5 Best Friday Columns

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  • Scot Lehigh on the Necessity of Raising Taxes  In a Boston Globe column, Lehigh uses a recent New York Times article by Republican pollster Whit Ayres as a springboard to discuss whether the ballooning federal deficit is a spending or a revenue problem. He concludes that, if maintained, the Bush tax cuts will be responsible for fifty-four percent of the deficit by 2014, and that in response there really is little choice but to raise taxes."It's obvious, then, that our long-term fiscal plight hasn't been caused simply on the spending side," he writes. "... Further, when the economy recovers enough to begin serious deficit-cutting efforts, any realistic solution will require both spending reductions and revenue increases."
  • Peggy Noonan on the Timelessness of Information Overload  While most consider information overload a uniquely 21st-century characteristic, The Wall Street Journal columnist asserts that civilizations since the Romans have been grappling with obsessive connectedness. Riffing on a book by William Powers called Hamlet's Blackberry, she describes how constant letter writing kept the Romans on edge as they waited for the latest mail boats from Egypt to arrive. With historical perspective in mind, Noonan entreats her readers to thrive on self-sufficiency and autonomy and to "step back, or aside. Think what you think, not what they think. Everyone is trying to push. Don't be pushed."
  • Stephen Budiansky on The Local Food Paradox  Writing in The New York Times, Budiansky bemoans the current state of the local food movement. What began as a noble attempt to eat local, fresh and in-season is turning into "one of those self-indulgent--and self-defeating--do-gooder dogmas." Those who demonize industrial agriculture are missing the point of eating locally. "Home preparation and storage," writes Budiansky, "account for 32 percent of all energy use in our food system, the largest component by far." For all the talk about "food miles," the real environmental damage comes when we put our food in the refrigerator.
  • Brian Wilson on Scotland's Disgrace  Wilson, a former member of UK parliament, notes in The Wall Street Journal that Scotland's decision a year ago today to release Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Megrahi remains a "disgrace." Letting Megrahi return to Libya to die "cruelly taunts the bereaved of Lockerbie and outrages decent opinion within the United States, where most of his 270 victims came from." It was also a huge mistake: "Through one ill-judged political decision, the mass murderer had been turned into a hero" The fact Megrahi is still alive just makes things worse, since it is "a contradiction of everything that was asserted about his medical condition a year ago." Wilson says releasing Megrahi was "a political stunt" driven by "a Nationalist administration [that] wanted to establish a distinctive Scottish identity in international affairs."
  • Aaron David Miller on Barack Obama's Missed Moment  In the comprehensive historical comparison op-ed to end all historical comparison op-eds, Aaron David Miller contends in the Los Angeles Times that Barack Obama has missed his chance to have his presidency rank among the likes of Washington, Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt. Miller argues that while Obama arrived during a time of strife, much like these other presidents, he's been limited by his "intuitive capacity (or lack of it) to read the nation's mood." His perceived aloofness is a problem in that "great transformers wrap their actions in values and ideals that, while bold, are also familiar and consistent with those of the nation's story." This is something Obama fails to convey. It may very well be that "Obama's problem is his uniqueness."

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