Five Best Monday Columns

On privacy with Facebook and Google, intellectuals' arrogance about Qaddafi, and more

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Edward Lazear on Job Market Realities  Edward Lazear, chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers from 2006-2009, explains why it's hard to believe that the labor market is getting any better. "The fact is the jobs numbers that create so much anticipation from the business press and so many pundit pronouncements do not give a clear picture of the labor market's health," he writes at The Wall Street Journal. He clarifies that "the increase in job growth that occurred over the past two years results from a decline in the number of layoffs, not from increased hiring." In fact, "the number of hires is the same today as it was when we were shedding jobs at record rates." The hiring rate is still less than it was in 2006 and 2007 and, until it reaches that height--about 5.5 million hires per month--there won't have been a real healthy recovery. A higher rate of layoffs and quits is also indicative of "a fluid labor market, where workers and and firms constantly seek to produce better products and more efficient ways to produce them." Lazear insists that "we must create a climate in which investment is profitable, productivity is rising, and employers find it profitable to increase their hiring rate."

Ross Douthat on Why Huckabee Will Be Missed  New York Times Columnist Ross Douthat praises Huckabee's worldview, which "mixes cultural conservatism with economic populism; [is] tax-sensitive without being stridently anti-government, skeptical of Wall Street as well as Washington, and [is] as concerned about immigration, family breakdown and public morals as it is about the debt ceiling." Huckabee's downfall in 2008 was the fact that "among our leadership class, centrism invariably means some combination of big-business conservatism and social progressivism--the politics of pro-choice Republicans, hedge fund Democrats and Michael Bloomberg independents," even though his positions are more reflective of the American people's and his gubernatorial record was no less conservative than Mitt Romney's. But Huckabee's populist agenda, though he talked "about issues that the other Republican candidates wouldn't touch...was a grab bag of gimmicks and crank ideas." In the upcoming election, Douthat argues, we need a candidate who not only recognizes society problems, but has "ideas for what to do about them."

The Washington Post Editors on the Global Warming Imperative  The Washington Post editors point out that the recent statement from the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences confirming that climate change is real and that taxing carbon emissions is not news. "But it is newsworthy, sadly, because the Republican Party, and therefore the U.S. government, have moved so far from reality and responsibility in their approach to climate change." Denial of the NRC's findings, which have held true over time and various testing methods, shows that "climate change deniers are willfully ignorant, lost in wishful thinking, cynical, or some combination of the three." This attitude, they argue, "is dangerous" and every 2012 candidate should be quizzed not only on whether they agree with the findings of this report but, if they do, "what they propose to do about the rising seas, spreading deserts and intensifying storms that, absent a change in policy, loom on America's horizon."

L. Gordon Crovitz on Facebook and Google  "Facebook needs to be more careful in choosing its friends and enemies," urges L. Gordon Crovitz at The Wall Street Journal, referring to Facebook's recent smear campaign against Google saying the company infringed on users' privacy. "It's as if General Motors called for tougher regulation of Ford without stopping to think that any new rules would also apply to it." This dispute, Crovitz explains, "is about advertising dollars more than about privacy." It is also "a reminder that free services such as Facebook and Google come with a price. Consumers need to keep a truism in mind: If you're not paying for the product, then you're not the customer--you're the product being sold." That's why, he insists, because "people's expectation of privacy" is constantly being altered by the advancing social media market, it "would be a mistake for Congress to pass any of the proposed new laws setting privacy expectations into stone."

Steven Hayward on Recognizing Tyrants American Enterprise Institute Scholar Steven Hayward argues in the latest issue of National Review that the refusal of our "intellectual class" to classify Muammar Qaddafi as a tyrant is both inexcusable and "has had the consequence of enabling the policy incoherence of our political leaders." Political science scholars such as Rutgers's Benjamin Barber had "cozied up to Qaddafi" until "the tyrants' crimes became so conspicuous as to embarrass them." Hayward suggests that instead of calling Qaddafi "the longest-serving head of state in the region" and "a reformer," as Nicolas Sarkozy and Hillary Clinton both have, "we call tyrants and their regimes by their proper names--maybe even call them 'evil'?" He acknowledges that "that word raises hackles, but unlike so much of what we have heard of Qaddafi and his kind, it would have the virtue of being true."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.