5 Best Friday Columns

On the climate change "cold shoulder," why quitting Facebook is so hard, and if schools looked like American Idol

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  • Rupert Murdoch on Competitiveness in Schools  With over 2,000 dysfunctional public schools in America, President Obama was "absolutely right" when he declared that "we can't spend our way out of this problem," writes the News Corp CEO in The Wall Street Journal's op-ed section. Murdoch praised the recent effort by the Los Angeles Times to ensure transparency by ranking teachers on their efficiency and encouraged more movements toward "giving parents more choices for their kids." Even American Idol has tougher standards than the public school system, he figures, since the show is actually measured by performance. "And so long as we refuse to measure success by what our children are learning, we're going to have higher performance standards for pop stars than for public schools."

  • Ronald Browstein on the GOP's Resistance to Climate Change  "Republicans in this country are coalescing around a uniquely dismissive position on climate change," finds The National Journal senior editor. The opposition to cap-and-trade legislation has only hardened since 2005, when John McCain was able to attract some supporters of the proposal. Now, "virtually all of the serious 2010 GOP challengers have moved beyond opposing cap-and-trade to dismissing the scientific evidence that global warming is even occurring." This type of position isn't just espoused by Tea Partiers, it has also taken root among moderates. National Journal polled 21 GOP Senate challengers who had a "serious chance" of winning this fall and "19 have declared that the science of climate change is inconclusive or flat-out incorrect." The editor concludes: "It's difficult to identify another major political party in any democracy as thoroughly dismissive of climate science as is the GOP here."

  • Roger Cohen on the Fading Idea of a European Consciousness  The New York Times columnist noticed a rare display of European "nationalism" at golf's British-hosted Ryder Cup. While the chants of "Europe! Europe!" were shouted more just for the sake of beating the United States, Cohen finds that it's been a long time since the idea of a European consciousness earned such enthusiasm. "The European idea," he asserts, "the most compelling and transformative of the second half of the 20th century, has paled" and "the idealism that once prompted talk of a United States of Europe, propelled the creation of a single currency and banished war from the Continent has evaporated in an epidemic of small-mindedness." There needs to be a new "frank debate" with more imagination and less technocracy, he contends.

  • Meghan Daum on Quitting Facebook  Formerly a "conscientious objector when it came to Facebook," The Los Angeles Times columnist still hasn't quit the social networking site two years after signing up. Why? Because the growth of Facebook has made maintaining an account seem "less like an extracurricular activity than a required course." Participating in Facebook is akin to mowing ones grass: it's a civic duty, not to mention just plain decent. Notes Daum, "Joining up isn't just about being up to date; it's about being a responsible, modern, civilized person. For all its frivolities and dangers ... Facebook is almost a necessity. You're either on board or you're left behind."

  • William D. Cohan on Wall Street Risk's Addiction  There's a simple way to curb the excessive risk-taking on Wall Street, writes The New York Times columnist: make top executives at Wall Street firms put up their own assets as collateral."Not just their unexercised stock options or restricted stock," notes Cohan, "but every asset they have in their possession: from their cars to their fancy homes to their bulging bank accounts. This simple measure would yield a kind of personal accountability that slips through the cracks of sweeping legislation like the Dodd-Frank Act. Before you say it sounds crazy and unfeasible, consider this point from Cohan. "Had such a security existed at the time of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the net worth of the top 100 Lehman executives--no doubt totaling several billion dollars--would have been collected after liquidating everything they owned and paid to Lehman creditors, who under the current system will be lucky if they get back 10 cents on the dollar."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.