Smart Ideas: Down on the Farm

Plus: College conservatives grasping for a message.

AP Photo/Seth Perlman
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April 24, 2019, 8 p.m.

Farmers squeezed by tractor industry

Adam Minter, writing for Bloomberg Opinion

The tractor industry has gained a virtual monopoly over dealerships and authorized repair centers, which is “costing farmers—and independent repair shops—dearly.” To that end, 20 states “are currently considering versions of Fair Repair,” which would require manufacturers to end their repair monopolies by “providing equal access to service manuals, diagnostic tools and parts.” Minnesota is likely to pass such legislation first. The auto industry “reached a binding settlement with associations representing independent auto repair business” to allow them access to diagnostic tools. Rather than wage fights in all 50 states, the farm-equipment manufacturers “should seek a similar settlement while they can.”

College conservatives veer off course

Avi Woolf, writing for The Bulwark

College conservative groups have lost the thread, engaging in a “self-defeating” strategy of treating every battle as a free-speech battle. While it’s a “noble goal in theory and practice ... it is at least sometimes associated with efforts to provoke for provocation’s sake, to ‘own’ or ‘trigger the libs’ rather than try to seriously convince either fence-sitters or tried and true liberals of the truth of conservative ideas.” Campus conservatives have been “reduced to training people to get Republicans elected (or be elected as Republicans) and ensure the federal government protect the country and stay off of citizens’ backs” instead of offering a positive vision. For average college students, the conservative movement “as it stands now has absolutely nothing to offer them outside of ideas on how to vote every few years and perhaps what to read or watch.”

A climate crisis for polar bears and people

Justine Calma, writing for Grist

As the effects of climate change have become more apparent, communications around the issue are changing. “In the early days of the climate movement, focusing on wildlife was the method to make the issue palpable to mainstream audiences. Polar bears became the de facto furry mascot of our warming planet,” but now, effects on human beings are beginning to take center stage. However, “some conservationists and environmental advocates don’t think there needs to be a dichotomy between nature and people when it comes to talking about climate change,” a theory which is borne out by nature documentaries’ continued success.


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