Five Best Tuesday Columns

Vanessa Barbara on Brazil's World Cup preparation, Renée Binder on why California needs a Gun Violence Restraining Order, Leonid Bershidsky on Ukraine and the European Parliament election, Dean Baker on why the sharing economy is a rip-off, Suzanne Gordon on why privatization won't fix the VA.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Vanessa Barbara at The New York Times on Brazil’s World Cup preparation. “By now, Brazil should probably have been grounded for life, without video games or dessert. Last month, a vice president of the International Olympic Committee, John Coates, said that Rio de Janeiro’s preparations for the 2016 Summer Olympics were the worst he had ever seen. Then, in March, FIFA’s secretary general, Jérôme Valcke, declared we could risk being ‘the worst organizers’ of the ‘worst event’,” Barbara writes. “Brazilians, long treated as obedient children on the world stage, have always submitted to the superior wisdom of foreign authorities. We try to behave ourselves for Mommy FIFA, especially in front of visitors. When she wanted beer served inside the stadiums, we amended our laws to allow it. When she asked for tax exemptions for herself and for her service providers, we consented. When she required that we ask her permission to host traditional street festivities like São João’s during the event, we complied.”

Renée Binder at The Los Angeles Times on why California needs a Gun Violence Restraining Order. “California legislators have spent much of the last two decades strengthening the state's gun laws, but last weekend's multiple killings in Isla Vista, Calif., by a young man previously identified by family to police as being a potential danger prove there is far more progress to be made. California now has the ninth-lowest rate of gun death among the 50 states, but that isn't something to celebrate in the aftermath of the Isla Vista tragedy,” Binder writes. “California can create a Gun Violence Restraining Order, a mechanism that would allow those closest to a troubled individual to act when there are warning signs or indications that that person is at risk for violence. Would a Gun Violence Restraining Order law have prevented the Isla Vista killings? It's impossible to know, but it might have helped.”

Leonid Bershidsky at Bloomberg View on Ukraine and the European Parliament election. “Despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's assertions (here and here, for example) that 'neo-Nazis' and 'anti-Semites' rule the roost in Ukraine, the extreme right did badly in Sunday's Ukrainian election. It was in the European Parliament election, which ended on the same day, that they triumphed. So if the European ideal is to create a citadel of tolerance and universal human values, who are the true Europeans? Probably not those 25 percent of French voters who carried the National Front to victory on Sunday, or the 27 percent of British voters who ensured first place to the anti-immigrant the UK Independence Party,” Bershidsky writes. “The EU is a remarkable bloc in which many of those who are in want out, but equal numbers of outsiders want in. The reasons for that are largely economic: People want better jobs and better lives, and they tend blame outsiders when they don't get them.” Bloomberg News’ Adam Majendie tweets, “Ukrainians Are More European Than the French. So, not very European then…”

Dean Baker at the Guardian on why the sharing economy is a rip-off. “The 'sharing economy' – typified by companies like Airbnb or Uber, both of which now have market capitalizations in the billions – is the latest fashion craze among business writers. But in their exuberance over the next big thing, many boosters have overlooked the reality that this new business model is largely based on evading regulations and breaking the law. The good thing about the sharing economy is that it facilitates the use of underutilized resources. But the downside of the sharing economy has gotten much less attention,” Baker writes. “Going forward, we need to ensure that the regulatory structure allows for real innovation, but doesn't make scam-facilitators into billionaires. For example, rooms rented under Airbnb should be subject to the same taxes as hotels and motels pay. Uber drivers and cars should have to meet the same standards and carry the same level of insurance as commercial taxi fleets.” Journalist Clare Wiley tweets, “Disagree with this. The sharing economy is benefitting a huge number of people who can now afford some luxury.”

Suzanne Gordon at The Boston Globe on why privatization won’t fix the VA. “First it was Social Security, then Medicare and Medicaid, and then the public healthcare option under Obamacare. Now, in the wake of recent allegations that veterans hospitals put patients on secret wait lists, Republicans are calling for the privatization of the Veterans Health Administration, the nation’s largest public healthcare system which provides cost-effective and high quality care to 6.2 million veterans. It is of course unacceptable if patients suffered as a result of any delays. But regardless of what went wrong at any VA facility, turning veterans over to private sector insurers and for-profit hospitals is not the solution,” Gordon writes. “What’s already known is that the VA system in Phoenix cares for 80,000 vets, many of them older and with serious, chronic health conditions. If some waited too long to be seen, maybe it’s time for Congress and the White House to figure out how to free up funds to care for veterans who are living longer with more complex conditions.”

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