Five Best Monday Columns

On the dangers of hotel housekeeping, requiring voters to produce an ID, and more

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Jacob Tomsky on the Plight of the Hotel Housekeeper  Jacob Tomsky, a long-time hotel employee, understands the "difficult position" hotel housekeepers are in. "They're often alone on a floor, cleaning a vacant room, back to the door, the vacuum's drone silencing all sound," he describes in The New York Times. "A perfect setup for a horror movie." Tomsky notes that "beyond their physical safety," housekeepers are often subjected to accusations of theft and racking up high phone bills. And, of course, being "sexually accosted by guests" which, he laments, happens "more often than you'd think." And, contrary to the common defense that "she asked for it," the only thing any housekeeper he's known really "wants to do is finish up her work and go home to her family." Women put up with this job because "many are union positions" that offer a variety of benefits. However, "for the Sofitel housekeeper, the encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn brought nothing good at all."

Kris Kobach on the Need For Voter Identification  Kris Kobach describes a new Kansas law that requires identification at the voting booth, verified license number, signatures on absentee ballots, and proof of citizenship for new voters. "Voter fraud is a well-documented reality in American elections," the Kansas secretary of state insists in today's Wall Street Journal, listing several examples including an instance in which a candidate "allegedly received more than 50 votes illegally cast by citizens of Somalia" who were coached "by an interpreter at the polling place." Kobach, who also co-authored Arizona's controversial anti-illegal immigration bill, surmises that there are likely hundreds of illegal immigrants registered to vote in Kansas. "Fear that elections are being stolen erodes the legitimacy of our government," he declares. "Carrying a photo ID has become a part of American life. You can't cash a check, board a plane, or even buy full-strength Sudafed over the counter without one. That's why it's not unreasonable to require one in order to protect our most important privilege of citizenship."

The New York Times' Editors on Creating an Emergency Communication System The New York Times' Editors argue that "a communications system that lets emergency responders talk to one another across jurisdictions" is long overdue. Though recommended by the 9/11 Commission after "scores of firefighters perished" when using antiquated radio systems on September 11th, a real system has yet to be created. During Hurricane Katrina emergency workers communicated inefficiently through handwritten notes. "Congress should be haunted by the threat of new disasters finding rescue workers still incommunicado," they argue. The Editors recognize that this will not be easy, requiring most likely "the reallocation of radio spectrum to wireless providers and public safety agencies." But, they argue, it can no longer be delayed by political officials who insist they're working on it. "How many more people will be endangered because of bureaucratic wrangling or political inertia?" they ask.

Michael Herzog on Israel's Own Peace Proposal  Michael Herzog writes at The Financial Times that reports coming out of Washington this week "highlighting the differences" between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu have resulted in "an existing and dangerous deterioration in Israeli-Palestinian relations combined with a new rift with the US that Israel cannot afford." The recent union of Fatah and Hamas is "clearly a marriage of convenience"--the leaders of each side will compete against one another in the upcoming elections--an effort to appear united when petitioning for statehood at the UN. "While this will not produce a Palestinian state, it is likely to isolate Israel and escalate Israeli-Palestinian tensions," he predicts. "The Palestinian Authority is already encouraging a popular uprising against Israel." Israel refuses to work with any Palestinian government that is "unwilling to recognize Israel and renounce violence." So, Herzog suggests, Israel should "propose its own ideas and parameters for peace." Netanyahu should have, "at least in private with Mr. Obama," agreed to the U.S. President's proposal for territorial restructuring. Israel shouldn't compromise its safety, still, "who can oppose Palestinian unity, expressing the will of the people, which we so value elsewhere in the Arab Spring?" Herzog writes, "we should both be empowering moderates and finding ways to test Islamists' commitment to sustained democracy and peace."

Robert Samuelson on Our 'Stubborn Gloom'  We are in a "self-propelled" economic recovery, observes The Washington Post's Robert Samuelson, but "the pervasive post-crisis gloom prevents us from acknowledging it." Samuelson points out that our economy's imbalances in "consumer overspending...the trade deficit...and the housing bubble" are all currently being "overcome by the passage of time, other forces in the economy or government policies." Though, while things seem to be improving steadily, this positive progression is subject to change. "Higher oil prices or other short-term developments could disrupt the recovery; indeed, costlier energy has already contributed to widening trade deficits," he notes. And though unemployment is declining, it's doing so slowly. "The greatest barrier to recovery now could be psychology--stubborn gloom--which conditions household and business spending decisions," Samuelson argues. "Foolish optimism led to the financial crisis and recession by assuming things would work out for the best. Now, reflexive pessimism weakens growth by ignoring good news or believing it can't last."

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