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Today In ‘What Now’: Hamilton Nolan Is Back

Talking to Hamilton about GameStop, unions, yogurt, and more.

Mike Mozart/Open Grid Scheduler/Hamilton Nolan

Hello friends. In a shocking, unexpected twist, I am stepping out from behind the curtain as publisher of Discourse Blog and joining all you amazing readers in What Now Nation and helming this week’s premium newsletters (read: Jack asked me to do this). 

Today’s edition of What Now features an exclusive interview with none other than Hamilton Nolan—labor reporter for In These Times and the Washington Post public editor for the Columbia Journalism Review. He is also a former senior writer for Splinter (RIP) and Gawker (RIP)—and if you can believe it, a pal and confidant. I called him up Saturday to talk about stonks, the labor movement, and of course, yogurt. (Follow Hamilton at @hamiltonnolan.)

Here’s a sneak peek of the interview with Hamilton. Our Steward tier members are the only ones who get the full edition of What Now sent to them. To read the whole interview, subscribe to our Steward tier. You’ll get the latest edition of What Now in your inbox about an hour after signing up.

We know that you’re a prolific and highly respected financial analyst. What’s your “take” on this whole GameStop drama

Hamilton Nolan: I think my main take is that it’s a stupid way to fight Wall Street. Obviously, you can see why it’s funny and that’s great. And you can see that people are pissed off at Wall Street on some level. And I think that’s great, too. But in terms of the actual mechanics of it, the problem is you’re not actually beating Wall Street. If hedge funds see that GameStop is going up, they can invest in GameStop too. There’s a million hedge funds, there’s literally thousands and thousands of hedge funds. And so you pick one hedge fund and you’re like, ‘We’re going to fuck with this one hedge fund right here.’ But meanwhile, a thousand other hedge funds are going to jump on what you’re doing and make money off what you’re doing. I appreciate the sentiment, but I would urge people to channel that sentiment into some kind of political activity that might actually fuck with Wall Street instead of doing this.

You’ve written a lot about the pitiful, essentially non-existent plan to boost union organizing and density at a national scale. What do you think should be happening? Basically the plan right now is, “Pray Congress does anything” and we’ve tried that it didn’t seem to work. 

It’s definitely a perpetual problem. And you know, it is true that we need to reform labor law and it is true that our city labor laws make it extremely hard to organize in a lot of places in the economy. But I also feel like—and I’ve always felt like this—you have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Like, yes, we’re, we’ve been fighting to reform labor laws for decades, unsuccessfully, but in the meantime, you still gotta be able to do that organizing because union density is going down, more or less, every year for decades, and that is not sustainable. So what I would do is take a lot of the resources that organized labor puts into electoral politics and put those resources into union organizing, because I think that the fundamental mistake that they make on a large scale is that they look to electoral politics for their power.

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