Black Lives More Than Matter
Thank you for continuing to focus on the effects of racism and the impunity with which police and armed citizens kill African-Americans. However, there is a point that hasn’t attracted much attention: when our society discards or destroys black lives, whether through denial of voting rights, the school-to-jail pipeline, outright murder or the bias of the “justice” system that convicts, imprisons and executes blacks in numbers out of proportion to their percentage of the population; when “we” discard those black lives, we deprive our society of their intelligence, talent, skills, creativity, generosity, capacity for love—and genius. Our society needs all of those good qualities. Discarding them is not just criminal; it is incredibly foolish.
Sharing Is Creepy
What we see in Airbnb and Uber [“What the ‘Sharing Economy’ Takes” and “Uber the Job Destroyer,” Feb. 16] is evidence of a forage economy, where the vast majority pick through the wreckage of what was once prosperity. This, of course, is exactly what the phrase “creative disruption” actually means. The next step is the landfill.
new london, n.h.
In addition to the very good points Jon Liss makes in “Uber the Job Destroyer,” I don’t like Uber for another reason. It is moving in on an established service that is regulated, based on years of experience, to keep passengers safe and to ensure nondiscrimination. The Red Top cabs in Arlington, Virginia, have been my salvation on many trips to visit relatives there. I use a motorized wheelchair and don’t drive. In San Francisco, I rely on accessible vans to go places unreachable by public transit. There are regulations that require the fleets to make some of their vehicles accessible and require universal safety tie-downs for wheelchairs. The drivers are trained. Uber doesn’t or can’t provide anything equivalent.
There are three ways of organizing an economy: individually run, government-run or worker-run. Individually run is capitalism, both with benefits and flaws. Government-run hasn’t been all that successful. Worker-run (or -controlled) has been tried on a small scale with good results, as a general rule. Could it work on a national basis?
The Root of the Problem
In “The Roberts Court at 10” [Feb. 16], the writers refer to Justice Samuel Alito as someone who “has written some of the most radical decisions of the past nine years.” A radical in mathematics is the square root sign, and a radical in life is someone who is attempting to get to the root of a problem. I’d hope that the editors of a truly radical publication, which The Nation surely is, would help its contributors to understand the difference between reactionary and radical. Neither may be mainstream, but clearly Alito is not a radical.
As another Southerner who was radicalized by the Vietnam War and other movements of the 1960s, I appreciated James Gustave Speth’s essay “How I Became a Radical” [Feb. 16]. However, it took a Depression and World War II to get Congress to seriously tax the wealthy. Wall Street sit-ins, etc., show that the spirit of the ’60s survives, but not at the scale of a national movement. The conservatives were caught napping during the ’60s, but when they awoke, their wealth funded a strong reaction that still prevails.
Frank N. Egerton
One Person, No Vote
Ari Berman’s essay “How to Protect the Vote” [Feb. 9] highlights an important point. States that are making it more difficult to vote may be denying their citizens the right to vote. No one should be expected to stand in line for hours to vote. Easier registration, better voting systems and better access to polling places are needed. Another issue I feel strongly about is giving felons who have served their time the right to vote. Those states that restrict felons from voting once their incarceration has been completed are denying them their ability to partake in our election process. A constitutional amendment is needed to allow all citizens the right to vote.
chino hills, calif.
Pretty scary times we live in when the guarantee of the right to vote is not supported by the very people elected by the voters.
Thoreau said in Walden that “with wisdom we learn liberality.” Judging the Republicans in Congress by that standard, a “Ship of Fools” is indeed in control on Capitol Hill [Feb. 9]. Narrow-minded, inflexible, intolerant bozos are at liberty to wreak havoc with a variety of misguided legislation. Hope for a transformation in 2016.
chula vista, calif.
A Grand Unifying Theory
I was surprised that Samuel Moyn’s essay “New Old Things” [Feb. 9] did not mention sociology as a possible locus of thought for historians, turning instead to philosophy. The essay mentions sociologists Marx, Weber and Durkheim (admittedly also claimed by other disciplines) multiple times and even notes historian Lynn Hunt’s desire for “a theory of the mutual relationship between the individual self and the larger society.” Various such theories have been developed in sociology, not least C. Wright Mills’s notion of the sociological imagination as the key that “enables us to grasp” the relationship between “history and biography” at any given point in time. When I was a working sociologist, I made productive use of social history and still believe the two disciplines have much to offer each other, today more than ever.
Richard Kreitner’s “In Any Way Abridged” [Feb. 9] said that Congress voted to admit Colorado to the union in 1867. In fact, Colorado was admitted to the union in 1876.
In Matthew Lasar’s “Is Pacifica Radio Worth Saving?” [March 2/9], Alan Minsky is mistakenly identified as a former program director for Pacifica station KPFK in Los Angeles; Minsky is still program director for the station. The author also posits that involuntary bankruptcy is the “4 am nightmare” scenario for Pacifica. However, a nonprofit cannot be forced into that situation in most instances.