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Boston Review Magazine May-June 2015 Back Issue

View Reviews   |   Write Review Only £4.49 Founded in 1975, Boston Review is a non-profit, reader-supported political and literary magazine—a public space for discussion of ideas and culture. We put a range of voices and views in dialogue on the web (without paywalls or commercial ads) and in print (four times a year)—covering lots of ground from politics and philosophy to poetry, fiction, book reviews, and criticism. One premise ties it all together: that a flourishing democracy depends on public discussion and the open exchange of ideas.

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Boston Review  |  May-June 2015  


Are Internet-based companies like Amazon, Uber, and Airbnb simply easing transactions, or does their conduct call for public scrutiny? In our lead article, Brooklyn Law School Professor Sabeel Rahman makes a case for public scrutiny. He observes that we now focus regulatory debates on market prices and consumer welfare. On that conception, it is hard to see how these companies raise any concerns; their goods and services are cheap, after all. But if we return to a broader conception of regulatory purposes, rooted in Progressive Era ideas, we recognize the dangerous pressures excessive corporate power can impose on suppliers, workers, and consumers alike.

We find an important point of entry for this more expansive set of concerns in the FCC’s recent ruling on net neutrality. Rahman argues that we should think of Internet-based companies as “platforms” with broad power over producers, consumers, and even the public and should regulate them in that light.

Respondents are not all convinced. Some urge a more serious enforcement of existing labor law. Some criticize Rahman for not recognizing the profound economic impact of the Internet. Others anticipate a flourishing of peer-owned or open-source alternatives to corporate power. As the forum underscores, we are already making, by act or omission, profoundly consequential choices.

Two other essays focus similarly on the distribution of rewards brought by change. Reviewing Christopher Beauchamp’s Invented by Law, Graeme Gooday revisits Alexander Graham Bell’s “invention” of the telephone and the role of patent law in creating undeserved returns. And Sarah Hill looks at the beginnings of economic transformation in Cuba, where winners and losers are already emerging.

Finally, Marie Gottschalk reminds us of the limits of economic models in addressing moral issues. And don’t miss the winning poems from the 92nd Street Y’s “Discovery” contest on page 68.
Founded in 1975, Boston Review is a non-profit, reader-supported political and literary magazine—a public space for discussion of ideas and culture. We put a range of voices and views in dialogue on the web (without paywalls or commercial ads) and in print (four times a year)—covering lots of ground from politics and philosophy to poetry, fiction, book reviews, and criticism. One premise ties it all together: that a flourishing democracy depends on public discussion and the open exchange of ideas.
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