5 Best Tuesday Columns

Anne Applebaum on Britain's Tea Party, Kofi Annan on Africa's World-Cup opportunity, and more

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  • Bethany McLean on Credit-Crisis Guilt  In a guest turn at The New York Times, McLean, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, points out that while Goldman Sachs deserves the drubbing it's taken, every party involved in the current SEC case comes in for its share of culpability--and none more so than the government institutions that were supposed to act as a check on Wall Street. "The Federal Reserve... did next to nothing, thereby putting us at risk as both consumers and taxpayers," McLean writes. "And it’s Congress that has been either unwilling or unable to put in place rules that have a shot at making things better." McLean argues that "it’s dishonest and ultimately dangerous to pretend that Goldman is the only bad actor."

  • Kofi Annan on Africa's World-Cup Opportunity  "Sport is far more than just a game," declares Annan, the former United Nations secretary-general, in a column at The Guardian. "We have seen time and again how sport helps overcome the most deep-rooted conflicts and tensions." Annan hopes that the 2010 World Cup, which begins in less than two months, will give African nations in which "democracy and human rights have taken root, governance has improved, civil society has blossomed" a chance to showcase their advances. "People will be surprised by Africa's remarkable progress and good spirits," Annan predicts, "and hopefully, its football teams."

  • Jonah Goldberg on Arizona's Immigration Law  The Los Angeles Times columnist throws his support behind the controversial law, which he finds unsettling but necessary in light of "Washington's inability to take illegal immigration seriously." As a result, necessity trumps possible future civil rights violations in Goldberg's mind. "There are many government functions that are unappealing to one extent or another," he declares. "That is not in itself an argument against them. The Patriot Act was ugly -- and necessary."

  • Anne Applebaum on Britain's Tea Party  A week before the U.K. elections, Applebaum profiles Nick Clegg, the third party candidate who could become "the beneficiary of the biggest revolution among British voters in decades." The Liberal Democratic Party candidate's growing support could result in a coalition government with dire consequences for Britain's system of government. "The Lib Dems could form a coalition with either party, but Clegg has said that his price will be a new British voting system. This would mean, for the British, an unthinkable, revolutionary change." Applebaum concludes Clegg "is perfectly happy to vote for the end of politics as we know it. The faster the better, please."
  • Robert Samuelson on Financial Reform's Big Unknowns Think financial regulatory reform will bring an end to future economic crises? "History counsels caution," warns Robert Samuelson, surveying the unintended consequences of past regulatory legislation. The Washington Post columnist points out that the reforms of the 1990s are responsible for the shadow banking system that led to the crash, while reminding readers that the occasional panic is not only inevitable but often desirable. Government regulation should not lull investors into a false sense of security; what if the next panic emerges from runaway federal debt? "The irony would be clear," muses Samuelson. "While preaching financial reform, the White House and Congress fomented the next crisis by sanctioning long-term budget deficits."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.