Five Best Wednesday Columns
Michael Bloomberg on gun control, Matt Miller on gun buyback programs, Lydia DePillis on Instagram, Chris McDermott on the Keystone XL pipeline, and Scott A. Snyder on South Korea's first female president.
Michael Bloomberg in USA Today on gun control Michael Bloomberg has always been vocally supportive of stricter gun control laws, especially since the Newtown shootings. And in this morning's USA Today, he outlines six steps for curbing gun violence, starting with a prohibition on manufacturing and selling assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips. Some other recommendations include fixing the background check process, bumping gun up trafficking to felony status, and appointing a new director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. "Taken together, these and other steps would make our communities—including our schools, malls and movie theaters—safer," Bloomberg writes. "And all are consistent with the Second Amendment."
Matt Miller in The Washington Post on gun buyback programs One suggestion Bloomberg doesn't mention is setting up gun buyback programs, the subject of Matt Miller's latest column in The Washington Post. Not only would such an effort reduce the number of guns on our streets—it would also help the country financially, Miller argues. Citing successful programs in Oakland, Australia, and Los Angeles, Miller writes, "Imagine a $100 billion, one-time program aimed at buying back 200 million firearms at $500 a pop. We issue the payments in prepaid credit cards that expire in three months (good thinking, Los Angeles!) to be sure the money is spent fast. Presto! So long as the federal money is borrowed, we get an immediate boost to demand, jobs and growth."
Lydia DePillis in The New Republic on Instagram By changing their terms of service, photo-sharing app Instagram granted itself the right to place users' photos in ads without compensation or permission. Casual users aren't the only ones upset by the new rules—Instagram also alienated its base of professional, high caliber photographers, including Richard Koci Hernandez. "While Instagram will be the poorer for those irate artists and activist celebs who do take their talents elsewhere, the outrage will likely die down—like it did after Facebook created the initially unpopular Newsfeed—and Instagram's user base will continue to balloon," writes Lydia DePillis.
Chris McDermott in Bloomberg View on Canada's oil sands Canada withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol this year. The move may have dismayed environmentalists, but it should please oil companies that want unfettered access to the vast oil sands in Alberta. And it could mean that America will begin importing more oil from Canada through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. "Time will tell whether Obama finally approves the Keystone XL pipeline," writes Chris McDermott. "Regardless of his decision, opposition to oil-sands development is unlikely to fade."
Scott A. Snyder in The Diplomat on South Korea's presidential election South Koreans could soon elect their first female president in Saenuri party member Park Geun-hye. Sizing up her chances of beating Democratic Unity Party challenger Moon Jae-in, Scott A. Snyder argues that the race is still too close to call. Park will have to unify the conservative base, make headway amongst Seoul voters, and put together a competitive turnout machine if she wants to win. "With the latest polls showing Park with a narrow half-a-percentage-point lead over Moon," Snyder writes, "many observers say that this may be one of the closest presidential elections in South Korean history."