Two Perspectives on Subprime Auto Loans

A letter by Charles Fried. It would help if we called things by their true names. The car dealers who put false income data into loan applications for people living on Social Security, surreptitiously add on unexplained charges, and sometimes even forge signatures are thieves. The banks that — knowingly or with willed ignorance — buy and package these loans are receivers of stolen property. The investors who buy these packages for their high rates of return are like customers who shop for bargains from fences or the tailgates of trucks selling hijacked goods. The free market is great, but it depends on honesty. Why aren’t more of these people being prosecuted?

Local Woman Travels to Israel Amid Growing Violence, Airline Ban (video)

A Harvard student and graduate of West Springfield High School left Wednesday for a Birthright trip to Israel. This as the conflict with the Palestinians and concerns over airline safety grows. Becca Gauthier [’15] has her bags packed and heads to a train on her way to a flight to Israel. She will be flying El-Al Airlines, as a growing number of other carriers refuse to fly over the embattled air space of the Middle East.

Regret that sent email?… Get it back!

Since the dawn of the Internet, email users have been haunted by the finality of hitting the “send” button. No more. What could be the foremost of all First World problems — the inability to retrieve or delete an ill-conceived email — is now a thing of the past for users of Pluto Mail, according to the Harvard law student who created it. “I’ve been annoyed with the fact that any email I send lasts forever, and I think Snapchat popularized the more-forgettable Internet, and I thought it would be great to bring it to email. It’s a very salient problem. I think everyone has had this ‘uh oh’ moment,” said David Gobaud [`15], founder and CEO of Pluto Labs Inc. “Basically the Pluto service turns your emails into dynamic ones that you can maintain control over. I built a new email server that turns an email into a living document.”

A death blow for Obamacare?

em>An op-ed by Laurence H. Tribe. The moment the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, it became a litigation magnet. The lawsuits threatening to derail it were initially dismissed as ridiculous but became deadly serious by the time Chief Justice John Roberts’s decisive fifth vote two years later barely upheld the law’s individual mandate, while the Court’s decisive 7-2 vote left the health law’s Medicaid expansion in tatters. …But while Boehner’s empty threat makes headlines, a far more serious threat could deliver the death blow that the law’s opponents have been seeking. This new round of litigation attacks the health insurance exchanges at the heart of Obamacare.

Why should unions negotiate for workers who don’t pay their fair share?

An op-ed by Benjamin Sachs and Catherine Fisk. Last week in Harris vs. Quinn, the U.S. Supreme Court put unions in a bind when it ruled that unionized home-care workers cannot be required to pay for the representation that unions are required by law to provide to them. In cases across the country, including at least one in California challenging the rules for public school teachers (Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Assn.), lawyers are now asking courts to extend the rule of Harris to all public employees and to prohibit government employers from requiring employees to pay their fair share of union representation. Requiring unions to offer free representation to workers who do not want a union makes no sense.

The right to be forgotten ruling leaves nagging doubts (registration)

An op-ed by Jonathan Zittrain. Last week Google created an advisory committee to help it implement the “right to be forgotten” online that has been demanded by the European Court of Justice. It has its work cut out: the search giant has received more than 70,000 requests since May to decouple a claimant’s name from search results that may be true but are deemed “irrelevant” and presumably reputation-damaging. Turning theory into practice has revealed unanswered questions – and some outright flaws – in the court’s decision.

Fox and Time Warner Need Each Other

An op-ed by Susan Crawford. In 2010, Gary Shteyngart’s “Super Sad True Love Story” amused readers with its futuristic depiction of people traveling via UnitedContinentalDeltamerican and banking with AlliedWasteCVSCitigroupCredit. In Shteyngart’s imagination, only two television channels provided all “Media”: Fox Liberty-Prime and Fox Liberty-Ultra. The merger of Time Warner Inc. and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc., apparently suggested by Rupert Murdoch last month, shows Shteyngart was only barely ahead of his time. As Time Warner shares climb to dizzying heights in response to the news — what investor doesn’t love a mega-merger? — it’s worth noticing how we got here.

Man of the World

A book review by Annette Gordon-Reed. Few if any men were ever better qualified, at least on paper, to serve as president of the United States than John Quincy Adams. A diplomat several times over, lawyer, senator, and secretary of state, he had grown up in a household with parents who had been center stage at the creation of the American union. By example and exhortation, John and Abigail Adams instilled in their precocious and talented son a deep faith in, and enthusiasm for, the American experiment.

Help a City, Write Its Budget

An op-ed by Susan Crawford. More than half of humanity now lives in cities; that number will rise to two-thirds by 2050, up from just 30 percent in 1950. Given the grave challenges facing the world’s booming urban areas — including global warming, economic dislocation, and crumbling basic infrastructure, among other torments — tomorrow’s mayors will need to take bold steps to ensure their constituents live in dignity and safety. One of the greatest obstacles to those steps is public distrust of government. For the past 20 years, Brazilian city governments have been experimenting with a way to counter that distrust: participatory budgeting, in which citizens have a hand in allocating resources.