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What matters now. A publication from Medium about politics, power, and culture.

THE ECONOMY

For the first time in decades, it’s a worker’s market

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

There is an unspoken agreement between Williams Sonoma and its store-level employees. In exchange for wages well below the poverty line, workers get discounts on the company’s upscale kitchen supplies. My wife’s employment there a few years ago is a case study on wage inequality.

Shortly after we relocated to North Carolina in 2012, my wife worked as the assistant manager at a local Williams Sonoma. Like many of the company’s employees, she was there primarily for the discounts. The employee discounts were as much as 40% off. …


It’s in America’s self-interest to vaccinate the world

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The U.S. is adding even more vaccine doses to its already-impressive stockpile, with drugmaker Moderna announcing yesterday that it had sold another 200 million doses of its mRNA Covid vaccine to the U.S., bringing total American orders of the vaccine to a half billion doses. That’s good news for the U.S. — the doses could be used to vaccinate children in the fall, or could potentially be used as booster shots. But it also underscores how much more it — and other rich countries — could be doing to help vaccinate the rest of the world.

That may seem like…


Good news/bad news

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Today, three — yes, THREE — different drivers flipped me off because I had interfered with their right to 1)drive very fast on the wrong side of the road or 2)park their car in the active lane at a car wash or 3)fail to yield at an exit-only lane. I was thrilled. Finally, the pandemic is ending! Finally, the goodwill brought about by tragedy and disaster has worn off!

I’m not kidding. The warmest, most genuinely communal feelings I’ve ever been part of have all come amid disaster. Example #1: The Northridge Earthquake in Los Angeles, which I experienced because…


No one voted to let the former president off for slander to deny sexual assault allegations

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She probably wouldn’t remember me, but around the time Barack Hussein Obama made history, I was seeking employment from columnist E. Jean Carroll in the dismal state that was the media industry during its digital-fueled implosion in the midst of the Great Recession.

“Michael, you are stunningly funny!” she wrote in one of the more polite rejection emails I received in that era. “You KILLED with your application to AskEJean’s Dope Astrology. I received 496 submissions and you made it into the TOP 12!!” …


A human right, commodified and rendered zero-sum.

The pandemic housing bubble has multiple, complex causes among them:


West Virginia will reward its vaccinated residents with new guns, attempting to dissolve one pandemic by aiding another

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West Virginia has had an especially challenging time enduring the Covid-19 pandemic. Although the state’s positivity rate is currently at a low since spiking last October (4%), nearly 600 new cases are being reported daily, with more than 200 infected residents hospitalized. In the midst of America’s fight against the coronavirus, these numbers have stained the Mountain State with a poor man’s status. Add to that an oppressive statewide hospital bill—one that West Virginia intends to deflate with a syringe.

West Virginia’s vaccination rate (49%) ranks 45th among all states (Vermont ranks first with 82% of all eligible citizens vaccinated)…


The writer who coined ‘Xennial’ on the attempts to describe this unique cohort

Photo: Daniel Schludi/Unsplash

It’s strange, having a public but evidently forgettable claim to fame. Like being the Guinness Book of World Records holder for longest pinkie nail or voicing a one-hit wonder limited to local radio. Yet over the last month, my social media pinged repeatedly with people insisting I get credit for describing the cusp of us at the inflection point between Gen X and millennial, Xennials.

Four years ago, that’s all I’d wanted.

Truth be told, this batch of tweeters seemed mostly angry that someone had the temerity to describe our cohort of Xennials as “geriatric.” A story on Medium rocketed…


Why do I love the dark stuff so much?

Photo by Max Kleinen on Unsplash

Like most of the world, I just finished watching Mare of Easttown. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a murder/police procedural set in small-town Pennsylvania. The end of Mare gave me time to return to my ongoing show, Ozark, which is not a murder show per se, but the body count is reliably high. My favorite shows over the last few years have largely involved murders, too: Happy Valley (which really should have been named Unhappy Valley), Broadchurch, Spiral, Trapped, Homicide.

Before I fall asleep at night, I usually catch a few minutes of a murder podcast; my current one…


Vaccination mandates are the new political battleground. And now cruise lines are caught in the middle.

One of the most important stories in American politics right now is the growing fissure between Republicans and big business, which historically was the constituency that Republican politicians, at least, were most invested in protecting. The tension between the GOP and big corporations arose because of the emergence of what’s sometimes called “woke capitalism,” with companies taking positions at odds with Republicans on issues like LGBTQ rights, abortion, and, most recently, voting rights. But now that tension is being aggravated by a new issue: Covid vaccination requirements.

Even as widespread vaccination has helped bring down Covid infection, hospitalization, and death…


Republicans got all the concessions they asked for with the insurrection commission bill, yet McConnell wants to block it anyway

Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Shortly after the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, members of congress from both parties condemned those involved. Former president Trump was impeached for a second time over his role in inciting the violent mob which overwhelmed Capitol police and stormed the federal seat of government.

At the time, then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell placed the blame for the violence that left six dead and dozens wounded squarely on Trump. But as time has gone on and political calculations have been made, McConnell has changed his tune.

For months now, lawmakers have been discussing a congressional investigation…

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