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In OtherWords: January 24, 2017

Despite the occasional shutdown, some folks always seem to get their way in government.


We’re fresh off a brief government shutdown, brought on in part by the president’s move, months ago, to revoke the DACA program that protects around 700,000 undocumented young people.

This week in OtherWords, community college teacher Jill Richardson explains how that decision, along with lots of obstacles students may face, hurts the people she teaches.

Meanwhile, despite the occasional shutdown, some folks always seem to get their way in government.

Basav Sen shares some remarkable reporting on the role one deep-pocketed coal baron played in setting the Trump administration’s agenda. Sam Pizzigati explains the tragedy unfolding in Kentucky, where billionaire-backed politicians are poised to reverse the state’s miraculous progress in health coverage. And Jim Hightower lays out the rigged game Amazon is playing by turning state and local taxpayers across the country against each other.

Finally, there’s Khalil Bendib’s cartoon, illustrating the old GOP maxim about reducing government to a size “where it can be drowned in a bathtub.”

Also this week, Olivia Alperstein takes a look at the more modern anxieties about evil reflected in the new Star Wars film. If Darth Vader was a Nazi supervillain, Kylo Ren is more like an angsty teen in the sway of the modern alt-right. Both challenge the rest of us to consider how we’d respond.


Khalil Bendib /

  1. How One Coal Baron Set an Entire Administration’s Energy Agenda / Basav Sen
    In a political system awash with money, it’s Big Coal vs. democracy.
  2. A Battle Over More Than Just a Galaxy / Olivia Alperstein
    By speaking to current evils in the real world, the new Star Wars films should strike a powerful chord in all of us.
  3. Do the Poor Deserve Health Care? These Politicians Say No. / Sam Pizzigati
    Billionaire-backed politicians are turning Kentucky’s health care miracle into a tragedy.
  4. Why Some Students Fail / Jill Richardson
    For students on the margins, there’s only so much of them to go around.
  5. A Rigged Game Only Amazon Will Win / Jim Hightower
    The bidding war to host the retail giant’s second headquarters pits taxpayers across America against each other.
  6. Shutdown Accomplished / Khalil Bendib
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Peter Certo is the editorial manager of the Institute for Policy Studies and the editor of