James Surowiecki in The New Yorker on Facebook's IPO Like most of the recent high-profile tech IPOs, Facebook's featured a dual-class share structure that gives more voting power to shareholders like Mark Zuckerberg than to those who bought the company's stock on Friday. Surowiecki writes, "Whereas the C.E.O.s of most public companies have to spend time kowtowing to investors, Zuckerberg and his peers are insisting on the right to say, 'Thanks for your money. Now shut up.' There's reason to be concerned at the spread of the dual-class structure." Surowiecki describes the forces that have required shareholders to accept these arrangements, and he notes that they can be good for companies that want to avoid shareholders short-sighted interests. "Public companies aren't going to disappear, but we are witnessing a significant shift in power from shareholders to entrepreneurs and managers, one that may make the stock market less central to American capitalism."
Michael Medved in The Daily Beast on competing for the popular vote Medved proposes a situation in which President Obama wins large majorities in several populous states giving him the popular vote by a large margin, whereas Romney's sweeps come in smaller states but he manages an electoral victory. We've faced this situation only once before and in that case, the popular vote was much closer than in Medved's imagined situation, so he predicts the various ways this would cause a huge crisis for Republicans. "[T]he best policy would be to compete fiercely in every major population center while recognizing that in this unique election, even popular votes that seem theoretically irrelevant may play a role in averting catastrophe."
Garry Kasparov in The Wall Street Journal on the U.S.-Russia alliance As Vladimir Putin reclaimed his role as Russia's president, the public resistance and crackdown spoke to the middle class's rejection of his lifetime rule. America's tepid response in the interest of maintaining a strategic relationship rang hollow, writes Kasparov. "Are Russians still supposed to act grateful that we no longer live under Brezhnev or Stalin? Or is this the Obama administration's way of telling Mr. Putin to carry on, that matters of human rights and democracy are safely off the table as long as NATO can use Russian territory for Afghanistan supply lines? The myth that Russia and the U.S. have a mutually useful strategic partnership has been promoted by the Americans for years, but the fiction is becoming harder to maintain."
Noah Feldman in Bloomberg View on the Mormon assimilation The difference four years has made in the evangelical embrace of Mitt Romney bespeaks a growing tolerance among other Christian denominations for the Mormon religion. Aside from Romney's political aspirations, this has interesting cultural consequences, writes Feldman. "If Mormons think of themselves as another Christian denomination, the risk of defection rises. The distinctive Mormon beliefs in a new scripture and in the possibility of joining the supernal realm for eternal life will come into jeopardy precisely because they mark differences with the Protestant mainstream." The model, Feldman writes, would be the rise of reform Judaism as Jews entered the German mainstream. "That wasn't in and of itself a bad thing. But for many, something was lost."
Roderick MacFarquhar in The New York Times on the Bo Xilai scandal "Few of China’s netizens are likely to believe that Bo Xilai, the Politburo member and party boss of the mega-city of Chongqing who was ousted in March on corruption charges, was an aberration." His collection of wealth along with power, and his princeling son's behavior make the rest of the party nervous, writes MacFarquhar. "In the months ahead, party leaders will use every propaganda tool to dissipate the damage inflicted on leadership unity, party discipline and national 'harmony' by the Bo debacle."