Holiday gift guides are usually painfully dull. Writing for The New Yorker, Helen Rosner avoids the usual listing of marginally interesting wares for sale with glib descriptions. She instead fills the article with personality that give her opinions an added authority. I have no need for a piece of bread repurposed into a decorative light, but Rosner almost has me convinced that no home (or at least stack of meticulously wrapped gifts beneath a bauble-adorned tree) is complete with one. Arguably the best part of the article, though, is the portion of the introduction devoted the gift that absolutely should not be given, a verdict rendered with appropriately withering wit.
America’s Dairy Farmers Are Hurting. A Giant Merger Could Make Things Worse. by David Yaffe-Bellany
This news story, which was in today’s print edition of The New York Times, touches on a topic of great interest to my home state. Reporter David Yaffe-Bellany lays out the questionable practices of the Dairy Farmers of America, a co-op that seems more interested in shoveling money into their own coffers than protecting the family farms they’re supposed to serve. And matters could get worse if the DFA follows through a plan to acquire dairy food giant Dean Foods, currently mired in bankruptcy proceedings. The article is about one sliver of the greater agricultural industry, but it gets at a pervasive problem in the current U.S. economy. Everything is rigged in favor of conglomerates, and anything created by small, independent operators to help them get ahead will be quickly and heartlessly stomped out. As my state’s good and honorable U.S. senator pointed out, Wisconsin has seen over eighteen hundred dairy farms go out of business in the past three years. There are many factors behind the loss of these farms, but there’s little question that greedy monsters with the means to manipulate national systems in their favor are exacerbating the problem at the expense of regular citizens trying to earn a modest living.