Five Best Tuesday Columns

Jonathan Chait says Obamacare still lives, Bruce Bartlett on the arguments to raise minimum wage, Hilary Levey Friedman on after-school programs, Eugene Robinson on Obama's "immoral" drone war, and George Packer on low Black Friday sales. 

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Jonathan Chait at New York says Obamacare still lives. "The pessimistic takes [on] don’t really deny that the site is better, or that it can become still. The fact that some states that built their own exchanges (like Kentucky) are enjoying a smooth enrollment process shows pretty clearly that the model is fundamentally workable," Chait writes. And most importantly, "there is no existential threat to Obamacare. The failure of the website rollout raised the possibility that the law itself might unravel. Conservatives still believe that will happen. But, then, they thought it would happen even before the website rollout, because they think Ayn Rand novels are an accurate gauge of how government programs generally function," he argues. Mediate editor Evan McMurry tweets, "Nice rundown of where the ACA stands now, optimistic but not rosy-eyed."

Bruce Bartlett at The New York Times on the arguments to raise minimum wage. Some conservatives, like California businessman Ron Unz, want to raise the minimum wage to cut illegal immigrants out of the workforce, former GOP operative Bartlett explains. And "interestingly, liberals have made this same argument. Writing in The New York Times in 2006, the former Massachusetts governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael S. Dukakis and Daniel J.B. Mitchell, an economist at the University of California, Los Angeles, also defended a higher minimum wage partially on the grounds that it would disemploy illegal immigrants." But "the idea that there are beneficial effects to excluding certain classes of workers from employment by having a minimum wage is not a new one. Indeed, early support for a minimum wage during the Progressive Era was based heavily on the expectation that it would price women out of the market," Bartlett explains. Justin Green, the online editor at Washington Examiner, tweets, "A primer on the ugly history of how the minimum wage was beloved by misogynists, eugenicists, and racists."

Hilary Levey Friedman at The New Republic on after-school programs. "Every year, many thousands of American parents sign their children up for sports teams, swimming lessons, and music classes without knowing much about the adults whom they pay to teach their children," Friedman explains. But "most children’s after-school activities, a multi-million dollar industry, are run by unregulated entrepreneurs. Kids are routinely taught by those who are not experts in a given area, have no teaching experience or qualifications to work with children, and may not even be CPR-certified." Friedman, a Harvard sociologist, interviewed 95 parents for her book Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture, and all of them assumed the adults teaching their children were experts. University of Chicago economics professor Emily Oster tweets, "From the always-interesting : your kids after-school activities."

Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post on Obama's "immoral" drone war. "U.S. drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries may be militarily effective, but they are killing innocent civilians in a way that is obscene and immoral," Robinson plainly argues. "I’m afraid that ignoring this ugly fact makes Americans complicit in murder." While President Obama has made strides by ending torture and making a "good-faith effort to close the detention center at Guantanamo," he "has greatly expanded the use of drones, and his version of the terror war looks a lot like a campaign of assassination." Glenn Greenwald references one honor Obama's received: "Eugene Robinson condemns as 'obscene' what he calls 'Obama's immoral drone war'  ."

George Packer at The New Yorker on low Black Friday sales. "Too many Americans now work low-paying jobs — for example, stocking inventory and ringing up merchandise in big-box stores like Walmart and Target — to have enough purchasing power to boost sales. Americans are too poor to stimulate economic growth," Packer explains. "One obvious solution is to pay them more." Bloomberg's financial newsletters editor Jen Rossa tweets, "Are retailers' low wages to blame for poor Black Friday showing?"

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