5 Best Thursday Columns

Nicholas Kristof on "Teach for the World," E. J. Dionne and David Broder on the national debt, and more

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  • Nicholas Kristof on 'Teach for the World'  Fresh off his 2010 "win-a-trip" contest, the New York Times columnist ponders the potential future of a "Teach for the World" program. Kristof envisions a program that is both an important educational opportunity and a government-financed effort to "supplement an American public diplomacy outreach that has been eviscerated over the last few decades." After all, writes Kristof, "America would be a wiser country if we had more people who knew how to translate 'doorknob.' I would bet that those people who know how to say doorknob in Farsi almost invariably oppose a military strike on Iran."

  • E. J. Dionne on Smart vs. Stupid Debt   Scoffing at the "pathetic quality" of debate over the national debt, the Washington Post columnist proposes a plan that includes significant spending to help curb unemployment and stimulate growth. "Like it or not, government must grow in the coming decades because the private economy will not offer the same security it once did through employer-provided health and pension plans," Dionne argues.
  • David Broder on Wasteful Spending  Proving once again that the editorial page of The Washington Post doubles as a debating forum, Broder lauds the fiscal "discipline" of state governments while condemning the rampant spending at the federal level. Broder is particularly incensed by the "unimaginable (and indigestible) sum" of $9.8 trillion, the projected increase in the cumulative national debt over the next decade. "It means a lower future standard of living for Americans because of vastly increased debt," he laments.

  • Harold Meyerson on L.A.'s Success Story  In 2008, the citizens of Los Angeles voted to increase their own sales tax so the city could build an electric rail system by 2038. Now, they're asking for loans from Washington to get it done before 2020. Writing in The Washington Post, Meyerson argues that L.A.'s model--"a voter-mandated, job-generating, environmentally beneficial project in the nation's largest county that won't ultimately cost Washington money"--is one the entire country could learn from. "Without adding to the deficit," Meyerson writes, such an approach "could rebuild a crumbling nation."
  • The Fight Over Ground Zero Continues  An unsigned editorial in The New York Times excoriates developer Larry Silverstein for trying to shoehorn three new office buildings into the Port Authority's plans for the former site of the World Trade Center. "The last thing a battered downtown needs is a nest of empty office buildings," the editorial reads. "The Port Authority should not be obliged to provide what the market and Mr. Silverstein cannot."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.