Inmates are housed in three-tier bunks in what was once a multi-purpose recreation room at the Deuel Vocational Institute in Tracy, California. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
—Aaron Cantú focuses on the War on Drugs and mass incarceration, social inequality and post-capitalist institutional design.
“With 2.3 Million People Incarcerated in the US, Prisons Are Big Business,” by Liliana Segura. The Nation, October 1, 2013.
Liliana Segura calls attention to a new video series “Prison Profiteers,” a collaboration between Beyond Bars, the ACLU and The Nation that exposes the businesses and people who are most enriched by a thriving Prison Industrial Complex. She goes on to reveal some of the groups that have a vested interest in keeping prison cells full, including a callously exploitive telephone service provider, a criminally negligent prison healthcare company and—most outrageous of all—a private prison corporation that asks its clientele of governors to “keep their [prison] facilities up to ninety percent full” in exchange for its services.
—Owen Davis focuses on public education, media and the effects of social inequality.
“The Ethic of Marginal Value,” by Peter Frase. Jacobin, October 1, 2013.
Frase picks apart the mainstream-economics response to the conundrum, as formulated by David Graeber, that “the more obviously one’s work benefits other people, the less one is likely to be paid for it” (think of nurses versus advertisers). In so doing, he casts marginal utility theory as an ethical theory rather than the empirical description of the world it purports to be.
—Omar Ghabra focuses on Syria and Middle Eastern politics.
“If It Happened There … the Government Shutdown,” by Joshua Keating. Slate, September 30, 2013.
This brilliant, thought-provoking piece parodies the way the American media portray events taking place in other countries by applying the same rhetoric they typically use exclusively when writing about others to the current crisis in Washington DC. It’s as entertaining as it is insightful.
—Hannah Gold focuses on gender politics, pop culture and art.