In an effort to better acquaint you, the reader, with the VQR staff, members of our team will share excerpts from our personal reading—The Best 200 Words I Read All Week. From fact to fiction, from comedic to tragic, we hope you find as much to admire in these selections as we do.
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A $15 minimum wage is an antidepressant. It is a sleep aid. A diet. A stress reliever. It is a contraceptive, preventing teenage pregnancy. It prevents premature death. It shields children from neglect. But why? Poverty can be unrelenting, shame-inducing and exhausting. When people live so close to tA $15 minimum wage is an antidepressant. It is a sleep aid. A diet. A stress reliever. It is a contraceptive, preventing teenage pregnancy. It prevents premature death. It shields children from neglect. But why? Poverty can be unrelenting, shame-inducing and exhausting. When people live so close to the bone, a small setback can quickly spiral into a major trauma. Being a few days behind on the rent can trigger a hefty late fee, which can lead to an eviction and homelessness. An unpaid traffic ticket can lead to a suspended license, which can cause people to lose their only means of transportation to work. In the same way, modest wage increases have a profound impact on people’s well-being and happiness. Poverty will never be ameliorated on the cheap. But this truth should not prevent us from acknowledging how powerfully workers respond to relatively small income boosts.
Art Director Jenn Boggs
Excerpt from “Dollars on the Margins” in the New York Times by Matthew Desmond
He is a strange man, Jameel’s father. Believe it or not, he’s a sincere socialist, a genuine one. Not a rich ‘Liberal’ nor a wealthy The Nation reader; no, he is active in his ideas and was once imprisoned by Farouk’s gang. He often comes for a game: a tall, lean, elegant man who had a French education and who writes to L’Express of France. I like Dr. Hamza; as a matter of fact, I’d like to be like him: well-dressed and soberly aristocratic and having been imprisoned for socialist views. I would not like to go to prison, but I’d like to have been. Of course, Font isn’t going to be patronized and Dr. Hamza isn’t going to be patronizing; so there is a layer of sympathy separating them.
As I said, I went to the snooker club. I went behind the bar and watched Font run the vacuum cleaner over the carpets. There is a perpetual look of amazement on Font’s face which makes one want to answer an unasked question. The way he works the vacuum cleaner over the carpets with his eyebrows uplifted and his eyes wide, probing into the difficult turns and corners between tables, gives the impression that if he could only get the machine into that particular corner, he’d find the answer to whatever was puzzling him.
Associate Editor Alexander Brock
Excerpt from Beer in the Snooker Club by Waguih Ghali