Mutualize Uber?

I’m writing to note that, while I really appreciated Mike Konczal’s fantastic piece “Socialize Uber” [Dec. 29], which advocates the restructuring of app-based ride-sharing along worker co-op lines, the title is misleading. In common usage, “socialize Uber” suggests that the state should take ownership of and run the service. However, what Konczal advocates is not that, but instead the reorganization of Uber-esque services along cooperative lines, which is “mutualization,” not “socialization.” Unfortunately, the mistitling of this wonderful and important piece in a way that invokes the bureaucratic disasters of the Cold War era undermines the article’s ability to reach a critical mass of people in a moment when its message very much needs to be heard.
Matthew Cropp
burlington, vt.

I say this as a form of encouragement, not as snark: the Uber and Lyft apps are not rocket science. An enterprising anarchist or communalist who knows how to code apps can create a national ride-share cooperative tomorrow. Yeah, the servers, the insurance, a small staff and some advertising will cost a comparatively small amount of money, but start in New York City, Chicago or Los Angeles and expand outward as the budget allows. This can be done today. Why wait for the rulers of the Neoliberal Empire to change? Do it now. I don’t know why smartphone technology and the Internet have not already led to multiple worker co-ops. I can see eldercare co-ops, nursing co-ops, package-delivery co-ops… on and on. Let’s make our own revolution.

I thought this was an excellent piece about how to make the “sharing” in the so-called sharing economy real. It probably overstates the ease of making the transition, especially since Uber would fight any “disruption” with every dirty billion at its disposal. But the core idea is great.

What a Mensch!

Thanks for Tom Hayden’s moving tribute to Mario Savio [“Remembering Mario Savio,” Dec. 29]. The one thing I missed reading in the piece was any discussion of the last campaign Savio worked on—the one to defeat California’s Proposition 209 [which sought to ban affirmative action]. We lost that one, along with affirmative action in the state, just days before Savio died of a heart attack at age 53. As a longtime feminist and antiracist activist, I saw the depth of his commitment to all of our intersecting struggles. When other white men of our generation in the anti–Prop 209 campaign appeared stung by the criticism of their racism, Savio stood out once again as the mensch who got it. Humble and nondefensive, he remained an ally for so many of us to the last.
Leslie Simon
san francisco

Too Broad a Brush

There are curious elisions at the end of Barry Schwabsky’s review of the painter Albert York [“Yes, No or Maybe,” Dec. 29]. Aside from the problem I have with elevating this modest and somewhat “outsider” artist to empyrean status, Mr. Schwabsky mentions two people at the end of his review who were witness to York’s “noncommunicative” personality. One, the painter Fairfield Porter, is described as “a fellow Long Islander”—a curious dismissal of a very accomplished artist. (In the 1960s and ’70s, he also wrote reviews for The Nation.) The other, Robert Kulicke, is described laconically as a “painter who ran the frame shop where York worked.” Bob Kulicke was a fascinating, multitalented artist; his small-scale paintings of a single pear or peach were innovative fifty years ago, received critical acclaim, and arguably rivaled Giorgio Morandi and the pallid clumsiness of York’s work. Kulicke and York both exhibited at Davis & Langdale and were part of Roy Davis’s lifelong devotion to their intimist aesthetic. The gallery also exhibited the art of a group of unfashionable realist painters; I was one of them.
Burton Silverman
new york city

Schwabsky Replies

It’s not clear to me what’s dismissive about mentioning that an artist was a Long Islander—that sounds like nothing but Manhattanite prejudice! Living in Suffolk County did no more harm to the talents of William Merritt Chase or Willem de Kooning than to those of Albert York or Fairfield Porter, among many others. As for Kulicke—wherever he lived—the charms of his all-too-self-conscious art have never had much purchase on me. I promise to take another look, though, the next time an opportunity presents itself. But I won’t hold my breath waiting for echoes of Morandi.
Barry Schwabsky
new york city

Make ’em Care!

In “Climate Know-Nothings” in the December 1/8 issue, Mark Hertsgaard writes: “The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that ‘serious, pervasive and irreversible’ impacts await humanity unless greenhouse-gas emissions are slashed and carbon-based fuels phased out almost entirely by 2100.” 2100?!? Who cares? Even my youngest grandchild will probably not be around by then. If you want enough people to care to get something done, you have to tell them what is happening now. The drought in California that’s going to raise the cost of your vegetables this winter. The floods and storms that destroy lives and property now. Your favorite seafood that is being killed off by acidification now.

This and every other liberal magazine I’ve seen address themselves to college graduates who are already liberal. Why don’t you put out a magazine appealing to poor folks and/or high-school kids that presents liberal causes like climate change in ways that are meaningful to them? How do you think the last election would have turned out if the majority of poor and working-class people in this country really understood what the rich wanted to do to them?

Amalie Callahan
rock island, ill.

Nobody Does It Better…

Kudos to Stuart Klawans for refreshing my love of cinema—and, better yet, for reviving the reasons for it. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Keep up the good work!
Steev Beeson
los angeles


Muhammad Idrees Ahmad’s “Courting Disaster” [Dec. 29] erroneously referred to “three large Muslim-majority states: Junagadh, Hyderabad and Kashmir.” Junagadh is a small state, and both it and Hyderabad are, in fact, Hindu-majority.