Five Best Monday Columns

Francisco Goldman on the Mexican government’s fooling of the country’s soccer fans, E.J. Dionne, Jr. on the negativity of the GOP, Michelle Chen on why Starbucks’ barista-students should be wary, Jonathan Chait on the real reason Republicans hate Obamacare, John E. Sununu on why taxi regulations, not Uber, are the problem.

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Francisco Goldman at The New York Times on the Mexican government’s fooling of the country’s soccer fans. “To debate and pass laws that could open Pemex, the nationalized oil company, to foreign investment, the Mexican Congress scheduled legislative sessions from June 10 to 23, dates precisely coinciding with you know what. For weeks, critics of President Enrique Peña Nieto and his political party, the PRI, have been denouncing this ploy to hide the historic reforms behind World Cup fever, it being taken for granted that almost no one will be paying attention to whatever happens in Congress,” Goldman writes. “The truth is that Mr. Peña Nieto is a politically insignificant figure, ruling at the service of established powers within the PRI and elsewhere. In fact, he seems so absent and unforceful a leader that in recent days some have speculated that he is gravely ill.” The Financial Times’ John Authers tweets, “Hijole. This is a startling, v well-written attack on Mexico's PRI govt (still hope Tri win).” Freelance journalist Angus West tweets, “While Mexico finds inspiration in nat'l team, some make use of the distraction.”

E.J. Dionne, Jr. at The Washington Post on the unwavering negativity of the Republican Party. “Since the party can’t agree to anything that would pass muster with President Obama and the Democratic Senate, it will bet that Obama’s low poll ratings will be enough for Republicans to make gains in House races and, potentially, give them control of the Senate. All of this is why 2014 will be the year of living negatively. The prospect of months of attacks and more attacks reflects the depth of disillusionment with Washington. This is the best thing Republicans have going for them, but it might also provide Democrats with their clearest path to holding the Senate," Dionne, Jr. writes. Consider the findings of last week’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. The number that got the most attention was the president’s depressed 41 percent approval rating. But the survey also found that only 29 percent of those surveyed had a positive view of the Republican Party while 38 percent had a positive view of the Democrats. So the next stop in the battle for the Republican soul could see either a victory that emboldens the tea party — or a defeat that will be blamed on Democrats and infuriate the movement.”

Michelle Chen at the Guardian on why Starbucks’ barista-students should be wary. “The genius of the Starbucks brand is that it makes the mass produced seem totally personal. Starbucks' newest innovation is a blend of private capital, public higher education and neoliberal technocracy: the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, which the company and its CEO have been advertising all week as a clever recipe for making college ‘free’ for its upward-striving baristas. The plan offers employees a partial discount on tuition and at the same time, polishes the Starbucks brand as a player in the online college industry,” Chen writes. “The bottom line is that the College Achievement Plan is like a rebate coupon: it might offer a boost for workers who buy a particular product (in this case, a relatively expensive, amply hyped online degree) but the Starbucks scheme will do little address the structural inequities that price so many out of higher education.”

Jonathan Chait at New York on the real reason Republicans hate Obamacare. “Conservatives spent years predicting Obamacare would collapse in all manner of gloomy scenarios. But those predictions all occurred in the run-up to the law coming on-line, on the basis of sketchy, preliminary data or pure conjecture. But in the months since the law has come into effect, a steady stream of far more solid data has come in, and the doomsaying predictions are being hunted to extinction. The right’s ideological objections to Obamacare remain, but I can’t think of a single practical analytic claim they made that still looks correct,” Chait writes. “And so conservative objections to Obamacare are finally turning from the practical to the philosophical. It is true that Obamacare is far more helpful to people lower down the income scale. But at least conservatives are now representing their true bedrock position on Obamacare. It is largely a transfer program benefitting people who either don’t have enough money, or pose too high a health risk, to bear the cost of their own medical care. Conservatives don’t like transfer programs because they require helping the less fortunate with other peoples’ money.”

John E. Sununu at The Boston Globe on why taxi regulations, not Uber, are the problem. “Uber had plenty of enemies. The Web-based taxi service opened for business just five years ago, but recently its reputation has instilled enough fear in competitors to tie up traffic not just in Boston but in London, Paris, and a dozen other European cities. The protests staged were intended as a defiant stand by cabbies against the ‘unregulated’ car service. Instead, they were an advertisement of a different sort: for outdated business models, archaic regulatory structures, and entrenched business interests that are desperately fighting to protect the status quo,” Sununu writes. “This is not an isolated case; it’s more like the tip of the iceberg. Today, America’s mail delivery system operates on essentially the same footprint used in the 1950s. Our broadcast TV and radio rules were written in the ’30s and ’40s. There’s even a movement afoot to apply 80-year-old telephone regulations to the Internet. We may find comfort in the familiarity of these industries today, but the cost of stifling innovation with outdated regulation is measured in billions.” The Huffington Post's Alexander C. Kaufman tweets, "Powerful case for why Uber isn't the problem -- it's taxi regulations."

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