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  • Nicholas Kristof on Inequality  The New York Times columnist argues that economic inequality causes a kind of "melancholy of the soul" for society at large. He cites a new study by British researchers that says inequality breeds "high rates of violent crime, high narcotics use, high teenage birthrates and even high rates of heart disease":
The heart of their argument is that humans are social animals and that in highly unequal societies those at the bottom suffer from a range of pathologies. For example, a long-term study of British civil servants found that messengers, doormen and others with low status were much more likely to die of heart disease, suicide and some cancers and had substantially worse overall health.
  • David Ignatius on America's Military Investments  The Washington Post columnist worries that our military is spending too much on what it doesn't need and not enough on what it desperately needs:

What worries me is that even as the military looks forward, the brass is still clamoring to build the legacy systems - think aircraft-carrier battle groups - that will soon be vulnerable to the new weapons. It's as if the Pentagon were trying to be the old IBM, running big, clunky mainframes while trying to be an Apple-like innovator. We can't afford to do both.

  • Dave Barry on Why 2010 Sucked  The Miami Herald columnist ticks off a laundry list of unfortunate events. Here's a mere glimpse of what happened outside the U.S.:
North Korea continued to show why it is known as “the international equivalent of Charlie Sheen.” The entire nation of Greece went into foreclosure and had to move out; it is now living with relatives in Bulgaria. Iran continued to develop nuclear weapons, all the while insisting that they would be used only for peaceful scientific research, such as — to quote President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — “seeing what happens when you drop one on Israel.” Closer to home, the already strained relationship between the United States and Mexico reached a new low following the theft, by a Juarez-based drug cartel, of the Grand Canyon.
  • Greg Mankiw on the Bright Future of Bipartisanship The Harvard economist and former Bush adviser insists the president can accomplish things with Republicans in 2011. He focuses on deficit reduction, tax reform and, lastly, rhetoric:
Last month, when you struck your tax deal with Republican leaders, you said you were negotiating with “hostage takers.” In the future, please choose your metaphors more carefully. Republicans are not terrorists. They are not the enemy. Like you, they love their country, and they want what is best for the American people. They just have a different judgment about what that is. Let me propose a New Year’s resolution for you: Have a beer with a Republican at least once a week. The two of you won’t necessarily agree, but you might end up with a bit more respect for each other’s differences.
  • Robert Reich on the Dreary Future of Bipartisanship  The former secretary of labor under President Clinton argues that Republicans will push a far-right agenda that will gridlock Congress. By pushing for unattainable goals like a flat tax, cuts on Social Security and a repeal of the President's health care bill—nothing will get done:
Don't believe what you hear about bipartisanship, at least when it comes to who gets what. The only way we'll see more bipartisanship in 2011 will be if more Democrats join Republicans to further entrench power and privilege in America. But that's not the kind of bipartisanship we need.

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