Jim Verhulst - Deputy Editor of Editorials
Silicon Valley Bank, the First Amendment and Lincoln: readings | Column
Here’s some interesting commentary from the left and the right — the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
What can Abraham Lincoln teach us about the rights of the majority vs. universal human rights? Here, an honor cordon is in place during a Presidential Full Honor Wreath-Laying Ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington in honor of on the anniversary of his birth on Feb. 12, 2022, in Washington.
What can Abraham Lincoln teach us about the rights of the majority vs. universal human rights? Here, an honor cordon is in place during a Presidential Full Honor Wreath-Laying Ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington in honor of on the anniversary of his birth on Feb. 12, 2022, in Washington. [ MANUEL BALCE CENETA | AP ]
Published March 31

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 “Silicon Valley Bank’s Failure Shows Why We Need to Expand Public Banking,” by Julian Larosa in Jacobin at

The context, from the author: Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse was no aberration: hundreds of private banks in the US have failed since the Great Recession. For a more stable financial system that actually meets ordinary people’s needs, we need to expand public banking.

The excerpt: Will the government keep having to bail out reckless banks? In recent years, momentum has been growing for a different solution: publicly owned banks. A first-in-the-nation piece of legislation, the Public Banking Act passed in California in 2019, authorizing cities and regions across the state to begin establishing public banks. Other cities and states have seen public banking gain traction in its wake. The aim is to provide a stable banking source that, free from the whims of private capital, can finance ordinary people and their communities’ various economic needs. There is currently only one public bank in the United States: the Bank of North Dakota (BND), founded in 1919.

From “The Government Subsidizes Electric Vehicles. Why Not E-Bikes?” by David Zipper in Mother Jones (courtesy of Slate) at

The context, from the author: Ditching gas is good for the climate, but ditching cars is even better.

The excerpt: The expanded alliance supporting e-bikes reflects an evolution in the priorities of environmental groups. After focusing largely (some might say myopically) on electrification as a pathway to decarbonize transportation, many climate advocates are ready to lobby for less driving, period — not just less gas-powered driving. It’s an overdue shift that bodes well for the future of e-bikes and public transit — and for the planet. Transportation has long been a major source of greenhouse gases in the United States, with cars and light trucks producing more than half of such emissions. There are two basic ways to address that problem: You can make cars pollute less while they are in use, or you can induce people to drive less.

From “Disability Is Always Someone Else’s Problem,” by Marie Myung-Ok Lee in The Nation at

The context, from the author: Why I’m not celebrating Disabilities Awareness Month.

The excerpt: The general public does not understand that disability services are not bestowed automatically by a benevolent government exquisitely attuned to a family’s needs. It is up to us parents to search out both the funding and the services. Barriers to access include not speaking English as a first language, having a business-hours job and/or multiple children, not having the social capital to understand how the system works, not having reliable Internet access or a phone. My husband and I are both college professors and I previously worked as an investment banker. Even so, successfully acquiring the Medicaid waiver (for our son) was a yearslong procedure.

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From “India Reminds Us Why Our First Amendment Matters,” by Dominic Pino in The National Review at

The context, from the author: The defamation conviction of Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi illustrates why strong protections for free speech matter.

The excerpt: James Madison could point out that this exact episode is why you don’t let the government pick and choose which types of speech to allow in the first place. It will always devolve into partisan squabbling, which will result in selective enforcement against political opponents. ... Some in the United States might look at the wording of India’s First Amendment and find it appealing. India’s actions last week should remind us all why it is not, and why we should be grateful for the strong free-speech protections we have.

From “A Worthy Tribute to Lincoln’s Moral Heroism,” by Sohrab Ahmari in The American Conservative at

The context, from the author: Mention any major domestic dispute — from monopoly power to abortion and Drag Queen Story Hour — and a certain type of Beltway conservative is sure to shrug and say that it’s best “left to local communities.” Right Makes Might — a compelling new online documentary on the Lincoln-Douglas debates — is a potent antidote to such confusion.

The excerpt: The larger point — Lincoln’s — was that if slavery is morally wrong on one side of an internal border, it cannot be right on the other. There could be no federalism on this question, lest the United States collapse under the weight of the internal contradictions created by men like Douglas. ... The documentary raises the question: Which issues today must be subjected to a similarly unblinking moral universalism? Which other rights are so fundamental, they cannot be left to the vagaries of popular majorities?

From “Abandoning Social Conservatism For ‘Horny Bro’ Voters Is A Self-Defeating Strategy,” by Nathanael Blake in The Federalist at

The context, from the author: The “Barstool conservative” philosophy, a selfish focus on sex and pleasure, would only lead conservatism to betray itself.

The excerpt: It is not that social conservatism is utopian regarding sex; we know that the Christian ideal of sexual purity is rarely realized. But it is one thing to push the boundaries, or sometimes stray outside of them, and quite another to insist on their abolition as a matter of principle. A culture can endure a great deal of the former, but not the latter, for it is the negation of civilization, which is based on (and continues through) the stable union of the two halves of the human race. This is why making the horny-bro ethos central to conservatism will destroy the latter.