5 Best Wednesday Columns

Jonah Goldberg on the welfare state, Arianna Huffington on corporate tax havens, and more

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  • Arianna Huffington on Corporate Tax Havens With a tone of outrage, the editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post rails against offshore tax havens that allow corporations to "cheat the public out of tens of billions of dollars a year by using offshore tax havens." After running through a rogues gallery of past offenders ("This kind of sun-kissed thievery is nothing new," she notes), Huffington declares that "up until now, the story has been a familiar narrative of Two Americas, with one set of rules for those who can afford to hire a fleet of K Street lobbyists and a different set for everybody else. It's time to give this infuriating tale a different -- and far more just and satisfying -- ending."
  • David Ignatius on Lessons from the Flotilla  "Governments make mistakes," states Ignatius. "But if they're smart, they learn from them." With an international controversy brewing around the weekend's high-seas raid, Israel has been handed such an opportunity to learn. Poring over the problems facing Israel's blockade of Gaza and the political difficulties posed by its commando operation--particularly in dealing with both Turkey and the U.N.--Ignatius proposes a novel solution. "Israel needs to embrace the paradox: Sometimes the best way to manage an intractable problem is to internationalize it."
  • Jonah Goldberg on a Welfare-State Compromise  At National Review, Goldberg takes a step back from the conversation about government entitlements and offers a mild indictment of both sides. "When it comes to the welfare state, liberals want more, conservatives want less," Goldberg writes. "It seems that nobody ever talks about 'enough.'" Yet there is talk in some quarters of a third way, a welfare state that attends to the "truly needy" but eliminates waste at every other level. "What would an acceptable safety net look like? Who should be taken care of by taxpayers and for how long?" Goldberg asks. "The challenge for both liberals and conservatives is simply to define how much distribution is 'enough.'"

  • Edward Alden on Defining 'Border Security'  In a column for The Wall Street Journal, Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, declares that the U.S. needs to arrive at a single coherent definition of "border security," which he calls "the most overused—and least understood—concept in the struggle over what to do about our broken immigration system." How is "security" measured? Do we understand that when one set of negative externalities vanishes, another usually pops up somewhere else? What about the "policies that affect border security [that] are not carried out on the border"? Until we have an honest, informed discussion on these topics, Alden says, "badly needed immigration legislation will forever be hostage to an elusive goal."
  • Robert B. Reich on Unemployed Entrepreneurs  With unemployment at a shockingly high rate, the New York Times op-ed contributor comments on the fact that last year the number of business start-ups reached their highest level in 14 years. However, he says, don't be fooled by the idea that an influx of new businesses necessarily equates to an upturn in the economy. It's more the case that the unemployed have nowhere else to turn except themselves for work. "Booted off company payrolls, millions of Americans had no choice but to try selling themselves. Another term for 'entrepreneur' is 'self-employed.'" Using an example of a laid-off worker who was brought back to his company to work on special projects via a job agency, he says, "The nation’s official rate of unemployment does not include George, nor anyone in this new wave of involuntary entrepreneurship. Yet to think of them as the innovative owners of startup businesses misses one of the most significant changes to have occurred in the American work force in many decades."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.