Five Best Monday Columns

On "eating the future," questioning Wall Street, and refusing to accept decline

This article is from the archive of our partner .
  • Felix Salmon on the Misleading Health of Wall Street  In yet another story about the increasing divide between the financial sector and the rest of America, Salmon argues that success on Wall Street can no longer be viewed as a barometer of the economy at large. While the Dow broke 12,000 points last week for the first time since the 2008, "a glance at the high unemployment rate or the low labor-market participation rate will show" that it's not paying off elsewhere. Tat's because stock market dynamos, companies like Google and Apple "don't pay dividends or employ many Americans," while smaller start-ups "in which people most want to invest, technology stars like Facebook and Twitter, are managing to avoid the public markets entirely by raising" money "privately." We're all left out of this: "to invest in younger, smaller companies, you increasingly need to be a member of the ultra-rich elite." Thus, "stock markets, once the bedrock of American capitalism, are slowly becoming a noisy sideshow that churns out increasingly meager returns."
  • Joseph Nye on Why American Power Might Not Be on the Wane Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Nye isn't convinced that the United States is on the way to ceding its place to China just yet. China will probably give it "a run for its money," but not much more than that, at least for the first half of the new century. The global situation faced by the United States today cannot necessarily be compared to the declining empires of the past, either, because "American power is based on alliances rather than colonies, and it is associated with an ideology that is flexible and to which America can return even after it has overextended itself." American needs to embrace its role as a leader in the "information age," rather than "succumb to self-fulfilling prophecies of inevitable decline," he says.
  • Paul Krugman on the GOP's Budget Crisis  The economics professor and Nobel Prize winner addresses the GOP's predatory budget dilemma in The New York Times. On the one hand, Krugman writes, the GOP says the November elections were a mandate to cut spending and have promised to slash $100 billion from the budget. On the other, a recent Pew Research Poll shows that Americans really don't want budget cuts, giving the GOP two choices: to dial back its promises and sync policy with citizen priorities or push through no matter the consequences. The GOP is opting for the latter, pursuing its $100 billion goal come hell or high water. "Uncharacteristically, they failed to accompany the release with a catchy slogan," Krugman notes. "So I'd like to propose one: Eat the Future." The totalitarian approach is likely to result in "a population damaged by childhood malnutrition, an increased chance of terrorist attacks, a revenue system undermined by widespread tax evasion."
  • Glenn Greenwald on Journalism's Failure  Writing for Salon, blogger Glenn Greenwald parries media critics who say CNN's Anderson Cooper was out of line when characterizing some of Mubarak's statements as "lies." Says Greenwald: "The very idea that a journalist is engaged in 'opinion-making' or is 'taking sides' by calling a lie a 'lie' is ludicrous; the only 'side' such a journalist is taking is with facts, with the truth. It's when a journalist fails to identify a false statement as such that they are 'taking sides'--they're siding with those in power by deceitfully depicting their demonstrably false statements as something other than lies" he argues. Greenwald also notes that what's remarkable about Cooper's unwavering statement is that it was about Mubarak, a treasured U.S. ally as opposed to a minor power within the United States' political structure. Greenwald says its boldness highlights just how little we hold our own government accountable and shows a warped reasoning that is "one of the prime diseases plaguing establishment political journalism in the U.S."
  • Ian Birrell on Refusing to Aid Corrupt Dictators Ian Birrell points out in the Guardian that, while most Egyptians are poor, the recently ousted leader and his family possessed most of the country's wealth and, not unlike other dictators, found safe havens for their stolen riches in British banks and property. "Our standard response to these tales of grand larceny is to shrug our shoulders and deplore corruption in the developing world," writes Birrell. "But as the big men steal and their people suffer, we are aiding and abetting their crimes. So instead of just applauding Egypt's protesters, we should take responsibility for our own contribution to their poverty and unemployment. This would do far more to help the developing world than our obsession with aid." A crackdown on bribery is in order, he proposes, noting that "the government has just delayed a new anti-bribery law for the second time, giving into the business lobby's squeals." Birrell writes that by aiding corrupt rulers, Britain and the rest of the West are playing "a key role in keeping nations impoverished." The stolen money must be frozen and returned to the people to whom it belongs. "Only then would our support for the protesters in Tahrir Square be more than platitudes."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.