Stop the Rot!

I’m sure John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney are correct about the threat to democracy posed by money [“Dollarocracy,” Sept. 30]. But I have grown weary and apathetic reading about the powerful rich and how they are buying America. Most Americans, like me, feel more and more helpless in the face of monied power. Tell us how to fight for democracy! (And don’t say, Go out and vote. We do that.) Until you can give me a solution, no more articles on democracy sliding into decay.

Virginia S. Anderson
ellijay, ga.


Run Over on the Runway

Elizabeth Cline, in “Fashion Models Are Workers Too” [Sept. 30], says, “After failing to get the attention or support of traditional labor unions, [Sara] Ziff decided to form her own labor group.” In fact, when Ziff came to us, the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA), the union that represents opera singers and ballet dancers, we immediately agreed to help her group. Because the way models are paid through their agencies disguises the identity of the real employer, traditional unionization is not possible. Instead, we (in partnership with Actors Equity) advise and support the Model Alliance and staff its reporting system to help models with claims of abuse.

Cline also refers to models as independent contractors. In fact, they are employees and have none of the indicia of independent contractors. They are treated as independent contractors by duplicitous agencies and clients to avoid payroll taxes, benefits and protections. Models are treated the way dancers were treated decades ago: abused, harassed, exploited and denied the benefits of collective bargaining. Ziff, the Model Alliance, AGMA and Equity are working to change that.

Alan Gordon
new york city


Diapers: The New Luxury

Katha Pollitt’s “When Even Diapers Are a Luxury” [Sept. 30], on the inability of low-income women to pay for diapers, makes one wonder how many of the lawmakers who voted to deny food stamps are the same ones who closed Planned Parenthood clinics where these women could have obtained contraceptives that might have obviated the need for diapers.

Maryjane Raabe
denver

Why are necessities like diapers and feminine hygiene products not covered by SNAP and WIC!? @SarahLWharmby

Cloth diapers are not the province of the well-off, as Katha Pollitt says. When our baby was born, we were barely scraping by. I washed the diapers by hand in the bathtub on a washboard and clipped the wet diapers to our fence to dry. Disposable diapers are the biggest polluters. So I suggest using cloth diapers. It can be done.

Annie Littlewolf
blacksburg, va.

In an economy where both parents need to work to sustain the household, how are parents supposed to deal with the fact that daycare will not accept cloth diapers, and most in-house daycare providers won’t deal with the hassle of cloth diapers?

When people make anachronistic comparisons of the daily necessities from past decades to today, they miss the fact that in the past four decades median income relative to the cost of living has fallen and households cannot maintain the same standard of living on one provider’s income. These are macroeconomic changes, written in policy and law. They cannot be addressed by telling the poor to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, because the structural changes of the past forty years have cut off the bootstraps.Sam Duncan

Will definitely be assigning this to my UBST class on poverty and affluence. @lydpidkid


Students Always Come Last

As a retired teacher, I appreciated Pedro Noguera’s “Beyond Silver Bullets” [Sept. 30]. Why do the so-called reformers keep pushing their silver bullets? One need only Google “Milton Friedman” and “privatizing education” to see that he and the benighted Chicago School have for decades dreamed of and planned to privatize public education, on which hundreds of billions are spent each year. What shark-capitalist could resist—especially when there’s the cover of helping kids?

David Grodsky
new berlin, n.y.


Pedro Noguera illustrates the fallacies of school “reform.” We face a barrage of fraudulent information about the supposed crisis in education. Reform mandates from the government are counterproductive and harm children. Tests without feedback to teachers are meaningless. Reform policies must be based on empirical evidence and support a unitary, locally controlled democratic system of education.

Donald C. Orlich
pullman, wash.

co-author, The School Reform Landscape: Fraud, Myth, and Lies


As long as urban schools are underfunded, and the needs of students are not addressed, these so-called reform measures will be as meaningless as all the other miracle plans. And when parents and students say no to testing, then maybe the education bureaucrats will have to find another way to play the game.

One young man I know, having excelled in high school, refused to take the state assessment test, declaring that his course work should be sufficient to demonstrate his proficiency. He didn’t get the diploma, but that didn’t prevent him from accepting a full-ride scholarship to an elite school. Tests are not for the benefit of the students, but instead ways to manage schools.

When will we put kids first?

Rev. Linda Carter


Ditch the Bells & Whistles

I’m a longtime reader of and cheerleader for The Nation. But I protest your visual “updating” with a proliferation of centered boldface columns and pages of charts and data, sometimes both together. They are distractions from what’s important about your magazine—a human voice smartly and compassionately telling a human story in depth. Please rethink your design decision; you don’t need such bells and whistles.

Philip Dacey
minneapolis