New York Times Opinion Page
With the year end approaching, Frank Rich waxes nostalgic over things we've lost... including the American dream of economic mobility.
It’s a measure of how rapidly our economic order has shifted that nearly a quarter of the 400 wealthiest people in America on this year’s Forbes list make their fortunes from financial services, more than three times as many as in the first Forbes 400 in 1982. Many of America’s best young minds now invent derivatives, not Disneylands, because that’s where the action has been, and still is, two years after the crash. In 2010, our system incentivizes high-stakes gambling — “this business of securitizing things that didn’t even exist in the first place,” as Calvin Trillin memorably wrote last year — rather than the rebooting and rebuilding of America.
I'm sure you've heard the story how in the negotiations following World War I, Germany was saddled with such huge and putative payments, that it sent their economy into collapse and spurred the rise of the Nazis? Historian Margret MacMillian says you heard wrong.
At the Paris peace talks of 1919, President Woodrow Wilson was very clear that there should be no punitive fines on the losers, only legitimate costs. The other major statesmen in Paris, Prime Ministers David Lloyd George of Britain and Georges Clemenceau of France, reluctantly agreed, and Germany equally reluctantly signed the treaty. ... The fact is that Germany could have managed to pay, but for political reasons chose not to. ... In 1924 and again in 1929, the total sum owed was negotiated down. In 1933, when the Nazis took power, Hitler simply canceled reparations unilaterally. In the end, it has been calculated, Germany paid less in real terms than France did after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 to ’71 (and France paid off those obligations in just a few years).
Not only is this op-ed interesting for the fiscal facts behind the "war to end all wars," but the way in which the meaning (and even the outcome) of the war was reworked by political forces over the following decades is a cautionary tale for America.
And yes, Virginia (and England, and France) a white Christmas really can come from global warming. Judah Cohen explains why more heat can perversely result in more snow.
As global temperatures have warmed and as Arctic sea ice has melted over the past two and a half decades, more moisture has become available to fall as snow over the continents. ... the Eastern United States, Northern Europe and East Asia have experienced extraordinarily snowy and cold winters since the turn of this century. Most forecasts have failed to predict these colder winters, however, because the primary drivers in their models are the oceans, which have been warming even as winters have grown chillier.
Washington Post Outlook & Opinions
George Will is shocked to find that states actually pay state employees. And is totally sure it wouldn't affect state sovereignty to tell states that they have to screw their employees at least as badly as corporations do.
One unexpected effect of Rahm Emanuel's return to the windy city? David Ignatius says it may be streamlining the Obama administration's efforts at foreign policy.
The foreign policy challenges of the past two months were also the first test of the new national security adviser, Tom Donilon. ... Donilon's advantage, it appears, is that he is master of the house at the National Security Council. His predecessor, Gen. Jim Jones, also tried to run an orderly process, but he had to look over his shoulder at Rahm Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff who operated in a sort of prime ministerial role. Emanuel often used Donilon (who was Jones's deputy) as his personal foreign policy operative, which confused lines of responsibility.
And the editors run through the busted myths of 2010, including
Scott Brown's victory in the Massachusetts Senate race means health-care legislation is dead....
Immigrants take jobs from American workers....
Extending the Bush tax cuts would be a good way to stimulate the economy...
Mosques lead to homegrown terrorism....
The troops oppose repealing "don't ask, don't tell."....
Let's just hope they're wrong about this myth being busted.
Sarah Palin is unelectable.
George Soros was interviewed by the editors of New Scientist, who apparently don't know that he's responsible for half the chalk expended in Glen Beck's blackboard nightmares. Soros has donated $50m for economics research and to set up a new economics institute in New York City.
At The Hill Rick Perry says he's a "definite no" when it comes to running for President of the United States in 2012. Yeah, but, did anyone ask him about President of Texas?
The Ghent Altarpiece is a piece of religious artwork showing pilgrims bowing to the "lamb of God." It's the size of a barn door, weighs more than an elephant... and has been repeatedly stolen.
"White nose disease" has been spreading across the US for five years now, killing over a million bats and plunging several species to near extinction. Unfortunately, it looks as if a cull of infected animals will not help.