5 Best Thursday Columns
On bringing investors to Haiti, how the iPad may soon 'rival the web,' and Republican secretaries of state supporting START
- Nicholas Kristof on Haiti Nearly a Year Later After a devastating January earthquake, Haiti is in nearly as poor shape as it was when aid first arrived, writes The New York Times columnist. Rubble needs to be cleared, more than a million people are still living in tents, and cholera has broken out from poor sanitation and "lack of potable water." Says Kristof: "Part of the problem is that the government, crippled by the quake, has done little." Another problem is that "aid groups created a parallel state" that diminishes the central authority of the government to make decisions. Foreign aid--now nearly half of Haiti's economy--is taking the nation on "a path to nowhere." What the country needs is to get its citizens back to work. The U.S. is helping by approving trade preferences that have already created 6,000 jobs. The country needs entrepreneurs along with more doctors and aid workers. Without outside investiment, Haiti's "brutal cycle of poverty" will continue.
- Republican Secretaries of State on Ratifying the START Treaty Citing the history of Republican presidents who have recognized the "crucial" fight to protect the nation from nuclear dangers, the secretaries of state--including Colin Powell and Henry Kissinger--of the past five GOP presidents urge the ratification of the stalled New START treaty. In The Washington Post, they describe the treaty as a "modest and appropriate" continuation of the previous incarnation of START that still provides the U.S. with a sufficient amount of warheads for "all missions." Although some have questioned the need for an arms control treaty with Russia given more pressing dangers, they write that the treaty matters "because Russia's cooperation will be needed if we are to make progress in rolling back the Iranian and North Korean programs." Russia's cooperation is also necessary to secure "loose nukes" throughout the world and to help improve the situation in Afghanistan. In conclusion, they urge Senators--particularly in their own party--to put aside domestic politics in the interest of national security and ratify the New START.
- Lisa P. Jackson on the Anniversary of the E.P.A. The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency takes to the pages of The Wall Street Journal in order to celebrate the creation of the agency forty years ago. Jackson reminds readers that the "EPA plays an essential role in our everyday lives. When you turn on the shower or make a cup of coffee, the water you use is protected from industrial pollution and untreated sewage." Your lunch is protected from pesticides. The anniversary of the EPA comes as recent elections strengthened the influence of groups who "threaten to roll back" the agencies efforts. Most of their concerns are economic. But the EPA's efforts in holding polluters accountable actually "thrive on ingenuity and entrepreneurship," Jackson writes, citing the time an executive told her that EPA standards would actually help create jobs for his company. Her conclusion: "In these politically charged times, we urge Congress and the American people to focus on results from common-sense policies, not inaccurate doomsday speculations."
- Joshua Green on Ending the Fed Numerous Tea Party-backed candidates won elections this fall by pledging to end the Federal Reserve. Could this really happen? The Atlantic senior editor, writing in The Boston Globe, is skeptical. "The Republican criticism of the Fed and of Bernanke-- himself a Republican, appointed by George W. Bush--seems grounded more in politics than in policy," writes Greene. "Nothing about quantitative easing was obviously objectionable to Republicans, at least in the past. Conservative luminaries like Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman have prescribed it to counteract similar conditions." One of the anti-Fed true believers, though, is Texas congressman Ron Paul, the "renegade libertarian" who wrote the bestseller End The Fed and is next in line to lead the House subcommittee overseeing the Fed. Paul has been in this position before in 2003 and 2005, when party leaders ignored his seniority and denied him the job. "One acid test," writes Green, "of whether the Republican Party is serious about trying to aggressively influence monetary policy and thwart QE2 is if it finally lets Paul loose on the chairmanship."
- John Gapper on Why the iPad (with iPad-only Publications) May Soon 'Rival the Web' The reaction to Richard Branson and Rupert Murdoch launching high-profile iPad-only publications has been mixed, but the Financial Times columnist believes tablets have the capacity to challenge the web. The two, he says, "are entrepreneurs with an admirable record of ignoring conventional wisdom, so it is worth watching when they do the same thing at once." Gapper notes that "a regular browser on a computer is good for skimming ('surfing') among many different news sources, but poor at immersing you in one," Tablets offer this immersive experience. On the device, "an edited, in-depth publication has a better chance of competing with the atomised, open-source information flow of the open web. That is what Sir Richard and Mr Murdoch have bet on--that a tablet restores the advantage of depth over breadth." Gapper doesn't think tablets will end up eliminating the web, or vice versa. "My bet is that the two will co-exist, just as new forms of media have always done with existing ones in the past."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.