Outside Reading — The Care Divide edition

Mobile morgues in El Paso, Texas. (via)

Who Dies by Sarah Jones

As the national tragedy of the the COVID-19 pandemic has amassed miseries, it has also exposed a multitude of flaws in our existing systems. Many of these flaws are basically known to the monied individuals in power, but they’ve deliberately, maliciously obscured them because they like the way the table is tilted in their favor. For New York, Sarah Jones writes about the drastically different levels of care — and basic consideration — in the upper strata of society and those who go about the challenging business of actually keeping the country running on a daily basis. In the writing of it, Jones shared a personal — and heartrending — story.

The election shows the United States is a broken country by Sarah Kendzior

Now that the election is all over but the wailing (and we’re guaranteed an exhausting amount of wailing that, as a bonus, severely compromises the ability of the incoming administration to do the work they were elected to do), it’s worth remembering that the welcome outcome of Biden winning the presidency is far from the whole story. Tens of millions of U.S. voters looked at the cruelty, open bigotry, and general ineptness of the current occupants of the White House and gladly raised their hands to request four more years of that poison. I’m infuriated about the constant string of news stories framed around talking to unyielding zealots of an uncommonly corrupt human being, but we do need to reckon with the broken parts of our shared society — especially the parts that have been broken intentionally for the personal gain of venal oligarchs — that led so many to make such a delusional and destructive choice. Writing for The Globe and Mail, Sarah Kendizor does an exceptional job examining our national wounds.

It’s Okay to Be a Sore Winner by Jessica Valenti

As soon as it became clear that Biden was the winner of the presidential election, certain pundits and political figures rushed to declare that it was important for the Democrats to “reach across the aisle” and actively listen to and respond to the desires of voters who preferred the Republican candidate. This imperative — usually presented as a moral necessity rather than a political choice, mind you — is only invoked when Democrats win. (Here is a good place to parenthetically note that Democrats have lost the nationwide popular vote for the presidency only once across the past thirty years, a span that encompasses eight elections.) At this point, the Republicans can’t even bring themselves to publicly acknowledge the legitimacy of a free, fair election that didn’t go their way. For GEN, Jessica Valenti argues against extended unearned graciousness to the people who have gleefully, maliciously demonized their political opponents for years.

A Beneficiary Studies the Impact of Having a Monthly Basic Income by Sally McGrane

Properly indoctrinated into glorious superiority of capitalism, I’m instinctually skeptical of the campaign to offer a universal basic income in the U.S. That’s on me, though. When I really think about it, I can see the logic to that sort of economic investment in the citizenry. (And, it should be noted, that a reduction of required hours from the workforce is was the precise predicted and promised outcome when automation — both mechanical and computerized — started rolling out in the country decades ago.) In The New York Times, reporter Sally McGrane profiles a German entrepreneur who’s moving beyond conjecture to study the actual impacts of offering people the safe, supporting starting point of a guaranteed monthly payment.

What is a beloved pre-happy hour ritual? by Chris Lay

One of the most basic tenets of journalism is finding a unique local angle on a national story. Chris Lay does exactly that for this piece published by Tone Madison. In response to the death of Alex Trebek, Lay writes about a longstanding tradition at venerable Madison establishment Crystal Corner Bar. When Jeopardy! comes on, the jukebox cuts out and the assembled patrons watch intently, eventually competing for a free drink when Final Jeopardy takes place. This is a bar I know well, and Lay expertly captures the feel of the place. Crystal Corner, like a lot of places in our COVID-19–ravaged state, is closed indefinitely. It makes me sad to know that the regulars won’t be able to watch Trebek’s final run of shows together, perched on bar stools and waiting for the chance to see if their deep knowledge will be enough to earn them a round on the house.

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