Homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy in the Belle Harbor neighborhood of Queens. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)
—Aaron Cantú focuses on the War on Drugs and mass incarceration, social inequality and post-capitalist institutional design.
“In Banking, Should There Be a ‘Public Option’?” The New York Times, October 1, 2013.
Though the subject may be a bit dry, interest in public banking has risen markedly since the financial collapse of 2008. This edition of the New York Times’s “Room for Debate” features prominent voices in the conversation over state-owned financial institutions. Most interesting are the insights of Pierre Beynet detailing how public banking can address particular needs of a local economy: “Some countries have created public banks to support sectors facing difficult access to market financing, for example small enterprises or start-ups.”
—Owen Davis focuses on public education, media and the effects of social inequality.
“Academy Fight Song,” by Thomas Frank. The Baffler, Fall 2013.
Thomas Frank illustrates how our infatuation with the market and faith in the magic of a college degree has allowed tuition rates to spike, educational quality to suffer and a new administrative class to reap the profits. As students drown in debt, aloof trustees grouse about increasing “strategic dynamism.” Though much higher education writing tends towards the dry and pedantic, Frank writes with wit and vigor, and peppers his essay with sentences like: “When the board forced the president to resign last June, they cloaked the putsch in a stinky fog of management bullshit.”
—Omar Ghabra focuses on Syria and Middle Eastern politics.
“Obama May Have Botched an Earlier Syria Peace Deal,” by Michael Hirsch. The Atlantic, October 4, 2013.
This troubling read sheds even more light on President Obama’s terrible handling of the Syrian conflict. Apparently, the Obama administration willfully bungled a potential deal involving the Russians at a much earlier stage in the war out of fear that it would make the president look weak during his heated campaign against Mitt Romney. As the author points out, the atmosphere was much more conducive to a negotiated settlement then, when Assad was losing ground and the various groups of opposition fighters were significantly less radicalized.