Alex Brill and James Glassman in The Wall Street Journal on G-20 membership Brill and Glassman argue that because the membership criteria was so unclear at the founding of the G-20, which meets this week in Mexico, the organization has had a crisis of legitimacy. "Many observers have noted that the lack of membership criteria has diminished international trust in the G-20's decisions and activities. The G-20 needs clear admission standards, and in a study sponsored by the National Taxpayers Union, we propose a set of seven criteria that correspond to the group's stated policy objectives." Those standards, which include economic size and commitment to the rule of law, would remove members like Argentina and boost non-members like Switzerland into its ranks.
Joe Nocera in The New York Times on city budgets Nocera highlights a stand-off in the Rhode Island legislature over a proposed property tax increase in the city of Woonsocket. The city's representatives blocked the measure, even though the state may now appoint a receiver, unbeholden to voters, to get the city's struggling finances in order. One of those representatives is on the national board of American Legislative Exchange Council (or, ALEC). "[I]n a democracy, the decision of what -- and whether -- to cut should rest with elected officials who are responsible to voters, not to an unelected receiver using bankruptcy law to unilaterally make cuts. That may be the ALEC solution, but it shouldn't be ours."