Five Best Thursday Columns

On underestimating Steve Jobs, oversimplifying Libya, and a fix for Social Security

This article is from the archive of our partner .
  • Scott Walker on the Budget Battle in Wisconsin  Wisconsin Governor Walker takes to the pages of the Wall Street Journal today to explain his side of the budget fight, targeting collective bargaining and defending his proposed reductions in worker's benefits. "While it might be a bold political move, the changes are modest," he says, arguing that the levels that workers would be asked to contribute to their pension and health-insurance plan would be comparable to rates in other States. Walker makes a compelling case for his budget, and his appeals are certainly bolstered by some choice personal anecdotes--like the amount his brother and sister-in-law pay for insurance and 401(k) plans. His brother, he says, thinks "most workers in Wisconsin would love a deal like the one we are proposing."  While the protesters in the Capital "have every right to be heard," he says "their voices cannot drown out the voices of the countless taxpayers who want us to balance our budgets."
  • Fred Kaplan on the Questions We Need to Ask Regarding Libya  It may seem like Obama is "dithering" in regards to Libya, Kaplan says today in Slate--but he's not. He just might actually be exercising caution. "A no-fly zone is no small matter," Kaplan says, and there are a lot of questions we need to ask ourselves first: "What is the desired goal of this action? Is it to pressure Qaddafi to stand down? Is it to provide air cover to the rebels, so they can fight Qaddafi's ground forces on more equal footing? Whatever the goal, if the no-fly zone doesn't get us there, should we try other means? And if not, why not?" Then, too, when it comes to arming the rebels, we need to figure out who these rebels are, and how much of a chance there is of the situation turning sour like in Afghanistan, when the CIA armed the mujahideen. "If they do overthrow Qaddafi with our help, will they also want--or require--our help in setting up a political system or a civil society? Doubtful. Whose help will they attract? That's a worry."
  • Eric Jackson on Underestimating Steve Jobs and Apple  "Apple’s stock has been underpriced," Jackson, a hedge-fund manager and Apple investor, argues, because of a widespread--and potentially incorrect--belief in Steve Jobs' as an "irreplaceable shaman.: Asks Jackson: "Why is it assumed that Apple doesn’t have a succession plan, though?" He points out that "given his attention to detail...I would assume Jobs has the CEO spot, as well as all other key management positions at Apple, mapped out for the next decade just in case something ever happened to him." Because of our fascination with Jobs, there is a lot of talent at Apple that often goes overlooked, people like "[Tim] Cook, Jonathan Ive, Philip Schiller, Scott Forstall, Ron Johnson and Peter Oppenheimer." Jackson argues that Jobs's "final act as leader of Apple, whenever that may be, is likely to be an unexpectedly masterful succession plan, not a killer app."
  • Sasha Abramsky on Obama and the Union Battle  At Salon today, Nation writer Sasha Abramsky urges President Obama to use his attention-getting skills to support the unions in Wisconsin. Abramsky reminds us of FDR's relentless use of the bully pulpit to successfully garner support for union rights. He acknowledges that Obama seems to be avoiding partisan leanings at all costs, assumptively as an effort not to lose votes for his reelection, but argues that sometimes a president needs to get partisan. "Today, three quarters of a century after FDR rallied the nation to back his New Deal, a liberal president, with a background in community organizing, is standing largely silent as the single biggest rollback of American workers’ rights in modern times unfolds," he writes. "Despite all the 'working man' pageantry of the Obama inauguration, despite all the earnest, sonorous, emphasis on reclaiming the country for the hard scrabble men and women who built America, there’s now a real risk that Obama will end up as the president who passively presided over the utter eclipse of organized labor."
  • Louis Woodhill on Fixing Social Security Through Growth  Engineer and Software Entrepreneur Louis Woodhill offers his take on how to solve Social Security's problems. "Social Security needs more substantial economic growth--not tax hikes, benefit cuts or increases in the retirement age," he argues. The key to making "all of the financial problems of Social Security disappear, with no tax increases and no changes in benefits," he writes, is for the anual real GDP growth rate to get to 3.5 percent. "This also happens to be about the minimum required to get the U.S. back to full employment, and create the experience of 'prosperity' for average Americans." A "growth spurt" of job creation resulting in "full employment" is what Social Security needs to get back on track. He offers a word of advice to Republican candidates: "focus ... efforts on producing at least 3.5 economic growth, and not falling into Obama's trap by advocating Social Security benefit reductions."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.