Corporate Greed, Not Wages, Is Behind Inflation. It’s Time for Price Controls
Robert Reich
/
Guardian UK

Corporations are using rising costs as an excuse to increase their prices even higher, resulting in record profits. We need limited price controls to break this cycle

On Wednesday, policymakers at the Federal Reserve – America’s central bank – continued their battle against inflation with a third straight supersize interest-rate increase. And they warned that they’re not done. They’ll continue to raise borrowing costs until inflation is tamed.

They assume that the underlying economic problem is a tight labor market, causing wages to rise – and prices to rise in response. And they believe interest rate increases are necessary to slow this wage-price inflation.

This is dead wrong.

Wage increases have not even kept up with inflation. Most workers’ paychecks are shrinking in terms of real purchasing power. Rather than causing inflation, wages are actually reducing inflationary pressures.

The underlying economic problem is profit-price inflation. It’s caused by corporations raising their prices above their increasing costs.

Corporations are using those increasing costs – of materials, components and labor – as excuses to increase their prices even higher, resulting in bigger profits. This is why corporate profits are close to levels not seen in over half a century.

Corporations have the power to raise prices without losing customers because they face so little competition. Since the 1980s, two-thirds of all American industries have become more concentrated.

Why are grocery prices through the roof? Because just four companies control 85% of meat and poultry processing. Just one corporation sets the price for most of the nation’s seed corn. And two giant firms dominate consumer staples.

All are raising prices and increasing profits because they can.

Big pharma, comprising five giants, is causing drug prices to soar.

The airline industry has gone from 12 carriers in 1980 to just four today, all rapidly raising ticket prices.

Wall Street has consolidated into five giant banks, raking in record profits on the spreads between the interest they pay on deposits and what they charge on loans.

Broadband is dominated by three giant cable companies, all raising their prices.

Automobile dealers are enjoying record profits as they raise the retail prices of automobiles.

Gas prices have started to drop but big oil still has the power to raise prices at the pump far higher than the costs of crude.

And so on.

This is why Congress and the administration need to take direct action against profit-price inflation, rather than rely solely on the Fed to raise interest rates and put the burden of fighting inflation on average working people who are not responsible for it.

Bold antitrust enforcement is essential. Even the credible threat of antitrust enforcement can deter corporations from raising prices higher than their costs.

A windfall profits tax could also be helpful. This would be a temporary tax on price increases exceeding the producer price index’s costs of producing consumer goods.

Price controls should be a backstop. The current inflation, emerging from the pandemic, is analogous to the inflation after the second world war when economists advocated temporary price controls to buy time to overcome supply bottlenecks and prevent corporate profiteering.

Limited price controls should be considered now, for the same reasons.

The inflation we are now experiencing is not due to wage gains from excessive worker power. It is due to profit gains from excessive corporate power.

It’s profits, not wages, that need to be controlled.

Global Warming Temps Are Up – Danger Ahead

Our Atmospheric CO2 is now past the point that in the Deep Past has Meant the Melting of the Antarctic Ice Sheets

Juan Cole – Professor of History – University of Michigan

Sept 26, 2022

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – So as a historian, I am particularly interested in what the past tells us about the present. I’ve taught courses on climate change in history. But of course my kind of history doesn’t go back very far from the point of view of physical scientists. The academic discipline of “history” is really the history of humanity since the invention of writing. Even for the world history textbook at Cambridge in which I was involved I doubt we cited any document older than 4,000 years. Writing systems emerged in what is now Iraq around 5,200 years ago. Excitingly enough, scientists reconstructing the history of the earth before humans evolved have developed tools to do so that are increasingly precise.

Given our current predicament, of a rapidly heating globe, we are especially interested in looking at past periods similar to our own. One way to do so is to find proxies for the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 

Another way to approach the problem is to find ways of knowing the average surface temperature of the earth’s oceans at various points in the past. For instance, as I explained last year, scientists have “examined calcareous fossils (surviving shells of microorganisms that lived close to the surface of the Pacific Ocean) to determine the average temperature in which the single-cell organisms called foraminifers, lived. You see, there is a ratio in their little shells of calcium to magnesium. The hotter the water in which they lived, the more magnesium their shells absorbed.” 

There are also ways of knowing how many parts per million of carbon dioxide there were in the atmosphere during past geologic eras. CO2 largely increased before 1750 because of volcanic activity, which could in some eras be intense over millions of years. There are various carbon sinks like the oceans and igneous rocks that scrub the CO2 out of the atmosphere over time, so if the volcanoes settle down, the CO2 decreases. Since carbon dioxide is an efficient heat-trapping gas, if you know the parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere you can have a fair idea of how hot it was. 

A team from Victoria University in Wellington, NZ and Birmingham University in the UK looked at the single-celled, bacteria-like archea. U Birmingham’s science newsletter explains, “The archaea adjust the composition of their outer membrane lipids in response to changing sea temperatures. By studying these changes, scientists can draw conclusions about the ancient sea temperature which would have surrounded a particular sample as it died.”

The cite is Duncan, B., McKay, R., Levy, R. et al. Climatic and tectonic drivers of late Oligocene Antarctic ice volume,”. Nat. Geosci. (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-022-01025-x

So this ambitious study was able to use the archea molecular fossils to examine changes in surface sea temperatures over the past 45 million years, and to match them up with what ice cores tell us about the extent of glaciation at the poles. They found that with one minor exception, there was an exact line-up between hot surface temperatures in the oceans and glacial minimums, periods when the ice at the poles melted, causing as much as 150 feet of sea level rise. 

Here in Ann Arbor, I am 840 feet above sea level. I looked it up. So we’d be OK. But lower Manhattan is only 7-13 feet above sea level, so it just isn’t going to be there after a while. (Just to be clear, I really like lower Manhattan and say this with enormous regret).

For my purposes, here is the money passage: “values much lower than 400 ppm (for example, ~280 ppm) are required for marine ice-sheet advance onto the mid-continental shelf of the Ross Sea, while above 400 ppm marine-based ice is absent from West Antarctica and sectors of East Antarctica.”

What they are saying is that when the concentration of carbon dioxide is on the order of 280 parts per million or less, the Antarctic ice sheet advanced into the Ross Sea’s continental shelf. When there were 400 parts per million or more of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the West Antarctic ice sheet and some of that of East Antarctica disappears from the record.

Article continues after bonus IC video 
CBS Miami: “”Doomsday Glacier” The Size Of Florida Is Melting Quickly, Scientists Fear” 

The Importance Of Understanding The Full History Of A Laws Creation And How It Is Being Used Today

Heather Cox Richardson

In Arizona, Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson has restored a law put into effect by Arizona’s Territorial legislature in 1864 and then reworked in 1901 that has been widely interpreted as a ban on all abortions except to save a woman’s life. Oddly, I know quite a bit about the 1864 Arizona Territorial legislature, and its story matters as we think about the attempt to impose its will in modern America.

In fact, the Civil War era law seems not particularly concerned with women handling their own reproductive care—it actually seems to ignore that practice entirely. The laws for this territory, chaotic and still at war in 1864, appear to reflect the need to rein in a lawless population of men. 

The criminal code talks about “miscarriage” in the context of other male misbehavior. It focuses at great length on dueling, for example— making illegal not only the act of dueling (punishable by three years in jail) but also having anything to do with a duel. And then, in the section that became the law now resurrected in Arizona, the law takes on the issue of poisoning. 

In that context, the context of punishing those who secretly administer poison to kill someone, it says that anyone who uses poison or instruments “with the intention to procure the miscarriage of any woman then being with child” would face two to five years in jail, “Provided, that no physician shall be affected by the last clause of this section, who in the discharge of his professional duties deems it necessary to produce the miscarriage of any woman in order to save her life.” 

The next section warns against cutting out tongues or eyes, slitting noses or lips, or “rendering…useless” someone’s arm or leg.

The law that is currently interpreted to outlaw abortion care seemed designed to keep men in the chaos of the Civil War from inflicting damage on others—including pregnant women—rather than to police women’s reproductive care, which women largely handled on their own or through the help of doctors who used drugs and instruments to remove what they called dangerous blockages of women’s natural cycles in the four to five months before fetal movement became obvious.

Written to police the behavior of men, the code tells a larger story about power and control. 

The Arizona Territorial legislature in 1864 had 18 men in the lower House of Representatives and 9 men in the upper house, the Council, for a total of 27 men. They met on September 26, 1864, in Prescott. The session ended about six weeks later, on November 10. 

The very first thing the legislators did was to authorize the governor to appoint a commissioner to prepare a code of laws for the territory. But William T. Howell, a judge who had arrived in the territory the previous December, had already written one, which the legislature promptly accepted as a blueprint.

Although they did discuss his laws, the members later thanked Judge Howell for “preparing his excellent and able Code of Laws” and, as a mark of their appreciation, provided that the laws would officially be called “The Howell Code.” (They also paid him a handsome $2500, which was equivalent to at least 5 years’ salary for a workingman in that era.) Judge Howell wrote the territory’s criminal code essentially single-handedly.

The second thing the legislature did was to give a member of the House of Representatives a divorce from his wife. 

Then they established a county road near Prescott.

Then they gave a local army surgeon a divorce from his wife. 

In a total of 40 laws, the legislature incorporated a number of road companies, railway companies, ferry companies, and mining companies. They appropriated money for schools and incorporated the Arizona Historical Society.

These 27 men constructed a body of laws to bring order to the territory and to jump-start development. But their vision for the territory was a very particular one. 

The legislature provided that “No black or mulatto, or Indian, Mongolian, or Asiatic, shall be permitted to [testify in court] against any white person,” thus making it impossible for them to protect their property, their families, or themselves from their white neighbors. It declared that “all marriages between a white person and a [Black person], shall…be absolutely void.”

And it defined the age of consent for sexual intercourse to be just ten years old (even if a younger child had “consented”). 

So, in 1864, a legislature of 27 white men created a body of laws that discriminated against Black people and people of color and considered girls as young as 10 able to consent to sex, and they adopted a body of criminal laws written by one single man.

And in 2022, one of those laws is back in force in Arizona.

Benson, Nessel up big in new poll as GOP challengers struggle with name recognition

Scott Pearson doesn’t know much about Matthew DePerno or Kristina Karamo. But he knows they’re Republicans and they’re not the current attorney general or secretary of state, so the 58-year-old autoworker from Shelby Township told a pollster recently he’d vote for them this fall. “When I go to the polls, so maybe when other people are in the polls too, you look at the name (of the incumbent) and you go, ‘Wow, I know her. I know what she did, and I don’t like it. What’s the other guy? Let’s try that one,'” Pearson told the Free Press in a phone interview Thursday. “Sort of like, I went to this restaurant, I had the hamburger. I didn’t like it, let me try the spaghetti. That’s what we’re doing.” When the Free Press told Pearson that DePerno is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation because he allegedly tampered with voting equipment − DePerno has denied all wrongdoing − that made Pearson like the Kalamazoo attorney more. Then the Free Press told Pearson that Karamo previously spoke at a conference with ties to QAnon, a loosely organized group of conspiracy theorists who falsely believe the country is run by a “deep state” cadre of Satan-worshiping pedophiles, and suggested yoga is a “satanic ritual.”

His responses are indicative of a slew of problems facing the Republican candidates trying to oust Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, the Democratic incumbents.

A new poll commissioned by the Free Press and its media partners and conducted by Lansing-based company EPIC-MRA found Benson leads Karamo by 51-37 in the poll, and Nessel leads DePerno by a 48-39 margin. Both Democrats increased their leads, based on the findings of an August poll by the same company. Perhaps more concerning for both Republicans: Despite absentee ballots going out next week, and the general election less than 50 days from now, more than 3 out of 4 people polled didn’t recognize DePerno’s or Karamo’s names.

The poll of 600 likely voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. It was conducted between Sept. 15 and Sept. 19 by live interviewers, with roughly 70% of respondents reached on their cellphones.

During a recent meeting with the Free Press editorial board, DePerno acknowledged name recognition was an issue for his campaign. A lot of people don’t know me, they only know sort of a caricature of me that’s created by the media,” he said, also suggesting journalists mischaracterized some of his efforts to undermine the 2020 election.

The DePerno and Karamo campaigns did not immediately respond to questions about the poll findings. Sarah Stevenson, a spokesperson for the Nessel campaign, said the attorney general’s lead would only grow as voters learn more about DePerno’s unfounded allegations about voter fraud and his broad stance against abortion rights.

Voters know that AG Nessel will stand up for their right to determine their own reproductive choices, fight to protect consumers from price-gougers and other scammers, and safeguard the will of Michigan voters no matter who they cast a ballot for,” Stevenson said. Benson spokesperson Liz Boyd said the campaign is not concentrating on poll results. “We’re not focused on polls though this one shows it is becoming readily apparent that the choice for secretary of state is clear,” Boyd said.

“Secretary Benson is on the move and has the results to prove it compared to her opponent who is an election denier, more focused on criminalizing abortion than on running the Secretary of State’s Office.”

Barring a “catastrophic issue,” EPIC-MRA President Bernie Porn said this could be a rough fall for DePerno and Karamo.

“You need to get well known before you can get people to have a favorable opinion of you,” Porn said, noting reports indicating both Karamo and DePerno have far smaller campaign war chests than Benson and Nessel.

“There’s just going to be a real uphill battle for them, especially when the top of the ticket is running as strong as (Gov. Gretchen) Whitmer is and it’s starting to have an impact down the ballot.”

The same poll found Whitmer with a 55% to 39% advantage over GOP challenger Tudor Dixon.

But Anna Heaton, a former press secretary for ex-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and other Republicans, thinks there’s still time for DePerno and Karamo to increase their name identification. She noted both are supported by former President Donald Trump, and suggested his Michigan rally on Oct. 1 will put their names in front of voters more attuned to the political cycle as Election Day approaches. She also said that in theory, there’s a world where not knowing too much about DePerno and Karamo may actually help their campaigns “These are two candidates where all press is not good press. Especially when it comes to independent and swing voters, knowing less about their more problematic statements and alleged criminal actions might actually earn them a vote for simply having an R next to their name,” Heaton said. Porn said that even if that were the case, both DePerno and Karamo would need to earn essentially all of the Republican vote and still grab enough independents to win. But his poll found that DePerno grabbed 81% of the GOP respondents polled, with Karamo at 75%. While 41% of respondents overall self-identified as Republicans, both DePerno and Karamo came in below that percentage in terms of all poll respondents who would vote for them.

“Now when you’ve got the Republicans running below the party base − not only Dixon, but also DePerno and Karamo − that’s real red flag,” Porn said. “Although the Republicans may well vote for them, it’s not going to be in the same numbers. And they’re not running as strong in terms of the vote among Republicans as Nessel and Benson are among Democrats.” Both Nessel and Benson earned more than 90% of the vote from self-identified Democrats in the poll. The general election is Nov. 8, but absentee ballots will be available starting late next week.

Detroit Free Press

Putin & Trump On The Ropes – Heather Cox Richardson

Russian president Vladimir Putin announced today that he is mobilizing the Russian population to fight Ukraine. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu put that number at 300,000 soldiers. At the same time, the legislature abruptly changed the laws to inflict harsh penalties on those who don’t report to military duty, who surrender, or who refuse to fight. Reports suggest that 20–40% of the soldiers from some units have quit.

The cost of airline tickets out of Russia immediately skyrocketed.

Having called for the territories Russia claims to hold referenda on annexation to Russia, and clearly expecting that those votes will call for annexation, Putin also said that “Russia will use all the instruments at its disposal to counter a threat against its territorial integrity—this is not a bluff.” He is arguing that he will consider any Ukrainian attempt to retake its own territory as an attack on Russia and has told his people that the West is responsible for the Ukrainian resistance to Russian conquest. He is threatening to use nuclear weapons to conquer Ukraine, in what seems an admission that Russia is on the ropes. 

Putin began his attack on Ukraine in late February with the expectation it would be short and decisive. More than six months later, the Russian economy is in tatters, the armies are collapsing, and the future of Putin’s administration is uncertain. 

President Joe Biden responded in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly in New York. He reminded his audience that the Ukraine crisis was “a brutal, needless war—a war chosen by one man…. This world should see these outrageous acts for what they are. Putin claims he had to act because Russia was threatened. But no one threatened Russia, and no one other than Russia sought conflict.”

Biden urged the world to stand firm against Russia’s aggression and reiterated that “the United States is opening an era of relentless diplomacy to address the challenges that matter most to people’s lives—all people’s lives: tackling the climate crisis… strengthening global health security; feeding the world.”

It is no secret, Biden said, “that in the contest between democracy and autocracy, the United States—and I, as President—champion a vision for our world that is grounded in the values of democracy.”

Midday, today, New York attorney general Letitia James announced that her office has filed a $250 million civil lawsuit against Donald Trump, the Trump Organization, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and two executives from the company—Allan Weisselberg and Jeff McConney—accusing them of years of fraudulent financial practices, lying to banks about the value of their assets by billions of dollars while undervaluing those same properties for tax purposes. 

The investigation began more than three years ago when Trump’s fixer, Michael Cohen, testified under oath that Trump lied about the value of his properties to get better loan terms and lower taxes. The instances James identified today were eye-popping. Mar-a-Lago is worth around $75 million; Trump valued it at $739 million based on its potential for development even though Trump himself had signed deeds sharply restricting that development. Rental units worth $750,000 were valued at nearly $50 million.

“The pattern of fraud that was used by Mr. Trump and the Trump organization for their own financial benefit was astounding,” James said.

Forced to testify in the investigation last month, Trump refused to answer questions, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination more than 440 times. In a civil trial, jurors can draw negative inferences from a witness taking the Fifth. Last month, James rejected an offer from the Trump Organization to settle the case.

The suit seeks to recover the profits from the scheme, to ban the Trumps from engaging in real estate transactions for five years, and to prohibit Trump or his children from running any business licensed in New York state. James also filed a criminal referral to federal prosecutors and a tax fraud referral to the IRS.

If the suit succeeds, it will devastate the Trump Organization.

Then tonight, in a major victory for the Department of Justice, a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta ruled that Judge Aileen Cannon’s lower court “abused its discretion” when it temporarily banned the Justice Department from using the roughly 100 documents with classification markings in its criminal investigation of the former president. 

The decision was unanimous. Two of the three judges on the panel were appointed by Trump. 

At issue are the documents Trump stole from the U.S. government when he left the White House. All of those documents belong to the U.S. government—that is, the American people—but some of them are classified, some at the highest level of classification. 

Today’s struggle is not over the 184 classified documents in the first 15 boxes of material Trump returned to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in January 2022, or the 38 additional classified documents recovered after a subpoena. It’s about the 100 or more documents with classified markings FBI agents recovered from Mar-a-Lago on August 8. 

Trump wanted a special master to determine if any of the documents recovered on August 8 actually belonged to him or were protected by attorney-client privilege, and a court to rule that until the special master had reviewed the documents, the Department of Justice could not use them in a criminal investigation of the former president.

On Labor Day, Judge Cannon agreed with Trump, so the Justice Department asked for the part of her decision that involved the classified documents to be stopped, since it could not untangle the criminal investigation from the investigation into the damage the national security had suffered from this breach. She refused, but today’s decision gave the DOJ what it wanted.

“For our part, we cannot discern why Plaintiff would have an individual interest in or need for any of the one-hundred documents with classification markings,” it said. “Classified documents…are ‘owned by, produced by or for, or…under the control of the United States Government’… and “they include information the ‘unauthorized disclosure [of which] could reasonably be expected to cause identifiable or describable damage to the national security.’” It continued: Trump “has not even attempted to show that he has a need to know the information contained in the classified documents.” 

It noted that while Trump “suggests that he may have declassified these documents when he was President,” “the record contains no evidence that any of these records were declassified,” and that yesterday, Trump’s lawyers “resisted providing any evidence that he had declassified any of these documents.” The U.S., the court said, “would suffer irreparable injury” if the bar on using the documents for a criminal investigation stays in place, because that investigation is “inextricably intertwined” with the ongoing national security review. The government needs to figure out who saw the documents, whether they were compromised, and what else might be missing.

This afternoon, before the ruling, in an interview on the Fox News Channel, Trump said: “I declassified the documents when they left the White House…. There doesn’t have to be a process as I understand it. You’re the president of the United States, you can declassify…even by thinking about it.” (In fact, there is a process for declassification.) He also suggested that the archivists at NARA  are “a radical left group of people” who were hiding documents, and that maybe the FBI was looking “for the Hillary Clinton emails” when they searched Mar-a-Lago. 

Also today, CNN reported that Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who was active in the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, will speak to the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

To prevent any future attempt to overturn an election, the House today passed a fix to the Electoral Count Act, making it clear the vice president cannot refuse to count certified electors and making it harder for congress members to object to those certified ballots. The vote was 229 to 203. Only nine Republicans, most of whom are retiring or who lost their primaries, joined the Democrats to pass the measure.

Notes:

https://www.politico.eu/article/flights-leaving-russia-sell-out-after-putin-announces-mobilization/
https://www.wsj.com/articles/putin-orders-draft-of-reservists-for-war-in-ukraine-threatens-nuclear-response-11663742871
https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2022/09/21/remarks-by-president-biden-before-the-77th-session-of-the-united-nations-general-assembly/

What Mrs. Bailey Taught Me in A.P. History Changed My Life
Sept. 21, 2022

Esau McCaulley – Guest Essay NYTIMES

As a youth, school let me test my mettle against the history and literature books I carried to and from the rundown house I called home. My body may have been trapped in poverty, but my mind was free to wander. Much like it was for my enslaved forebears, who were forbidden by law from learning to read and write, schooling was resistance. Learning was an assertion of self, an affirmation of the God-given right to create a future more hopeful than my present.

Much of my love for learning came from my mother. She told us that a better future lay on the other side of dreams and hard work, the evidence of which could be found on our report cards.

But parents need partners. Parents can send us to school full of purpose, but they need teachers to co-sign their vision. Teachers have the power to build or destroy, to plant or uproot hope in young minds. In the midst of a debate about the content being presented in America’s schools, the equally pressing issue of how teachers teach is in danger of being lost. I can testify to the life-changing gift of quality teaching because I received just that in an A.P. U. S. history class my junior year of high school.

Mrs. Bailey, who taught the class, from the beginning assured all of us that we could take the A.P. test, pass it, and get college credit. College credit was no small thing. At the time, my sister was in her freshman year at Tuskegee. She would be the first person on either side of our family tree to receive her college degree. College credit as a high schooler seemed impossible, and when I protested that I didn’t have money to pay for the test, Mrs. Bailey helped locate the funding.

She held study sessions during lunch and after school, where we explored the often troubled and sometimes glorious history of this country. The day I found out my result on the test felt like a pivot point in my life. I had done well enough to receive college credit. Mrs. Bailey told me: “You are a junior in high school and are smart enough to be in college. You can be whatever you want.” Suddenly, the world felt larger, my hazy future a little clearer. That class was the reason I majored in history with the goal of becoming a high school history teacher.

Mrs. Bailey did more than tell us we could do it. She was not mere sunshine and encouragement. She forced us to have opinions and defend them. And she was not alone. She was part of a cadre of teachers known for genuinely trying to get us to engage with the material and ourselves. Mr. Crump had us fumbling around in Plato’s cave. Mrs. Carter taught us the art of stringing sentences together and making coherent arguments. Mrs. Miller introduced us to literature that posed the ultimate questions.

There is roiling debate about what is taught in classrooms raging all over America. The question “What are they teaching our children?” is on the lips of parents and politicians everywhere.

Some of this can be dismissed as fearmongering, an attempt to shield children from the troubling aspects of our nation’s past. But not all of it. As a parent, I care deeply about how ideas are presented to my children. It is more than fair to attend to these issues. Anyone who cares about the future of this country should interrogate how its young people are being formed.

But the fundamental question of what makes a healthy classroom cannot be restricted to the material that is taught. Teachers are not robots tasked with reading approved scripts. Most students who fall in love with learning do so not because of any particular curriculum but because they encounter a teacher who gives them permission to think. Great teachers force us to wrestle with questions that have plagued philosophers, politicians, religious leaders, poets and scribes for millenniums.

How do we order society in such a way that increases human flourishing and limits suffering? What is the good, the true and the beautiful? How do we make sense of the sins of the past and the way the legacies of those failures follow us to the present? What is justice? What is love and why does it hurt us so? What is the good life? Is there a God who orders the galaxies, or did we come from chaos, destined only to return to it?

The answers to those questions I received from my teachers varied. I do not judge the worth of my former educators by whether I agreed with them. I value those who made me think and did not punish me when I diverged from them.

If there is a danger facing this generation of students, it is not the absence of information. The internet exists; politicians are fools if they think that they can hide the troubles of the world. If parents and politicians truly care about their children’s education, they should not only ask what a teacher said about a controversial issue. They should also ask how the teacher said it, and whether students were assessed based on the quality of their work rather than conformity to a particular ideological perspective.

This ability to hold fair and stirring conversation is the gift that all great teachers have. It is impossible to legislate. This is a gift that can either be honed or ground to rubble by unrelenting competing agendas. We must protect teachers who do it well and do not so overburden and underpay them that they despair of their vocation.

I taught high school for a few years, and now I’m a college professor. The students who enter my classroom come from every walk of life. They have different economic backgrounds, formative experiences and familial histories. They differ on politics and religion. They have been fed a steady stream of social and news media that tells them that those who disagree with them are not only wrong but fundamentally evil.

They are familiar with a culture that is more attuned to shaming and shouting than reason. It is my job and the work of every teacher to form this group of individuals into a community of inquiry. I do not measure my success by the number of students who adopt all my opinions.

If the solutions to the problems that plague our republic were easy to come by and apply, the hopeful future we long for would have arrived some time ago. No, the work of educators is to help this generation forge new and hopefully better paths, some beyond our imagination.

Appeals Court Frees Justice Dept. to Use Sensitive Files Seized From Trump

A federal judge had temporarily barred the department from using the records marked as classified in its inquiry into whether the former president illegally retained national defense documents.

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Wednesday freed the Justice Department to resume using documents marked as classified that were seized from former President Donald J. Trump, blocking for now a lower court’s order that had strictly limited the investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of government materials.

In a strongly worded 29-page decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit set aside key parts of an order by a Florida federal judge that has kept the department from using about 100 files with classification markings in its inquiry into whether Mr. Trump illegally retained national defense documents and obstructed repeated efforts to recover them.

The appeals court also agreed with the Justice Department that Mr. Trump’s lawyers — and an independent arbiter recently appointed to review the seized materials — need not look at the classified documents that the F.B.I. carted away from Mr. Trump’s estate, Mar-a-Lago, on Aug. 8.

The Justice Department “argues that the district court likely erred in exercising its jurisdiction to enjoin the United States’ use of the classified records in its criminal investigation and to require the United States to submit the marked classified documents to a special master for review,” a three-judge panel of the appeals court wrote. “We agree.”

The decision by the Atlanta-based court was a repudiation of the decision by Judge Aileen M. Cannon, whom Mr. Trump appointed to the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida, to broadly intervene in the Justice Department’s investigation. The appellate ruling will permit the arbiter, known as a special master, to review most of the more than 11,000 files seized from Mar-a-Lago, but allow prosecutors unfettered access to the smaller batch of classified records.

The appellate panel consisted of two other Trump appointees, Judges Britt Grant and Andrew L. Brasher, and Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum, an Obama appointee.

House Passes Overhaul of Electoral Count, Moving to Avert Another Jan. 6 Crisis

WASHINGTON — The House on Wednesday took the first major step to respond to the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol, voting mostly along party lines to overhaul the 135-year-old Electoral Count Act, the law that former President Donald J. Trump tried to exploit that day to overturn his defeat.

The bill was the most significant legislative answer yet to the riot and the monthslong campaign by Mr. Trump and his allies to invalidate the 2020 presidential election, but it also underscored the lingering partisan divide over Jan. 6 and the former president’s continuing grip on his party.

It cleared a divided House, passing on a 229 to 203 vote. All but nine Republicans opposed the measure, wary of angering Mr. Trump and unwilling to back legislation co-written by Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and a leader of the House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6 and what led to them.

The partisan division could complicate future negotiations with the Senate, which is moving ahead with its own bipartisan version of the legislation that differs from the House bill in some significant respects. Lawmakers now say they do not expect final approval before Congress returns for a lame-duck session after the Nov. 8 midterm elections.