals had during your formative years.

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