5 Best Friday Columns

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  • Henry Kissinger on a U.S.-China Cold War  In anticipation of the American-Chinese presidential summit, Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford, argues that a positive future is possible for the two powers, but must be achieved through cooperation, not a Cold War-style standoff. "Neither country will ever be able to dominate the other," he explains. "Conflict between them would exhaust their societies." Kissinger writes that most Chinese believe the United States is interested in containing and constricting China's growth; meanwhile, the U.S. feels threatened by China's military and economic expansion. He points out that "conflict is not inherent to a nation's rise," noting the U.S.'s conflict-free rise to global-power status in the 20th century. Chinese and American political strategies are virtual opposites, though both countries consider themselves exceptional. "Reconciling the two versions of exceptionalism," Kissinger writes, "is the deepest challenge of the Sino-American relationship."

  • Edward Glaeser on the Economic Value of Education  Writing in The Boston Globe, the Harvard economics professor lays out a challenge for the Republican House leaders: reconcile their fiscal ideals with the long-term impact of their decisions. When it comes to education, Glaeser says, a party grounded in self-determination can only embrace a quality education system, since the returns far outstrip the initial investment. Skimping on classroom financing results in a far greater drag on social services and local governments than it would to support a quality education early. Kindergarten, Glaeser says, exemplifies the significance of this concept, because what happens (or doesn't) in the classroom as early as ages four and five will influence a child's earning potential as an adult. Invest early and often, says Glaeser, and the country will be able to out-think its economic competitors. Continue to put short-term financial thinking before long-term goals, and the results will continue to weaken the country's economic fate.
  • The New York Times on Ending Illinois's Capital Punishment  A New York Times editorial urges Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to sign a piece of recently passed legislation that would end the state's death penalty. There has been a moratorium on capital punishment in Illinois since 2000, after the discovery of several wrongful executions that resulted from problematic trials and police torture eliciting false confessions. Though the state has since established some tighter regulations, such as a requirement that all interviews with suspects be recorded, "other vital reforms to clean up forensic lab abuses and stage-managed witness identifications were rejected." The editors argue that Quinn should renounce his support for "carefully and fairly" applied capital punishment, as "Illinois's own experience has shown why that is not possible."

  • Jonah Goldberg on Haiti, Harm, and Good  At National Review, Goldberg points out that despite an American outpouring of aid and goodwill, most of Haiti "pretty much looks exactly the way it did when dust and screams still filled the air" after last year's earthquake. Goldberg cites damning examples--a parking lot full of never-used trucks; Haitian fields of lettuce and mangoes, because sugar and rice crops would compete with America's own--to support his point that foreign aid to Haiti isn't helping nearly as much as people may think. "It is tempting to argue that benign neglect alone is the answer," Goldberg writes, "but benign neglect amidst such chaos, including a cholera epidemic, probably wouldn't be all that benign." Still, he says, "it's sure as hell clear that international aid has done nothing to make Haiti rich."

  • Farhad Manjoo on the Dreaded Two-Space  In an entertaining but carefully researched Slate essay, Manjoo inveighs against those typists who put two spaces between their sentences instead of one. The practice of two-spacing, writes Manjoo, "is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong." Two-spacing is a holdover from the days of typewriters, when technological restrictions forced the habit; today, it's just unnecessary, and ugly to boot. Meanwhile, one-spacing has the endorsement of the typography community, "the people who study and design the typewritten word." On the page, it's "simpler, cleaner, and more visually pleasing," writes Manjoo. And it "requires less work, which isn't nothing."

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