Big Pharma is twisting facts to try and convince you that a new plan to lower drug prices would actually be bad. Don’t fall for it.

pharma protest insulin
A woman protests Big Pharma, calling for lower drug prices.

  • As reforms make their way through Congress, Big Pharma’s ad campaigns are in full swing.
  • The ads are full of misleading claims designed to frighten patients and thwart reforms that would lower drug prices.
  • Don’t listen to their propaganda. These are the reasons their claims are false.
  • David Mitchell is a cancer patient and founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs, the only national, bipartisan patient organization focused solely on policies to lower drug prices.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.

Big Pharma may not have found a cure for my cancer, but it has perfected the science of twisting facts that it doesn’t like to scare patients like me into believing that lowering drug prices will bring us great harm. This propaganda campaign is in full swing right now in the fight over reforms making their way through Congress.

The pharmaceutical industry and its operatives are bankrolling more than $23.7 million in ad campaigns opposing direct Medicare negotiation and repeal of the so-called “non-interference clause.” These ads are from PhRMA itself, Medicare Today, the Pharmaceutical Industry Labor-Management Association, the American Conservative Union, and other industry-allied groups. The ads are full of demonstrably misleading claims designed to frighten patients and thwart reforms.

It’s time to set the record straight: Lower drug prices are good for Americans.

Here’s why Pharma’s claims are false

The pharma industry says some members of Congress want to “repeal a protection in Medicare that protects access to medicines.” These ads are referencing the “non-interference clause” in Medicare Part D, which has nothing to do with determining which drugs patients can access under Medicare. The non-interference clause states that the secretary of Health and Human Services “may not interfere with the negotiations between drug manufacturers and pharmacies and prescription drug plan sponsors.” It was inserted into the Medicare Modernization Act after intense lobbying by the pharma industry and its allies to ensure drug corporations could dictate prices on brand-name drugs.

Big Pharma says Medicare negotiation proposals would enable government bureaucrats to “limit which drugs patients have access to.” But there are no congressional proposals that suggest implementing a government-imposed list to limit drug availability, or seek to change the long-standing policy under Medicare to cover drugs for all conditions, with at least two medications in each drug class. Drug price negotiation bills simply aim to achieve affordable prices for taxpayers and patients.

Pharma says negotiation would reduce access and “make it harder for people on Medicare to get the medications [they] need.” The biggest barrier to patient access is high prices. Right now, 1 in 3 adults do not take medication as prescribed due to cost. Without reform, more than 1.1 million Medicare patients could die over the next decade because they cannot afford to pay for their prescription medications. The Congressional Budget Office says lower drug prices achieved by negotiation would increase access and improve health – resulting in less money spent on medical visits and hospitalizations.

Pharma says Medicare negotiation will “stifle innovation and discovery of new medicines.” Rather, reforms like Medicare negotiation would reward clinically meaningful drugs with prices that stimulate innovation – not thwart it. As long as drug companies retain their current power to block competition and raise prices at will on old drugs to drive profits and trigger executive bonuses, they have far less incentive to take risk and invest in research and development to find innovative new drugs that could command high prices and save lives. If Medicare makes clear it wants to pay the best prices for the best drugs, negotiation will stimulate innovation as companies pursue those prices.

Pharma also says Medicare negotiation would import “European-style price controls.” Negotiation is a core tenet of a free market, not “European-style price controls.” The government negotiates for everything it buys, from aircraft carriers to copy paper. The federal government negotiates physician, hospital, lab, and durable medical equipment prices. The pharmaceutical industry is the only healthcare sector exempt from negotiation with Medicare. The proposal for negotiation would simply end special treatment for drug makers.

The pharma industry says policy proposals like HR 3 would “cost America thousands of jobs.” But the fact is, large, brand-name drug corporations could lose $1 trillion in sales over a decade and still be the most profitable industry in the nation. Given that the Congressional Budget Office found that even this sizable reduction in revenue would reduce the number of drugs coming to market by only 2-5% over a decade, drug corporations’ claims of widespread job loss are far-fetched.

Moreover, legislation that increases government spending on research and development through the National Institutes of Health can help to fuel more drug development and job opportunities in the private sector. It’s notable that Medicare negotiation is supported by the nation’s premier worker organization, the AFL-CIO.

If Big Pharma spent more time working on innovative new drugs and less time protecting its power to dictate high prices, we’d get more of what we seek: innovation we need at prices we can afford.

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Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer needs to retire now – or the country may be doomed

stephen breyer
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

  • Liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, 82, needs to retire – now.
  • Democrats control the Senate and White House, but that control is precarious.
  • Breyer should give Democrats a chance to appoint his successor and keep the Court from becoming a seven to two conservative majority.
  • Michael Gordon is a longtime Democratic strategist, a former spokesman for the Justice Department, and the principal for the strategic-communications firm Group Gordon.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.

It’s time for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to retire.

With both the White House and Senate in their control (for now), Democrats have what has become the rare moment to replace the longtime liberal justice on their own terms and stem the Court’s undemocratic move to the right.

Breyer needs to give the party that chance. Now.

The rarest of appointments

The narrow victories in Georgia by Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock paved the way for a Democratic Senate majority, and with it, the ability to freely appoint federal judges and justices.

The Biden administration and the Senate have been wasting no time using that appointment power: Biden has been nominating judges to the federal bench faster than any of his predecessors. But the most important appointment has thus far eluded him: a Supreme Court Justice.

In the era when the Supreme Court has substantial power over the direction of the country, appointing young justices who can serve for decades is essential.

Republicans have recognized that power and have made the Court a cornerstone of their minority-power plan over the past decade: their three most recent nominees were all younger than 55 at the time of appointment. Both of Obama’s appointees were in their 50’s as well. Going back even further, Clarence Thomas was 43 when he joined the Court in 1991.

With so much at stake, having a reliable vote for decades is vital.

That is why progressives are pushing for Justice Stephen Breyer, age 83, to retire. A Clinton appointee, he’s been a reliable vote for the liberals since he joined the Court. But if he doesn’t retire while Democrats own the Senate, we will likely see the arrival of another conservative justice, tipping the balance of the Court even further out of whack.

2020 redux

We’ve seen this “will they or won’t they retire” dance play out before.

In 2013, President Obama had a lunch with liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at which he indirectly encouraged her to retire, knowing that Democrats might lose the Senate in 2015, and with it the chance to appoint her successor.

We all know what happened from there. Democrats did in fact lose the Senate majority and eventually the presidency. Ginsburg remained on the court until her death in 2020, paving the way for President Trump and Senate Republicans to ram through an appointment just before the 2020 election. As a result, the balance of the court shifted even further to the right, with six of the nine justices having been appointed by Republicans.

This one change on the Court has pushed the Court in a radically conservative direction, taken the swing vote power away from Chief Justice John Roberts, and will almost certainly have a historically negative effect on abortion rights and gun safety. Given the terrifying prospects of the Court now, imagine a 7-2 Court if Breyer doesn’t act now.

The time is now

With the narrowest of Senate majorities, the next year is perhaps Biden’s only chance to replace Breyer.

Midterms have a historical tendency to go against the party of the president, which means it’s quite likely (though by no means a sure thing) that Republicans will control the chamber after the 2022 elections. We know a Republican-controlled Senate can’t be trusted to vote on a Biden appointee, so it truly is now or never for appointing a young, liberal Justice to the Supreme Court.

Breyer has served nearly 30 years with distinction and has hinted that he doesn’t want to retire in part because he doesn’t want to politicize the court. But that ship has sailed: the Court is already in a full-blown legitimacy crisis and has been deeply politicized by the GOP. If Breyer were to retire when Biden can no longer appoint his successor, the crisis would only deepen.

We have seen the terrible decisions that a 6-3 conservative court has made, including moving closer to reversing Roe vs. Wade and ending the eviction moratorium that kept so many Americans housed during the height of the pandemic.

A 7-2 conservative-dominated Supreme Court would be much worse and would only further many Americans’ belief that the Court is no longer a trusted American institution.

I expected Breyer to retire at the end of the last Supreme Court term a few months ago. That would have been the best time to do it — before a new docket of cases arose.

Now I’d bet that he’ll do it next Summer after the current term ends. But the best time would be right now, leaving the Court upon the confirmation of a successor and leaving nothing to chance, either.

The clock is ticking.

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As the homeless population booms due to sky-high rent prices, we need to think of the California homeless crisis as a refugee crisis

A man lays on a mattress in a park surrounded by tents.
A man lays on a mattress in People’s Park in Berkeley, California, on Tuesday, September 28, 2021.

  • I’ve reported from refugee camps in Mexico, and the homeless camps in San Francisco feel familiar.
  • Both refugees and unhoused people are forced to leave their homes through no fault of their own.
  • By rethinking the crisis, we can stop blaming our unhoused neighbors and better take care of them.
  • Jack Herrera is an independent reporter writing about immigration, race, and human rights. He is a contributing opinion writer for Insider.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In August, around the same time I realized I could no longer afford the rent of my home in San Francisco, I began speaking with Afghan refugees arriving in California. They had survived a perilous journey – but their struggles were not over. Many were still living in hotels as they diligently worked to find apartments for themselves and their families. In the Bay Area, however, that could prove impossible.

Median rent in San Francisco is $3,900 a month for a two-bedroom. To the south, in San Mateo, it’s more than $3,200. Oakland, where rents are cheaper than elsewhere in the Peninsula, still has a median rent cost of more than $2,600 for just two bedrooms.

For most people working anywhere in the world, those rents are simply not tenable. For Afghan refugees, who had to sell off their possessions in a rush – or simply leave them behind – the basic requirements to get one’s family in an apartment are impossible. In the Bay Area, landlords often ask for proof of income three times higher than rent; they also ask for credit checks. Security deposits, which legally can run up to two months rent, can easily put a family back more than $6,000.

Something about talking with refugees in the Bay Area crystallized a realization – putting words to an amorphous frustration I have felt. Even before we welcomed these latest Afghan newcomers to the Bay, California’s housing crisis has been a kind of refugee crisis. And it’s time we think of it that way.

Rethinking the housing crisis

I was born in San Francisco in the ’90s, about three miles from where I live now. In that time, I’ve seen the number of my unhoused neighbors increase horrifically, year after year. Right now, up to 35,000 people are living on the streets in the Bay Area.

When I was a kid going to school in San Mateo, just to the south of San Francisco, it didn’t feel like Silicon Valley quite yet. But steadily, tech’s tentacles spread throughout every city and suburb. GoPro opened offices on the hill by the community college; a historic hotel was turned into a gauche and self-satisfied start-up incubator. The costs of living skyrocketed. And every year, people leave.

Young people decamp to Denver, Austin, and Portland; families flee to “the other valley” – the dry, hot grasslands of the San Joaquin, in towns like Manteca or Fresno. As the years have gone on, community support systems have broken down as neighbors and relatives escape to cheaper cities. Now, there is little infrastructure left to support those who are still here.

When I get out on the 16th Street BART in San Francisco’s Mission District, I see tents and tarps on the sidewalks. In Oakland, entire encampments spring up, get brutally “sweeped” by the city, and spring up again in an unending cycle. City governments and the state have invested billions in the issue, but when I talk to my unhoused friends and neighbors, they say the shelters aren’t safe: Robbery and assault are common.

It sometimes shocks me how similar the homelessness “camps” around the Bay Area resemble the refugee camps I’ve spent time in as a reporter in Northern Mexico. In both, rows of tents, many of them housing families, bear the tender marks of home – a teddy bear, a battered copy of the Bible. These marks are juxtaposed against the precarious tarps, mended with duct tape, pitched on concrete.

In both places, local residents regard the inhabitants of the tents with a mix of pity and distrust; I’ve spoken to Central American asylum-seekers in Mexico who bear scars from robbery and assault by locals. In San Francisco, besides robbery and attacks, unhoused people have to deal with constant police harassment, as their housed neighbors use 911 like a concierge service to come “sweep” their stoops of any evidence of our city’s economic brutality.

One of my unhoused neighbors, who I share a coffee with every few days, says one of the hardest parts of being unhoused is sleeping – he’s woken up countless times every night, often forced to move somewhere else to sleep.

Being homeless is like being a refugee

Asylum-seekers in Mexico and so many of my unhoused neighbors in the Bay share something else in common: They’re fleeing something. Domestic abuse is one of the leading causes of homelessness. But beyond physically dangerous homes, the forcefulness of displacement in a place like the Bay Area and, say, Honduras, have some similarities. In towns like San Pedro Sula in Honduras, gangs have taken control of entire neighborhoods, and these pandillas charge townspeople an impuesto, or a tax – extortion money (typically 80% of income) in exchange for safety. The cost of living becomes untenable; people are forced out of their homes, and, without any guarantees of safety in their hometowns, they often flee northward.

In the Bay Area, rents have risen precipitously almost every year (the pandemic caused a sharp dip, but rents have steadily increased in the last few months). In 2019, 13% of all people living on the streets in San Francisco had become homeless because of an eviction; 26% were forced out of their homes after losing their jobs.

Speculative real estate has seen national and international moguls buy up huge swaths of housing stock, leaving a shocking number of houses and apartments empty as they wait for their value to appreciate – in San Francisco, there are as many as five empty houses per unhoused resident. Silicon Valley has also disrupted the traditional labor market, for the worse. Increasing numbers of workers, especially janitors and maintenance staff, are no longer salaried employees with benefits and a chance to move up in the company; instead, they’re hired as contractors. The result is that greed and brutal economics are valuing profit over basic facets of human well-being, like a roof over one’s head. The manic, speculative real estate market has led landlords to charge rents that cannot be survived.

While it can get complicated in the law, refugeeism is simple from a moral perspective: People who have been forced to leave their homes through no fault of their own deserve hospitality, and we have an obligation to house and welcome them.

Where do we go from here?

The homelessness crisis is a social creation, a danger so much larger than any one individual or their choices. The response, then, must take place at the societal level.

For both Afghan refugees trying to make a new life for themselves and unhoused people across California, the answer is simple: Massive public investment. The US government had a direct role in the crisis that forced Afghans to flee, so it should be responsible for their rent and any other costs of relocation, now that Afghans are in the country.

Likewise, the thousands of people forced out of their homes in the Bay Area have been forced out by the failures of our society at large, rather than any personal failings. The costs here will be massive: A recent report estimated that it would take $11.8 billion investment to end homelessness in the Bay Area alone. To put that in perspective, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the largest ever effort to address homelessness last year, with $1.4 billion designated in the state’s budget.

However, the costs of homelessness already exist: They’re simply being felt by the economic refugees from Hunger Games-esque inequality we’ve allowed to fester in the Bay. To fix this problem, we will all need to pay our part.

In California, this will require levying taxes on the corporations and real estate interests that have created such a horrific housing market in the first place.

And on a personal level, my neighbors in this city need to abandon a mindset that blames an unhoused person for their own homelessness. They are refugees from a society and an economic system we created, and our responsibility to help them comes not just from a place of charity, but from moral obligation. We are all part of this society; they are owed our help.

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Afghans are still trying to escape their country and find new homes, but as the world’s attention turns elsewhere, the money is drying up

A crowd of Afghan people with masks on hold a sign that reads: "We want resettlement. Our families are in danger please act now. Resettle refugees and save lives. SOS"
Afghan refugees hold protests outside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Jakarta, Indonesia on October 4, 2021. They called for resettlement to another country.

  • Despite a lack of media coverage, NGOs are working day and night to get Afghans out of their country.
  • But resources are drying up, and countries are offering little help to get Afghans to new countries.
  • We can’t turn away from this ongoing crisis. These refugees need our help.
  • Lauren Crosby Medlicott is a freelance journalist in Wales.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

It hasn’t even been two months since the Taliban took over Kabul in Afghanistan. Following the government’s collapse, every news story seemed to cover the humanitarian crisis – you couldn’t escape the photographs, the videos, and the voices of people desperate to escape the impending rule of the Taliban. Governments and international humanitarian organizations felt compelled to act – chartering planes, organizing land evacuations, collecting donations, and promising resettlement.

But in a matter of days, countries stopped evacuating people from airports in Afghanistan. In a matter of weeks, the media stopped putting coverage of the ongoing struggles faced by Afghans unable to leave the country on the front page.

Yet, the work to evacuate and resettle Afghans has not stopped. NGOs, charities, foundations, and private organizations are still working day and night to get people out of Afghanistan – people who were left behind by the very countries who jumped in to promote freedom, education, art, and equality. They are now left exposed following a messy, irresponsible withdrawal of foreign troops.

I’ve been talking to the people still working to get vulnerable people – journalists, academics, women, artists, etc – out of Afghanistan. Their challenges, frustrations, and needs are all eerily similar, echoing a need for more resources.

‘I hear you, I’m sorry. I’ll do what I can.’

“I’ve been up since 6 a.m. on my first phone call,” Sophia Mahfooz, founder of Afghan Innovation Foundation, which was set up to help get endangered women and minority groups out of Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover, told me in a recent interview. “And it’s now nearly midnight. It’s just been non-stop.”

Mahfooz, along with others who are part of small NGOs, foundations, grassroots communities, and private organizations are giving all their spare time and energy contacting at-risk people in Afghanistan and third countries, campaigning for action from large humanitarian organizations, making deals with governments to resettle refugees, planning charter flights, and raising funds. They are worn out and feel like they have been left with all the responsibility, but no power.

“I’m just trying not to have a nervous breakdown,” Sanam Naragi-Anderlini, CEO of the International Civil Society Action Network and director of the Centre for Women, Peace, and Security at the London School of Economics said to me. “My whole team is just on the edge of losing it because we’re getting hundreds of notices from people all the time who want to get out of Afghanistan. I know we can’t help everyone, but I promised myself to respond – to say ‘I hear you, I’m sorry. I’ll do what I can’.”

“I’m really, really angry,” Neelam Raina, challenge leader for security, protracted conflict, refugees and displacement for the Global Challenges Research Fund, told me.

As media attention turns to other affairs, the sense of urgency to act is lost, and with it goes funding and accountability for larger organizations and governments who had promised to help.

The media isn’t totally at fault. They are required to cover the latest breaking stories, happening at every moment all around the world. Yet, when newspapers turn their attention to the next crisis, the general public tends to forget about what they can’t see. The public doesn’t give as much money or pressure the people in charge to take action, because it’s no longer on every front page.

To many, Afghanistan is no longer a priority. But the people I spoke to have kept contacting, evacuating, fundraising, advocating, resettling, and emotionally supporting those that have been forgotten. For them, the story is far from over.

Where are these visas?

“The biggest barrier right now is that countries are not issuing visas such that people can travel,” Brad Blitz, head of the Department of International Politics and Policy at University College London, said to me. He’s working with a team to get 252 academics and their families out of Afghanistan.

Right now, if an Afghan wants to leave Afghanistan, they cannot simply drive over the border into Pakistan or jump on a plane. They need a visa for travel, otherwise, Pakistan – or any other country – will not accept them.

The UK has promised to resettle 20,000 refugees over the next few years. Canada has said it will resettle 20,000, and Australia said it would take 3,000. The US authorized $500 million for “unexpected urgent refugee and migration needs of refugees.” Other countries haven’t made promises, but have stated they would support the resettlement of Afghan refugees.

However, these promises are null and void without a plan for how to get people out of Afghanistan, into third, transitory countries, and across the borders to their final destination.

“We say to governments that we know who needs to get out and they tell us they have to be processed,” Naraghi-Anderlini said to me. “But where is the process?”

To obtain a visa to get into these countries, refugees are being told they must get out of Afghanistan to a transitory country, and then apply for a visa. But they can’t even get into that transitory country without a visa for onward travel.

The solution to this problem would be for countries who have promised to resettle Afghan refugees to take the lists of people who need to get out and issue online visas for them to travel to that country. But, they refuse to do it.

As demand rises, prices skyrocket

Sophia Mahfooz was able to get people across the Pakistani border for less than $1,000 five weeks ago. She said that now, the price ranges from between $3,000 and $7,000.

The more scarce and in demand something is, prices can and will soar. Chartered flights by governments and large humanitarian organizations have stopped, leaving the cost of buses, taxis, and planes to be paid for by the “little guys,” who only have small pots of funding.

Several countries have said to these small organizations that if they can pay to get the refugees into their countries and fund their resettlement, the refugees can come. But without media attention, private donations are slowing down, and the money is drying up.

Evacuations are only the beginning

Once Afghan refugees manage to arrive at their final destinations – tired, traumatized, and confused – resettlement begins.

I spoke with Naheed Samadi Bahram, US director of Women for Afghan Women, about the efforts her small team is making to welcome Afghan refugees into New York. They set up a culturally appropriate holding space (with halal food, coffee, and tea), sourced volunteers who could translate, raised money for clothing, undergarments, shoes, and socks for almost 750 individuals, and are in the process of hiring an immigration attorney and mental health counselor.

“We’re exhausted,” she told me. She didn’t blame anyone for the chaos to resettle Afghan refugees, saying everyone is doing the best they can.

But in spite of everyone doing the best they can, there are questions that need to be asked and support that needs to be given from governments – not just small organizations with limited capacity and resources. More funding is needed to give small organizations the flexibility to provide essentials, counselling, language lessons, and career support. Likewise, long-term housing plans need to be discussed and decided upon.

The Afghan evacuations and resettlement plans are only the beginning. We must not turn our attention away.

Small teams of committed people are moving mountains to get people out of Afghanistan, but they can’t do it alone – they need our continued support.

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America’s big cities are turning into housing catastrophes. If we want to fix this mess, we should try and copy Tokyo.

A view of residential houses in Tokyo, Japan.
A view of residential houses in Tokyo, Japan.

  • In major cities around the world, housing is becoming less and less affordable.
  • Tokyo, Japan, is a notable exception, with prices barely rising since 1995.
  • The US has restrictive, often absurd regulations, and should instead mirror Tokyo.
  • Jairaj Devadiga is an economist specializing in public policy and economic history.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.

In major cities around the world, housing prices have spiraled out of control.

In California’s Bay Area, the median house price is $1.3 million. In Vancouver, the average household must save for 34 years to make a down payment on a house, and put aside 85% of its pre-tax income for mortgage payments. In Sydney, a decrepit house without any toilet facilities sells for $3.5 million.

In this sea of craziness, Tokyo has been an island of sanity. Its housing prices have barely risen since 1995. This is not due to deflation either.

While the population of Japan as a whole has been shrinking, Tokyo has been growing. Between 1995 and 2019, the population of Tokyo grew by 2.17 million, or just above 90,000 per year on average. To accommodate all these new people, lots of housing had to be built. Over the same time period, there was an average of 153,000 housing starts annually.

A study by the Fraser Institute illustrates what happens when housing supply fails to keep up with demand. Between 2015 and 2019, 120,000 new jobs were created in Vancouver and Toronto. In the same time period, there were only 57,000 housing starts every year. Since demand was growing more than twice as fast as supply, prices skyrocketed. The same story played out in almost every major city. Lots of new jobs being created, lots of people wanting to move, and not enough homes being built for all of them.

There are numerous bad policies which prevent the construction of more housing. Chief among them are restrictive zoning laws. In most cities with expensive housing, vast swathes of residential land are reserved exclusively for single family homes. Until very recently, the worst of the bunch was San Jose, with 94% of the land being off limits for apartment buildings. No wonder it is the least affordable city in America.

Not only does this make housing costlier for middle and low income folks, but also subsidizes mansions for the rich. The land on which a mansion sits would be worth a lot more if an apartment building could be built on it. The developer would make a profit even if they sold each apartment at an affordable price.

However, because that’s not allowed, developers won’t bid for that land, thus driving down its price.

While Tokyo does have low density zones, these do not prohibit multi-family buildings. Thus it is not uncommon to see a three story apartment building right next to a single family home.

Apart from zoning, cities dictate minimum lot sizes and maximum floor area ratios (how much of the plot is covered by the building itself), which further stifle construction. In much of Mumbai, for instance, the floor area ratio was capped at 1.33 until 2018.

This had the disastrous result of pushing poor people into slums, as they could not compete with affluent families for the limited housing. In 1971, 22% of Mumbai’s population lived in slums. By 2010, this had risen to 62%. By contrast, Tokyo allows floor area ratios as high as 13, and even higher with government permission.

Another problem is cities wanting to preserve too many historical sites. For instance, cities often declare old homes or commercial establishments to be historical monuments, which prevents them from being torn down and replaced with apartment buildings.

In some cases, cities prevent development even when the historical monument itself would be untouched. For instance, last year, a historic preservation board in Seattle rejected a proposal for a 200-unit apartment building because it would be taller than nearby historical monuments. While Tokyo has historic buildings, its criteria for preservation are much stricter and thus don’t get in the way of affordable housing.

Another important factor in raising housing prices is over-regulation. A recent report by the National Association of Home Builders estimates that regulations add almost $94,000 to the price of new homes. The vast majority of these regulations are purely aesthetic, such as mandating certain types of landscaping and architectural styles, or banning vinyl sidings.

This is not exclusive to American cities. A study on India’s Ahmedabad shows that unnecessary regulations add 34% to the cost of housing. By contrast, Tokyo has very few common sense regulations; mainly to protect against the frequent earthquakes. As long as developers follow these and the very liberal zoning laws, they are free to build as they please.

At this point, you might wonder why these restrictive rules persist if they are so obviously bad. Why is liberal city-planning the exception, rather than the norm? To answer this, we must examine the policy making process itself, to understand the motivations of all participants.

Consider San Jose, with its 94% single-family zoning. The politicians in San Jose were catering to the wishes of their constituents; the people already living in San Jose. Those voters wanted high prices. To them, their house is an investment, which would lose value if more housing were built in their neighborhood. It would also result in new neighbors bringing in a different culture from what the residents are used to.

People who wanted to move to San Jose, but couldn’t due to high prices, would benefit from more liberal planning. They might live in different parts of California, or even in other states. Obviously they don’t get to vote in San Jose elections, thus local politicians have no incentive to help them.

The same process plays out across every city, resulting in sky-high prices.

At the state or national level, though, the political calculus changes completely. People in a particular city might want to restrict housing development, but everyone else wants more. Thus state and national politicians have an incentive to liberalize.

This is exactly what happened in Japan. It too had local governments choking the housing market, resulting in a massive housing bubble in the 1980s. This prompted the national government to enact a series of reforms to rein in housing prices.

The national government formulates building codes, zoning laws, and other city-planning regulations for the entire country, giving very little leeway to local governments.

Recently, governor Gavin Newsom did something similar in California, by finally abolishing single-family zoning statewide, and also loosening some other restrictions.

To win elections, local politicians must necessarily keep down the supply of new housing. It is up to state and national governments to deny them that power, and quickly. Otherwise, home-ownership will remain a pipe-dream for most people.

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How do we solve climate change? Abolish fossil fuels

giant green head blowing out smoke stacks against a red sky
Fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal contribute tremendously to the climate crisis.

  • Our climate change goals are way too small for the severity of the crisis.
  • Calling for the complete end of fossil fuel extraction is the only way forward.
  • Other movements have proven that bold calls for abolition can radically change politics.
  • P.E. Moskowitz is an author, runs Mental Hellth, a newsletter about capitalism and psychology, and is a contributing opinion writer for Insider.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As Joe Biden campaigned for president in 2020, he outlined an environmental agenda that included achieving 100% clean energy in the US by 2050. The goal was ambitious, but details were scant on how to get it done. How, for example, would Biden meet the target while simultaneously promising to not ban fracking, an extractive process that contributes tremendously to the climate crisis?

More recently, Biden pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030. But again, details on how to actually achieve this goal were sparse. Hobbling the administration’s chances even further is the fact that Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a pro-oil politician who directly profits from the industry, will craft a large part of the party’s climate change policy.

And while the president tours global-warming ravaged communities, his administration has nonetheless opened up 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil leasing, leading to lawsuits from environmental groups.

Even the ambitious climate goals laid out by politicians in campaign promises fall far short of what’s needed to stop the climate crisis.

Though Biden and the Democrats can be blamed for their conflicting and inconsistent priorities, the base of the issue lies not with politicians, but with those of us who care about combating global warming. If Biden represents the most ambitious mainstream climate plan to date, that means we have not been ambitious enough in what we demand of our politics. We can no longer ask for abstract goals, or rely on the slow machine of electoralism. We must demand radical action – the complete abolition of the oil and gas industry.

We need a big, concrete goal

We already know that the time for action on climate is past-due. Even if we stopped all oil and gas production today, it’d be too late to arrest many of the effects of climate change. The desire to do something about climate change is there – public concern about climate change has grown steadily over the last few years, and the majority of people in most developed countries say they’d be willing to take action to prevent climate change.

Yet the demands we make of our politicians are milquetoast. Climate was not a central feature of the 2020 presidential debates, and the broadcast media barely covers climate at all, meaning our politicians are rarely pressured to take the drastic measures necessary to tackle the crisis.

And that’s because Americans don’t have a concrete goal for how to tackle climate change – we get lost in the morass of individual action (reduce, reuse, recycle), or in the technocratic, long-term goals of politicians. Only when the mainstream public has a real target to strive for will we be able to make actual progress on climate change. We need to call for the complete abolition of extractive industries.

There is no moderate solution to a global crisis. Fossil fuel combustion accounts for the vast majority of US carbon dioxide emissions. Eliminating these emissions by replacing our power grid with 100% clean energy is feasible and would work to get us to net zero, but right now it’s not politically palatable, largely because politicians are bankrolled by the corporations threatened by green energy. We often talk about global warming as if it’s an abstract concept that’s too complex to solve, when in reality its cause is relatively simple: Oil and gas companies are largely to blame, and stopping them will largely stop the problem.

But as long as there’s a profit incentive to keep extracting oil and gas, there will be no reason for oil and gas companies to stop. So we must eliminate the ability of oil and gas companies to profit from extraction, whether through laws that make the process illegal, or through massive protests that make the daily functions of oil and gas companies untenable.

This might seem like a lofty goal considering the bleak political moment we live in, but by drawing this line in the sand, we can then effectively evaluate whether politicians are moving toward that goal or not, and can develop a clearer sense of what actions need to be taken to meet that goal.

As Naomi Klein writes in “This Changes Everything,” politicians almost never declare an issue a crisis worth taking drastic action on until people force them to.

“Slavery wasn’t a crisis for British and American elites until abolitionism turned it into one,” Klein writes. “Racial discrimination wasn’t a crisis until the civil rights movement turned it into one … if enough of us stop looking away and decide that climate change is a crisis worthy of Marshall Plan levels of response, then it will become one, and the political class will have to respond.”

Shifting the Overton window

Having a concrete goal (stopping the worst effects of climate change) with a concrete target (stopping oil and gas extraction) is the only way to move a pro-environment agenda forward.

As of now, there is no mainstream coherent objective when it comes to climate beyond “do something about it.” Contrast that with other successful political movements: Occupy Wall Street fought not for incremental change, but against the actions of specific banks and for the end of economic inequality. During the uprisings over police killings of people of color in the past year, activists fought not for an abstract idea of reform, but the complete abolition (or at least defunding) of the police. Socialist activists who supported Bernie Sanders in 2020 fought not to “do something” about healthcare, but for an actual policy proposal – Medicare for All.

Though all of these movements met setbacks and were repressed by the state, they undoubtedly shifted the Overton window of our politics so that once seemingly impossible ideas are now part of everyday political dialogue. Dramatic restructuring of police departments, vast economic change and free healthcare – ideas that just a few decades ago were barely even part of mainstream discourse – are now discussed as realistic goals. This push creates a positive cycle of change: The discourse shifts, lofty goals then seem feasible, and that allows people to push for more change – more people show up at pipeline protests, more people support movements against police brutality, more people pressure politicians into action – which then further shifts the discourse.

We can now see the same thing happening with the climate crisis: Even major publications are platforming what once seemed like radical solutions to stopping oil and gas production and consumption.

There are already many groups who have gotten the memo to push for massive, systemic change on climate. Students have forced over 100 colleges and universities to divest from fossil fuel corporations. Indigenous rights movements blocked 1.6 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from being released through protest campaigns, pipeline blockades and other actions, equivalent to 25% of the emissions of the US and Canada each year.

But these movements, as powerful as they are, still remain on the fringe of the fight against climate change. As Klein points out, mainstream environmental organizations push for incremental change, while people thirst for something more radical.

We cannot end climate change without ending the extraction of fossil fuels. But if we keep considering that an unrealistic proposition, we’re doomed to use up massive amounts of people’s energy to push for small reforms, a cycle that creates cynicism and defeatism.

It’s a tall order to abolish all fossil fuel extraction, but the first step is simply naming it as a goal.

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As a DACA-protected immigrant, I know just how dire the need is for a pathway to citizenship. Congress has no excuse for not taking action.

A migrant farm laborer in a face mask is in line for food in a living space filled with black couches.
Migrant farm laborers with Fresh Harvest working with an H-2A visa line up for a meal in the company living quarters on April 28, 2020 in King City, California.

  • Workers on temporary work visas are subject to abuse and wage theft at the hands of their employers.
  • As a DACA recipient, I’m all too familiar with living under the threat of anti-immigrant litigation.
  • The Senate must pass a package to make permanent immigration status for all a reality.
  • Mari Perales Sánchez is senior policy manager and Elizabeth Memorial Advocate for Migrant Worker Women at Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

I immigrated to the US to reunite with my family when I was 8, so I have lived most of my life as an undocumented woman. Growing up here in America, I watched my relatives and other immigrant community members work under hazardous conditions with few protections. Their drive and sacrifices have always played a motivating role in my passion for social justice.

Undocumented immigrants like myself were unnerved but not defeated by the Senate parliamentarian’s ruling against including a pathway to citizenship in the new budget reconciliation bill. Right now, the world is watching as lawmakers such as Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey prepare alternative pathways and continue to fight for a pathway to citizenship and permanent legal status for millions of immigrants. If an immigration package passes, this legislation will fundamentally improve the livelihoods of millions of members of my community.

As an advocate and directly impacted person who understands the many barriers removed by being able to access a permanent immigration status, I must demand that this bill covers as many members of my community as possible – including the thousands of essential migrant workers who come to the US on temporary visas.

Without additional protections, many essential migrant workers are being exploited by employers

In 2017, I joined my alma mater in suing the Trump administration for rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. While the Supreme Court sided with us and reinstated the program for thousands of immigrants, temporary status is far from enough. The same is true for the migrant workers on H-2 visas who work as farmworkers, landscapers, seafood processors, and in construction. In my role managing the policy area and gender equity projects at Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, a binational migrant workers organization, I see how H-2 workers are exposed to severe and abusive conditions every day: from extortion, coercion, and wage theft to sexual harassment and discrimination.

For this group of essential workers, a pathway to citizenship would provide an urgently needed arm of defense in the many structurally flawed labor migration programs where a worker’s immigration status and employment are tied to a single employer, creating a deep power-imbalance between employer and worker.

During the pandemic, health and safety violations skyrocketed in seafood processing plants across the country where migrant workers worked, while the few existing legal protections ceased to be enforced. When migrant workers speak out, their employers retaliate and workers risk being fired and deported to their country of origin. I saw this happen to two Louisiana H-2B crawfish workers from Mexico, Maribel and Reyna, whose employer fired them after they sought medical treatment for COVID-19. They returned to Mexico as a result.

Congress must pass an inclusive immigration package

But a pathway to permanent immigration status for essential H-2 migrant workers means more than improved labor standards. Most migrant workers are practically barred from migrating with their families and children – regardless of how many years they have been coming to the US – causing unconscionable, seasons-long separations between families each year.

Last spring I had an emotional conversation with a Mexican woman who is an H-2B crab picker in Maryland and the bread-winner in her family. She was terrified she would never see her children again if she caught COVID-19, or that she would infect her family if she traveled back. A dignified immigration solution, like the one we advocate for, would enable migrant workers like her to migrate with their loved ones and as part of families – preventing their separation.

Adversaries may side with the parliamentarian, but they are overlooking the fact that immigrant and migrant communities will not give up. Last summer, after months of mobilization, we watched a conservative Supreme Court deliver a positive DACA decision when many presumed the worst. Now, a year later, due to extensive organizing, Senate leadership is exhausting as many avenues as possible, including returning to the parliamentarian with alternative immigration proposals.

As a DACA recipient, I’m all too familiar with the alternative: living in the limbo of temporary status at best, or under the threat of anti-immigrant litigation and at the mercy of the courts at worst. We cannot tolerate this option for H-2 workers and other essential workers like those in my family. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer must include them in the immigration bills.

We have done our part: Immigrants’ rights activists, leaders, and allies have ensured that an inclusive pathway to citizenship is on the table. Now it’s time for our policymakers to stop at nothing to deliver on their promises, including a permanent immigration status for all.

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I’m a former Citi executive. The bank failed to react to the warning signs before the 2008 financial crisis, and its record on climate change shows it’s making the same mistake again.

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a Citibank logo displayed outside the Citibank Plaza in Hong Kong July 28, 2014. Picture taken July 28, 2014.  REUTERS/Bobby Yip
FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a Citibank logo displayed outside the Citibank Plaza in Hong Kong

  • Citigroup was massively bailed out by US taxpayers because it failed to manage key financial risks.
  • The bank is exposed to huge risks of fossil fuel stranded assets.
  • Citi’s new CEO Jane Fraser must show global leadership and seize the energy transition.
  • Tim Buckley is Director Energy Finance Studies, Australasia at IEEFA.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In September 2007, with a mortgage crisis clearly on the horizon, Citigroup’s CEO Charles Prince III gathered with his top executives to understand whether the bank – then the nation’s largest – faced any risk. The consensus was no.

How wrong they were. In a year’s time, Lehman Brothers crashed, triggering a global financial collapse. Citigroup lost 90% of its value and 75,000 employees, and ultimately, needed US taxpayers to bail it out.

Since that low point, the bank has worked hard to rehabilitate its image, but not its ability to understand and address key global financial risks.

This month, Citi was named as Joint Lead Managers for Suek, Russia’s largest coal miner, and owner of 17 gigawatts (GW) of coal power plants. The proceeds of this bond issue will help finance 1.6 GW of more coal power and another 28 million tonnes of new coal export port capacity per year.

This deal is in direct contradiction to the Paris Agreement and the findings of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) recent Net Zero by 2050 roadmap, which couldn’t be clearer, that to avoid impending climate catastrophe, there must be “no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects, and no further final investment decisions for new unabated coal plants.”

It also contradicts the spirit of Citi’s Commitment to Net Zero by 2050, which CEO Jane Fraser announced on her first day on the job. Following that pledge, Citi joined the Sustainable Markets Initiative Financial Services Task Force, the Mark Carney-chaired Net-Zero Finance Alliance, delivered a strengthened but still flawed coal exit policy and a $1 trillion capital deployment in low-carbon solutions pledge.

What good are pledges and promises of distant future action when there is a climate emergency today?

Banking on climate change

Citi remains a key global climate laggard, rated by the Rainforest Action Network as the second largest financier of fossil fuels globally in the five years leading to 2020 (second only to JPMorgan Chase). The bank has financed a staggering $237 billion in total, many multiples of the nearest Chinese mega-banks.

As a former Citi Managing Director, I want to see the bank succeed. But a pivotal change is overdue after two decades of ongoing market underperformance. Since my days at Citi, I’ve worked primarily in the energy technology space, tracking the role of global finance and evaluating stranded asset risks and climate investment opportunities. At IEEFA we have tracked 180 globally significant financial institutions with formal coal exit policies. To date in 2021 we have seen 68 new or improved coal policies – a 33% increase on the run rate in 2020, which in turn was 60% more than reported in 2019.

And with the rising number of zero emission 1.5 degree Celsius pledges, we are seeing an accelerating global flight from the monumental risk of “stranded assets” in fossil fuel investments including coal, oil and gas, arctic drilling and oil sands. As Wood Mackenzie reported in August 2021, “The pool of investors that will agnostically invest in the oil and gas sector, indifferent to the energy transition, will continue to shrink.”

When it comes to climate, US banks lag behind European and Asian banks. But with the decisive climate leadership of President Joe Biden, and the increasingly clear climate risk guidance coming from the US Department of the Treasury and Network for Greening of the Financial System, this is Fraser’s moment to break away from the pack and lead the way.

Fraser must eschew the hubris of Citi’s former leaders and demonstrate clarity of vision to see obvious global financial risks for what they are. A start would be making a more detailed commitment going into COP26 next month, one that rejects activities like funding giant Russian coal companies and similar projects the world will soon be forced to abandon.

Citi should also commit to a clear end date beyond which the bank will not provide any financial assistance across its advisory, debt, equity and capital market services, to any company still building out greenfield oil, gas, and coal operations (including associated facilitation of rail and port infrastructure).

These kinds of massive turnarounds in policy are possible. BlackRock, the world’s largest financial institution, has moved at lightning speed from also being a global climate laggard in 2019. In 2021, CEO Larry Fink enthusiastically beat the drum about the magnitude of investment opportunities the changing climate entails. The firm set records on new zero emissions infrastructure, private equity in emerging climate technologies, and ESG capital raises. These records were subsequently broken as Brookfield and TPG followed suit, playing catch up to innovative global financial leaders like Macquarie Group.

Citi should carefully evaluate the substance of BlackRock’s pivot. The megabank can align its investments with the IEA’s net-zero guidance, enhancing its risk-return profile in doing so.

To stymie rapid global emissions growth, the world needs financial leadership to move away from fossil fuel legacy businesses of old and to start providing the multitude of technology solutions commercially viable today.

Fraser should focus on the enormous opportunities in providing financial services to the zero emissions world leaders of tomorrow, and turn the bank’s sorry past into global leadership.

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Suicides in the workplace are on the rise for retail and service workers. Bosses need to let workers be human instead of treating them as disposable.

A woman in a face mask and red T-shirt scans groceries at a check-out counter.
A grocery store cashier scans a customer’s groceries. Service and retail workers have seen steadily declining mental health during the pandemic.

  • Suicides in the workplace have steadily increased, and service industries rank in the bottom 10% for mental health.
  • 84% of retail workers report declining mental health during the pandemic.
  • Employers need to take this crisis seriously and support the mental health of frontline workers.
  • Fiona Chan is content strategist at Rebel & Co, a research and strategy firm.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Suicides in the workplace have been steadily rising since the mid-2000s, and the pandemic has only exacerbated the need for a stronger focus on mental health. But for service and retail industry workers, the need for mental health support has never been more imperative. Unlike their salaried counterparts, many hourly workers do not receive the same support and benefits from their employers even though they are oftentimes experiencing worse working conditions.

I spent my first summer out of college working at a big-box retailer. As an introvert, I was curious to see how far I could push myself out of my comfort zone. But while working as a cashier, I was subjected to verbal abuse and, on many occasions, had my intelligence questioned for not giving in to customer demands. I also had to navigate personalities that made me feel uncomfortable as a woman.

Due to the “customer is always right” philosophy, I often felt like I couldn’t stand up for myself and instead had to bite my tongue, swallow my pride, and put on a smile. Needless to say, I lasted roughly one month before I threw in the towel over what was the most demoralizing experience I’ve ever had.

And working conditions for retail workers have only gotten worse with the pandemic. In addition to putting themselves at risk of being exposed to COVID-19 with each customer interaction, long hours, unpredictable schedules, and the stress of having to deal with unruly customers are reasons why industries including manufacturing, retail, and food and beverage score in the bottom 10% for mental health. 84% of retail workers reported that their mental health has deteriorated during the pandemic.

Pre-pandemic, retail salespeople not only died by suicide at higher rates than workers in other industries, but were also more likely to carry out the act at work. Between 2014 to 2018, front-line supervisors of retail workers were reported to have the most cases of suicides among the top 12 occupations that accounted for 36% of suicides in the US.

Yet employers aren’t offering front-line workers the same benefits as salaried office workers. Nike recently made headlines for giving its head office staff a paid week off for mental health, but it failed to offer the same for its retail workers. Mental health support is a life or death issue. Employers need to start taking the needs of their frontline workers seriously.

Retail employees need more resources and support

While employers can’t control how customers treat their employees, they can make the workplace a healthier environment for employees.

It seems like Leadership 101, but setting and communicating clear expectations can help reduce stress and improve outcomes. Employers should also look to limit unnecessary and unpredictable changes to a team member’s workload; frequent changes can be overwhelming for workers – affecting quality of work and creating a sense of failure when employees feel they are not performing at their best.

Employees often don’t feel comfortable asking for help when they need it, which is one of the biggest hurdles to providing support. Companies should look to emphasize an open-door policy that allows for clear communication between employers and employees. In retail, front-line workers are often face to face with customers. Dealing with people regularly at that level can be frustrating, exhausting, and emotionally taxing. Ensuring that team members know they are supported even amidst difficult exchanges with customers can be a game-changer.

Most importantly, employers shouldn’t allude to someone’s job being at risk if they request time off work or accommodations for mental health. Many service and retail workers are more likely to live in poverty, and many are the primary breadwinners for their households. Supporting these workers’ mental health means not putting their job at risk when they do need help.

Employers also need to leave room for workers to be human. Kids get sick, dogs die, and cars break down. Employers should get comfortable with providing schedule flexibility that allows for life to happen. Even something as simple as encouraging employees to take short walking breaks outside can have enormous benefits for improving their mental wellbeing.

Ideally, employers should be able to work with employees to ensure taking time off is feasible. If paid time off isn’t an option for businesses, allowing for small breaks during the workday when needed, providing mental health support resources, or access to quality mental health benefits, healthcare, and self-care are all beneficial.

As a nation, we are failing to provide those that are at risk with the support they need to manage their mental health. In Japan, after changing the conversation around suicide by identifying it as a public health problem rather than a personal problem to be dealt with in private, the country started funding suicide awareness and prevention campaigns in 2006; by 2012, the number of suicide deaths had fallen below 30,000 for the first time in more than a decade.

It’s time employers in the US take action and mobilize support services to the groups that need it most. Stop treating service and retail hourly workers as disposable names on a schedule and not as valued workers deserving of the same mental health benefits as salaried employees.

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Democrats’ criticisms of Biden are actually a reminder of why the GOP is such a danger to our democracy

joe biden
President Joe Biden.

  • Democrats have taken Joe Biden to task for his handling of COVID and the Afghanistan withdrawl.
  • On the other hand, Republicans refuse to call out Donald Trump’s lies and mistakes.
  • The difference underlines just how much of a threat the GOP is to America’s democracy.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The past two months have brought a dramatic change to the Biden presidency.

COVID-19 numbers have skyrocketed. The Afghanistan withdrawal was mired by the deaths of US soldiers and chaos at the Kabul airport. The recent revelation that a US drone strike in the country killed 10 civilians only added to the fallout.

For a President who came into office with decades of experience at the highest levels of government, August and September have shown that experience can’t always prepare you for the most difficult moments.

Biden’s critics, both Republican and Democrat alike, have noticed. But only one team has shown integrity in holding the President’s feet to the fire.

Criticizing your own

The right’s criticisms of Biden have been as predictable as they are ridiculous, such as the suggestion that Biden resign over Afghanistan.

But criticism from his own party has been more substantive. Democratic senators from every wing of the party criticized the administration’s handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal.

Just this week, many Democrats have been up in arms about the Biden administration’s treatment of Haitian migrants at the southern border. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer “urge[d] President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas to immediately put a stop to these expulsions” while Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called the situation “a stain on our country.”

As surprising as it may sound, this criticism is a good thing. Healthy democracy is built on politicians and pundits willing to criticize their own party’s leaders when they make a mistake. It also beats the alternative: fawning over a dear leader with no critical eye or pushback to their decisions.

That is how the Republicans live. That is how democracies die.

Fear of your own

The need for serious intra-party criticism to foster a healthy democracy is why it’s so worrying that Republicans are completely unwilling to criticize their leaders, or more specifically, their leader. Even months removed from office, Donald Trump and the political movement that he represents are beyond reproach by Republicans.

Those who do speak out, like Rep. Liz Cheney, are ousted from leadership, while others, like Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, are forced into an early retirement.

Republican cable pundits like Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity are the major drivers. Not only do they spread dangerous misinformation on a daily basis, but when it comes to mistakes and missteps by Trump and other Republicans, they are silent.

This week, it was revealed that Trump’s lawyer had given Mike Pence a six-point plan to steal the 2020 election. If Biden were to propose such an undemocratic idea today, Democrats in the media and in the Capitol would call for his impeachment. But Republicans refuse to hold their own to account, even when it means pushing a lie.

Over the past year, the GOP has proven that they don’t care about maintaining our democratic system of government. They care about power. Integrity and doing what’s right is meaningless if it won’t help them entrench their minority rule over the United States.

It helps when Fox News and other right-wing media are completely in their pocket, rather than traditional media which largely tries to hold the country’s leadership in check, regardless of who’s in charge.

This is just the latest example of how the GOP is better at politicking in our democratic system than the Democrats – and the latest example of how the GOP’s skill at exploiting that system is going to be the very thing that crushes it.

Read the original article on Business Insider