- Steven Pearlstein on Davos and the Limits of Globalization The annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos this week prompts The Washington Post columnist to reflect on the failures of globalization. Pearlstein acknowledges the new global economy "has enhanced the wealth and stature of the financial, technological and philanthropic elite that have turned Davos into their playground." For much of the rest of the world though, the new global economy has been a "mixed bag" and "something of a disappointment." The emerging "tripartite global economy, with growth in the developing countries of Asia running at more than 7 percent, growth in Japan and most of Europe remaining painfully sluggish at below 2 percent, and with the United States and much of the Americas falling somewhere in between" sounds good in theory, but the threat of inflation, lack of floating exchange rates, and decline in domestic investments make these projections seem "highly unstable" and unpredictable. "Yes, we have globalization," concludes Pearlstein. "What we don't have yet is a global economy or the institutional infrastructure to sustain it."
- Jonathan Bernstein on Filibuster Reform The New Republic blogger is no fan of the Senate's current filibuster rules, but says recent efforts to resurrect the live filibuster are misguided, and will only make the upper chamber more inefficient. "It’s just wrong to equate intensity with a willingness to stand on the Senate floor and talk indefinitely," he explains. "To the minority, this is an opportunity, albeit a difficult one, but not an overwhelming hardship. Senators, after all, like talking, especially if it gets them in the news." In the wake of the Merkley-Udall-Harkin reform proposal going down earlier in the week, Bernstein believes it's time for reformers to go back to the drawing board and ditch the insistence on a live filibuster. "The goal should be to find something smarter—a plan that will actually work to accommodate majority interests, minority intensity, and, in my view, majority intensity, too," Bernstein argues. "Live, talking filibusters don’t have anything to do with those goals. Nostalgia for Jimmy Stewart has its place, but Senate reform isn’t it."
- Peter Schuck on Immigration Reform Writing in the Los Angeles Times, the NYU law professor argues the sluggish economy has put the 112th Congress in a unique position to enact sweeping immigration reform. Schuck cites the overall decline in illegal immigration since 2007, enhanced border security enforcement, and efforts at the state level to step up the enforcement of existing policies as the main reasons a compromise suddenly looks possible in Washington. While "these developments cannot stem the flow of desperate foreign workers altogether," Schuck says "they can allay some of the public anxiety about being overwhelmed by a flood." With that in mind, he cautions that "any grand bargain on immigration reform must appeal to the major constituencies: state governments, employers, unions, amnesty advocates, growers and the general public."
- Joanna Weis on 'Skins' and Teens The Boston Globe columnist believes the wild teens on MTV's Skins have more in common with ambitious high schoolers on the Ivy League fast track than one might expect. Both groups are being let down by the adults in their lives. On Skins, the adults are "buffoons, malevolent figures, or absent altogether." In the world of prep schools, teens "are so browbeat by ambitious parents and fearmongering guidance counselors that they load up on extracurricular activities, do homework deep into the night, and wind up exhausted and depressed." It's an insidious trend that helps explains why young audiences respond to glossy teen soap operas. "Teens everywhere are bombarded with concern about the future: the soaring cost of college, the state of the economy, the fear that, politics and demographics being what they are, they’ll lack both opportunity and an ample safety net...But they share one universal, authentic idea: The source of all their trouble is adults."
- Vicki Woods on Philanthropy and the UK Why is charitable giving so much lower in the UK than in the United States? Telegraph columnist Vicki Woods blames the UK's tax code, which doesn't allow for a deduction on charitable donations. In the United States, deductions make it possible for the wealthy to "pick and choose the things they liked to throw [charitable donations] at." The English government is attempting to correct this imbalance by forcing investment banks to disclose their charitable contributions, but Woods says such a policy will have little effect. How, she wonders, does the coalition government expect to "persuade bankers to chuck their bonuses towards the Tate if they don't give them tax breaks"?
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Ray Gustini is the author of Lucky Town, a forthcoming book about sports in Washington, D.C. He is a former staff writer for The Atlantic Wire.