News & Politics
The Nation

The Nation December 30, 2019

The Nation is America's oldest weekly magazine and is independently published. The Nation speaks to an engaged audience as a champion of civil liberties, human rights, and economic justice. The Nation breaks down critical issues with lively editorials, in-depth investigative reporting and analysis, as well as award-winning arts coverage. Publisher and Editor: Katrina vanden Heuvel.

United States
The Nation, LP
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36 Issues

in this issue

3 min.

@thenation.com Debating Biden I agree with the assessments in the editorial “Against Biden” [November 25] that Joe Biden is weak and distracting as a candidate and that we should be grateful to have a wider lane of progressive candidates than we’ve had in the past. So it’s disturbing that, according to polls and interviews, many people with sympathies for the progressive candidates are inclined toward Biden or one of the other centrists because they think those are safer bets for defeating Donald Trump. But that evaluation may well prove wrong. A poll is needed that asks people which candidate they favor without regard to any estimate of electability. If more people prefer the progressives than emerges in the current polling, then broadcasting that finding might persuade voters to vote for their true choice. SUSAN…

3 min.
trump’s hunger games

Donald Trump’s plutocratic administration has been promising to “reform” the food stamp program for months. In early December it announced that the first of these changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will kick in next spring, when nearly 700,000 people will lose their SNAP benefits. If the administration goes ahead with other proposed changes—such as removing from the rolls those with household savings or assets—millions more will have their benefits slashed or withdrawn entirely. And nearly 1 million children will lose automatic access to free or low-cost school lunches. This attack on the social safety net is nothing new. Bill Clinton introduced strict work requirements when he signed the welfare “reform” bill of 1996: Although mainly remembered for creating the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, the legislation also sets…

1 min.
by the numbers

$338K Cost per year to house an inmate in New York City’s jails 161% Increase in the annual cost to jail a person in New York City over the past decade 42% Increase in use-of-force incidents and allegations in New York City’s jails this fiscal year 1.44M Total state and federal prison population in the United States in 2017 162K Number of prisoners in the US serving life sentences in 2016; in 1984 that number was 34,000 6x Estimated incarceration rate in the US for black men born in 2001 compared with white men born the same year 0 Number of countries that incarcerate people at a higher rate than the US does…

5 min.
offshoring asylum

Just before Thanksgiving, the Trump administration began carrying out one of its strangest and most callous policies to date: sending would-be asylees who show up at the US-Mexico border to Guatemala under what it calls a “safe third country” agreement. The United States forged this deportation pact with Guatemala largely in secret and is working to implement similar agreements with the governments of such balmy destinations as Honduras and El Salvador and, if the US gets its way, Mexico and Panama. The idea behind the policy is that asylum seekers ought to seek refuge in the first country they pass through on the way to their final destination. It’s comparable to the European Union’s Dublin regulation, which requires migrants’ asylum claims to be processed in the nation of their first port…

1 min.
on the art of finishing a novel

At the heart of the new Kurt Vonnegut book, Pity the Reader: On Writing with Style, is this letter from Vonnegut to the Chilean novelist José Donoso. The two men were in the midst of writing the great novel of their careers. But Donoso had informed Vonnegut that he was abandoning his book, despairing that he could ever finish it. Vonnegut replied to his friend and colleague with extraordinary generosity, urging him to cast off his despair and soldier on in the name of honoring the writer he was when he began it 10 years earlier. It is possible that this letter made a difference to them both: Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five would be published two years later, Donoso’s The Obscene Bird of Night a year after that—each changing the course of…

1 min.
a fair fare

Kansas City, Missouri, is set to become the first major US city to offer free public transit for all. In a unanimous vote in early December, the City Council passed a resolution that, if implemented, will eliminate the $1.50 fare on all public buses. While a number of US cities have considered similar ideas as a way to increase ridership, reduce congestion, and improve air quality, so far only Kansas City has been willing to give up funding transit through its passengers. Instead, cities across the country are doing the opposite. In San Francisco, after the San Francisco Chronicle reported in March that tickets for fare evasion rarely get paid, teams of police officers and fare inspectors filled train stations for weeks. (The Chronicle described the move as a “blitz”; transit officials…