5 Best Friday Columns

Democrats killed the center, Bill Gates wants to boost American energy innovation, and more

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  • David Brooks on How Democrats Killed Centrist America  Centrist America is weaker than ever, declares the New York Times columnist, who considers himself a centrist mix of Edmund Burke and Alexander Hamilton. "The center has been losing political power pretty much my entire career. But I confess that about 16 months ago I had some hope of a revival." Instead, "the Democrats have become the government party and the Republicans are the small government party. The stale, old debate is back with a fury."
  • Henry Louis Gates on African Involvement in the Slave Trade  Harvard professor Gates explains that the issue of reparations for slavery is more complicated than some like to think: "Advocates of reparations for [slaves' descendants] ... generally ignore this untidy problem of the significant role that Africans played in the trade, choosing to believe the romanticized version that our ancestors were all kidnapped unawares by evil white men." In fact, the slave trade was a pillar of many African kingdoms' economies. Gates sees in Obama an opportunity:
He is uniquely placed to publicly attribute responsibility and culpability where they truly belong, to white people and black people, on both sides of the Atlantic, complicit alike in one of the greatest evils in the history of civilization.
  • Paul Krugman Argues Hurting the Financial Industry Is a Good Thing  Don't worry too much about damaging the financial sector in the process of reform, says the economist and New York Times columnist. His argument is simple: America has been devoting far too large a share of our wealth and the nation's talent to the business of devising and peddling complex financial products, which have a demonstrated ability to blow up the economy.
  • Jonah Goldberg on Capitalism and Government  "The problem with socialism is socialism, because there are no socialists. Socialism is a system based upon an assumption about human nature that simply isn't true." Likewise, argues Goldberg in the National Review, "the problem with capitalism is capitalists. Some people will always abuse the system and take things too far." Free market proponents know this, and they don't object to the government's natural "role as referee. But few," he continues, "should want the ref to suit up and play the game." That, in a nutshell, is his problem with the Democratic approach to financial regulatory reform.
  • Bill Gates and Chad Holliday on Energy Innovation  The government needs to "invest more and be smarter" in the field of energy innovation and research, contend the respective chairmen of Microsoft and DuPont in The Washington Post. Energy isn't like electronics, and it can't just be left up to the private sector. They're banding together with leaders of Lockheed Martin, Xerox, Kleiner Perkins, GE, and Cummins to create the American Energy Innovationi Council."We need to rethink the scale and urgency of the energy endeavor," a matter vital "to our national prospect and security," they say.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.