Five Best Wednesday Columns

Ezra Klein on Romney's taxes, Jamie Stiehm on Showtime's Homeland, Scot Lehigh on young voters, William Pesek on Myanmar, and Arthur Herman on military cuts.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Ezra Klein in The Washington Post on Romney's tax rate Mitt Romney revealed yesterday that he's effectively taxed at 15 percent, a rate lower than many middle class Americans pay largely because his income is derived from capital gains. "To be fair to Mitt Romney, it's not his fault that he pays a 15 percent tax rate ... But if I were a rich investor paying 15 percent every year, I would be a bit peeved at Romney for running for president in the first place. We had a good thing going, man!" Klein says. Klein notes that Romney is just following the laws that are in place, but focus on his taxes will draw more attention to a system that gets less progressive as you move to higher incomes. Klein notes that there are good reasons for a capital gains rate that is separate and lower than the income tax, but there are also arguments against it, and those may win out precisely because of Romney's candidacy.

Jamie Stiehm in The New York Times on Homeland and bipolar disorder In the hit show Homeland, Claire Danes depicts a C.I.A. agent struggling with bipolar disorder, a performance that won her the Golden Globe for best actress in a TV drama. "I feel the show's creators, writers and producers, and Ms. Danes, have done us all a public service: perhaps, with the show's glowing reception, Americans can finally talk openly about bipolar disorder," writes Stiehm, a journalist who suffers from the disorder herself. Stiehm's sister is a writer for the show, and Stiehm describes how her sister draws on her account of a manic episode she suffered to write one for Danes. She describes the similarities between the fictional and the real episodes, noting that they are hard to watch from the outside but she's received support in the wake of her own."How rare to see a sparkling and spirited representation of what it's actually like to walk through life with bipolar disorder."

Scot Lehigh in The Boston Globe on trends among the voting youth Presidential campaigns often predict trends, as when Ronald Reagan's candidacy revealed a younger generation's emerging conservatism. "Trends aren't yet as pronounced in Campaign 2012, but a few weeks on the trail have highlighted some interested things," writes Lehigh. The first is that younger voters see gay marriage as not just one of many issues, but a central one, as witnessed in polls and in the confrontations between Rick Santorum and young voters at several New Hampshire events. Meanwhile, enthusiasm for Ron Paul's candidacy might reveal younger voters' worry about the deficit and the state of entitlement programs once they come of age. "[I]f assertive enough, [younger voters] might even promote two healthy trends in this country: Expanding equality and a sense of intergenerational responsibility."

William Pesek in Bloomberg View on Myanmar and North Korea Myanmar President Thein Sein's moves toward an open society have won him international friends. "Among the many tantalizing questions surrounding Myanmar’s flirtation with democracy is this: Might Kim Jong Un be enticed to try something similar in North Korea?" asks Pesek. He admits to major differences between the two countries, but says the factors that pressured Myanmar, like the Arab Spring, aren't foreign to North Korea. Meanwhile, Myanmar's decreasing economic ties to North Korea and China's impatience with its ally could also move Kim Jong Un toward openness. "Watching events unfold in Myanmar, Kim may just be having radical thoughts. If he is, the world and North Korea would be a better place."

Arthur Herman in The Wall Street Journal on using military budget cuts for good President Obama's drawdown has the Pentagon looking to make significant budget savings. "There's a lot to deplore about President Obama's proposed military drawdown, but here's a possible silver lining: It may finally force the Pentagon to stop buying weapons and equipment in the wasteful way it has since the 1960s," writes Herman. Herman focuses on a military weapons procurement system implemented during the Cold War, explaining how several bureaucratic steps raise the price of new weapons. He notes that Robert Gates overrode the system to get tanks to troops in Iraq in a timely manner. With new technologies like robotics, we can use the budget cuts as an excuse to rethink the entire procurement system, and Herman offers suggestions for how to do it.

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