Workers Are Not Inputs

Re “McDonald’s Has a Real Sexual Harassment Problem” by Bryce Covert [August 10/17]: Economic evolution over the past 30 years or so has created a world in which people are considered inputs for production in the same way potatoes are for french fries: They are fungible and easily replaced.

Whether the issue is sexual harassment, racism, or any other form of demeaning behavior, there is little incentive for McDonald’s or its franchisees to change their behavior or policies as long as the power structure is dominated by an employer, with little real power in the hands of workers.

With the economic disruption of the current pandemic, the time for organized labor to expand its shield for workers is now.

Adam Charney

Starving the Beast

Re “Will the Left Get a Say in the Biden Doctrine?” by David Klion [August 10/17]: The only way that the US military monster will be cut down to size is a total financial collapse that will cut off the revenues necessary to support it. Neither party has any interest in reducing military expenditures. And we are not far from that collapse, like all empires that drown in their own arrogance.
Michael Robertson

Trump’s Disordered Personality

Katha Pollitt [“An Unhappy Family,” August 10/17] continues to seek a better understanding of Donald Trump, as we all do, but Mary Trump’s book about her uncle evidently falls a bit short. The diagnostic categories cited in her book do not fit nearly as well as narcissistic personality disorder. Theodore Millon’s chapter on it in Disorders of Personality: DSM-IV and Beyond clarifies much for me about Trump, his chaotic administration, his incompetence with the Covid-19 pandemic, and what we should fear if a serious international conflict erupts. Anyone who reads that chapter will likely be enlightened.
Gary Johnson

Taking Back Control

Re “How to Define a Plague” by 
Sonia Shah [July 27/August 3]: Much of our media coverage, like the germ theory itself, tends to foster an anxious, passive victim mentality. It is good to be reminded of the ways we may take action individually and as a society and how we can lessen the impact of future outbreaks. As Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, much that is distressing about this outbreak—the inadequacy of our health care system and the income gap, for instance—is not new; it is just showing up more clearly during this emergency.

Some of these things are within our control.

Christiane Marks
chatham, n.y.