Five Best Wednesday Columns

Harold Meyerson on the downside of right-to-work, Adam Ozimek on the upside of right-to-work, Maureen Dowd on Zero Dark ThirtyFrancisco Toro on Venezuela after Chavez, and Soner Cagaptay on Turkey.

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Harold Meyerson in The Washington Post on the downside of right-to-work Michigan has become the 24th state to legalize so-called "right-to-work" measures, which bar unions from collecting mandatory fees from workers. Harold Meyerson doesn't think workers have won anything with this new "right" at all — he thinks they've lost weight in the fight for a fair wage. "Defenders of right-to-work laws argue that they improve a state’s economy by creating more jobs," writes Meyerson, citing studies that show evidence to the contrary. "In short, right-to-work laws simply redistribute income from workers to owners."

Adam Ozimek in Forbes on the upside of right-to-work While he doesn't argue that individual workers will financially benefit from the new law, Adam Ozimek tentatively argues that right-to-work laws could provide a much-needed boost to the Michigan economy. "One thing is clear," he writes, arguing that contracts with mandatory fees limit worker choice, "right-to-work laws are far from the ideal labor market reforms, and we'd be better served by looking at more fundamentally reforming the National Labor Relations Act. But so long as we have the labor laws we do, right-to-work probably does increase economic freedom on net."

Maureen Dowd in The New York Times on the women behind Zero Dark Thirty The upcoming film Zero Dark Thirty has kickstarted a fierce debate about torture, but Maureen Dowd doesn't want that to overshadow the film's heroine, based on a real C.I.A. operative who spent years hunting down Osama bin Laden. "Bigelow, the driven director who tells the story of the driven operative, says she felt as if she’d been dealt 'a royal flush' when they discovered a young woman at the center of the Osama hunt," writes Dowd, who also commends the director for her trailblazing in a heavily male field. "The glamorous 61-year-old, the first woman to win a best director Oscar, for The Hurt Locker, has become Hollywood’s unsentimental premier chronicler of war."

Francisco Toro in The New Republic on Hugo Chavez Venezuela's controversial leader may not be long for this world—Chavez's second bout of cancer may be fatal—but the country's many illnesses will live on, argues Francisco Toro. "The reality is that, like every pol who's managed to survive a decade and a half of splits and purges within the Chávez movement, Nicolás Maduro is a political minikin, part of the flotsam left behind after every Chávez supporter of substance and integrity either walked out or was thrown out," Toro writes pf Chavez's likely successor. "What's clear is that Maduro lacks any source of legitimacy apart from the president's favor, and that inevitably raises questions about his electoral viability."

Soner Cagaptay in The Atlantic on Turkey As the optimism of the Arab Spring turns sour in countries like Egypt, Soner Cagaptay warns against looking toward Turkey as a model of moderate democracy for Islamic nations. Reflecting on modern Istanbul, Cagaptay writes, "Turkey's Islamization is a fact, but so is secular and Westernized Turkey. But the historical roots and current manifestations of this synthesis indicate that it is a model that will be difficult to replicate elsewhere in the region, as Islamist governments rise to power after the Arab Spring."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.