This week #TCFBest peers behind the curtain at Amazon’s best-kept secret—an unregulated labor market that threatens to turn back the clock on 70 years of worker protections. We crank up a debate over a sweeping proposal from The New Atlantic to switch our cars from gasoline to methanol—a move that could disrupt OPEC’s stranglehold on energy prices and radically change American foreign policy in the process. Finally, we flip over to Slate, where Matt Yglesias asks whether consolidation in the cable industry has raised or lowered prices. The answer: It depends.
Turking in Silence
You probably know Amazon as a place for buying books. Or maybe as a place that lets you catch up on season 1 of The Americans. (See more on that below.) You probably didn’t know that Amazon is also home to the country’s largest unregulated labor market. TCF fellow and labor law expert Moshe Marvit takes an in-depth look at Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and finds that Amazon is rolling back the clock on basic worker protections like the minimum wage. Wind your way to The Nation for the full story.
From across the aisle, aerospace engineer Robert Zubrin makes the case for shifting American cars from gasoline to methanol. Writing in The New Atlantis, Zubrin argues that methanol is more energy-efficient per dollar, burns cleaner than oil, and can be produced in large quantities domestically. The shift would also help break the OPEC cartel. It’s an ambitious proposal—and one that would have far-reaching implications for American foreign policy and environmental policy. Motor over to The New Atlantis for a fascinating #longread.
Cutting the Cord
This week brought news that the two least-liked cable companies in the industry—Time Warner and Comcast—planned a $45 billion merger. The two companies say they must combine to meet the new challenges posed by services like Netflix, YouTube, and the aforementioned Amazon. The FCC must still determine whether the move will adversely affect consumers. Meanwhile, Slate’s Matt Yglesias asks whether cable prices have gone up or down in the last 17 years. The answer depends on just how many of those channels you watch. Click over to Slate to see why the answer isn’t a clear-cut yes or no.