5 Best Tuesday Columns

On how not to fight colds, the "me-time" generation, and the case for wasteful spending

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  • Jonathan Cohn on the Case For Wasteful Spending  Government waste draws a lot of criticism, but The New Republic columnist believes excessive spending in the only way to guarantee funds will go to the people who need them. Take for example the Recovery Act, recently declared "virtually free of waste, fraud, and abuse." Cohn isn't sure this is a good thing. "Efficiency isn't the Recovery Act's primary purpose," he points out: the point is to spend money quickly and "[revive] the economy." Or, "to put it another way, a stimulus that threw a little more money away might have created more jobs."
  • Terence Blacker on the Me-Time Generation  Parsing the latest statistics about his countrymen, Blacker, a columnist for the U.K.'s The Independent, draws revealing conclusions about society-at-large."We kid ourselves that there is greater pressure from our work lives than ever before," he observes."Instead, new technology allowed the world of work to leak corrosively into the fabric of our private lives. Or, rather, jobs have come to represent not just a way of earning a living, but an expression of worth and self." Since we are constantly connected to work, relationships and home through technology, we end up spending more time than ever becoming more inwardly focused. "It is not more me-time that is needed, but rather less," he concludes.

  • William McGurn on Speaking Up for DC Schools  Since mayor Adrian Fenty lost his reelection bid, the fate of the DC school system and its chancellor Michelle Rhee have been in limbo. And, the columnist concludes, if the president does not speak up for the future of DC school reform, he may soon be one of the few recent presidents to have "left Washington's children with fewer chances for a good school than when he started." It's time for Obama to use the bully pulpit to enact much needed reform in the capital city, McGurn argues, especially now that "debate over education is now coming to a head."

  • Jennifer Ackerman on How Not to Fight Colds  "We all know people who seem never to catch one," writes The New York Times contributor. "What's their secret?" Whatever it is, it's not in those little pills and supplements promising to "boost" immune systems, she says. Aside from the fact that these products "do no such thing," if they did, they'd likely be "counterproductive": cold symptoms are not in fact caused by the cold virus, but by our body's response to it, and "susceptibility to cold symptoms is not a sign of a weakened immune system, but quite the opposite." In other words, trying to boost your immune system "could aggravate the symptoms by amplifying the very inflammatory agents that cause them." So what should you do? "No one knows which immune agents--other than antibodies," she continues, "bolster protection against infection by cold viruses." But on the bright side, "getting a cold may be a positive sign that your biochemical defenses are working normally."

  • Michael Auslin on Turkey and Japan at the Crossroads  Elections this month in Turkey and Japan are likely to determine the political direction of these two ancient societies for years to comes, writes the National Review columnist. While Turkey and Japan couldn't be more different on the surface, both are cultures that managed to "shake off the fetters of tradition and radically remake their political, economic, and social systems in the late 19th and early 20th centuries." What these countries do in these elections--Turkey prime minister Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a referendum that would "allow the Islamist party's leader to increase the number of judges on Turkey's most important courts and control the military" and Japan is struggling with recession and deflation--will impact their future. "Should one bookend of Asia turn away from liberal norms while the other fails to reform its stagnant economy," writes Auslin, "the democratic model will suffer."

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