Red Links, June 11, 2010

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Sarah in Righty-Tighty LandI decided it was time for another feature. Since The Economist is my one remaining subscription, which means it’s my newspaper, I should be more forthcoming and deliberate about my opinions toward it. I’ve read the weekly newspaper since March 1985, and here’s a record of my comments. So, here are this week’s leaders:

  • What’s Wrong with America’s Right

  • :

    Sarah in Righty-Tighty LandI decided it was time for another feature. Since The Economist is my one remaining subscription, which means it’s my newspaper, I should be more forthcoming and deliberate about my opinions toward it. I’ve read the weekly newspaper since March 1985, and here’s a record of my comments. So, here are this week’s leaders:

    • What’s Wrong with America’s Right

    • :

      Mr Obama deserves to be pegged back. This newspaper supported him in 2008 and backed his disappointing-but-necessary health-care plan. But he has done little to fix the deficit, shown a zeal for big government and all too often given the impression that capitalism is something unpleasant he found on the sole of his sneaker. America desperately needs a strong opposition. So it is sad to report that the American right is in a mess: fratricidal, increasingly extreme on many issues and woefully short of ideas, let alone solutions.

      All that about the GOP is spot on. But, President Obama, scraping “capitalism” off his sneakers? If anything, President Obama has been too deferential to the companies, like BP, that put him in the White House.

    • In Praise of Techno-Austerity

    • If the feature-obsessed technology industry can change its tune, perhaps there is a chance that governments—which have also tended to be inveterate believers in the idea that more is more—might also come to appreciate the merits of minimalism.

      Agreed.

    • A Cut Too Far?

    • A calm look at the numbers, then, suggests that the odds of a collective G20 blunder towards recovery-wrecking austerity this year are low. The real danger of the current embrace of austerity is not that it is reckless, but that it is thoughtless—missing an opportunity to make the policy changes that will help economies most in the future.

      First, most rich-country governments are being insufficiently bold about reforms, such as raising the statutory retirement age, which improve public finances in the medium term without denting demand now. Second, proponents of fiscal austerity are putting disproportionate weight on budget discipline as a solution to the rich world’s ills, underplaying the importance of structural, supply-side measures.

    • A Step Away from the Bomb

    • …valuable though it is, this week’s resolution can’t stop Iran crossing the nuclear threshold. That is true; but there is no way of stopping a country going nuclear if it is prepared to find enough cash and face down international censure. Even air strikes would only buy time—an uncertain gain at a huge cost. The best deterrence, therefore, is to raise the price of a bomb and deepen the disgrace. That is what this week’s sanctions were all about.

    • Not Dead Yet

    • The problem with…newspapers is that, although they do much that is excellent, they do little that is distinctive enough for people to pay for it. The Los Angeles Times’s foreign reporting is extremely good. But it is hard to argue that it is better than the stuff supplied by the New York Times or foreign papers—sources to which the residents of Los Angeles now have unfettered, largely free access via their laptops and iPhones. Similarly, it has never been clear why each major newspaper needs its own car reviewer: a Corolla is a Corolla, whether it is driven in Albuquerque or Atlanta. And by extension, it is not clear why presidential candidates or sport teams require huge journalistic entourages. Papers should concentrate on what they do best, which means, in many cases, local news and sport. If the rest is bought in from wire services or national outfits, readers are unlikely to complain—as long as there is enough competition between those larger providers to keep up standards (and thanks to the internet there probably is now). Specialisation generally means higher quality.

      And, yes, I’m still figuring out what to specialize in when I grow up.

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