Consistent with my self-reminder yesterday that it's worth giving compliments when there is a legit reason to do so, especially about people or institutions that are usually the occasion for gripes, here are two more illustrations:
1) Yesterday on the WSJ's op-ed page, Gov. Jon Huntsman made his voluntary absence from the embarrassing CNN/WWE* GOP debate/smackdown a win-win from his point of view. Win #1: he avoided being part of this spectacle, which included lots of entertaining vitriol but few moments when a sane person could think, "I have just heard a public figure talk seriously about our public problems." And #2, he could instead use the time to write about the predicament of America's bigger-than-ever new banks. For instance, with emphasis added:
More than three years after the crisis and the accompanying bailouts, the six largest American financial institutions are significantly bigger than they were before the crisis, having been encouraged to snap up Bear Stearns and other competitors at bargain prices. These banks now have assets worth over 66% of gross domestic product--at least $9.4 trillion, up from 20% of GDP in the 1990s. There is no evidence that institutions of this size add sufficient value to offset the systemic risk they pose....
Hedge funds and private equity funds go out of business all the time when they make big mistakes, to the notice of few, because they are not too big to fail. There is no reason why banks cannot live with the same reality.
You can disagree, and I do, with Gov. Huntsman's proposed fixes and policy responses. But he makes a fully grown-up argument, unlike practically anything we have heard recently from the "debate" stage.
2) Fox News.Com has made itself a platform for an impassioned defense of the Occupy Wall Street movement, by Sally Kohn. It contains such deviations from the prevailing Fox "class warfare" line as these:
In America today, 400 people have more wealth than the bottom 150 million combined. That's not because 150 million Americans are pathetically lazy or even unlucky....
Most of the Occupy Wall Street protesters aren't opposed to free market capitalism. In fact, what they want is an end to the crony capitalist system now in place... The protesters are not anti-American radicals. They are the defenders of the American Dream, the decision from the birth of our nation that success should be determined by hard work not royal bloodlines.
Sure, bank executives may work a lot harder than you and me or a mother of three doing checkout at a grocery store. Maybe the bankers work ten times harder. Maybe even a hundred times harder. But they're compensated a thousand times more.
The question is not how Occupy Wall Street protesters can find that gross discrepancy immoral. The question is why every one of us isn't protesting with them.
I'm not sure exactly how this ended up on the Fox site. Ailes out sick that day, perhaps with gout? A nervous glance over the shoulder at the growing signs of sympathy for the 99%? A (mistaken) judgment that the argument would be so weak that it would be its own rebuttal? Or just connections from Kohn's interview appearances on Fox? I don't know, but in my glass-half-full mood of the moment I'll say thanks and congrats to all involved: WSJ op-ed editors, FoxNews.com, Huntsman, and Kohn.
* Yes, this is a little joke. WWE was not an official co-sponsor of the debate. It only seemed that way.