Five Best Friday Columns

Kevin Drum forecasts a gloomy future for online privacy, Kimberly Strassel discusses Romney's missed opportunity, and Paul Farhi explains why Siri is making everyone's cell phone coverage worse

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Kevin Drum in Mother Jones on the end of privacy. Latching onto Google's recent announcement that it can combine all your information it gleans from you into one mega-profile, Drum takes a bleak look at where personal privacy is headed. "If Google can change its privacy policy today, it can change it tomorrow. And it will. No company is an unstoppable juggernaut forever, and Google is already showing signs of becoming an ordinary corporation that has to scrap for profits just like everyone else. This is what's motivating their policy change this week, and someday it's likely to motivate them to sell my personal information after all."

Paul Krugman in The New York Times on Apple's job growth lessons. Piggybacking on his newspaper's revelation that Apple doesn't create many American jobs, Krugman argues for what does create jobs: "industrial clusters, — in which producers, specialized suppliers, and workers huddle together to their mutual benefit." It's what makes China such an attractive place to manufacture and it's not something that only occurs in low-wage developing countries , he notes. "Germany remains a highly successful exporter even with workers who cost, on average, $44 an hour — much more than the average cost of American workers. And this success has a lot to do with the support its small and medium-sized companies — the famed Mittelstand — provide to each other via shared suppliers and the maintenance of a skilled work force." Bringing the message home, he says "The point is that successful companies ... don’t exist in isolation. Prosperity depends on the synergy between companies, on the cluster, not the individual entrepreneur."

Kimberley Strassel in The Wall Street Journal on Romney's missed opportunity. After getting hammered by Newt Gingrich for the last two weeks as a "Massachusetts moderate," Romney missed his golden moment, Strassel argues. "A candidate with even half the usual complement of political antennae would have seen this as a game-changing opportunity to win with conservatives. It was Mr. Romney's moment to turn his occasional defense of Bain Capital into a broad rallying cry for capitalism. Florida posed the perfect backdrop to elevate his causes of free-market housing and energy. It was a chance to unveil a simpler and bolder economic reform plan."

Paul Farhi in The Washington Post on how Siri is ruining everybody's phone service. "Siri’s dirty little secret is that she’s a bandwidth guzzler, the digital equivalent of a 10-miles-per-gallon Hummer H1," he writes. Normally, this would be an individual person's problem but it's not because iPhone users and non-iPhone users typically use the same networks. "As networks become congested, everyone’s service deteriorates. Private desire becomes a public issue. Calls are dropped or never completed; Internet access slows. First-class airline passengers don’t really compromise service for those in coach. But bandwidth hogs do."

David Paul Kuhn in Real Clear Politics on how Gingrich could fade, again. "Gingrich’s primary vulnerabilities are a layer beneath the surface. Republicans’ attachment to Gingrich remains fickle. Gingrich’s appeal to men is significantly offset by his weaknesses with women (see Insider Advantage polling on Sunday and Wednesday). The GOP electorate is still digesting who Gingrich is and, perhaps more consequentially, is not."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.