David Brooks on Germany and the Limits of Stimuli The New York Times columnist makes the case that stimulus programs can only go so far when it comes to helping a vulnerable economy. Citing Germany's recent rapid economic growth, he concludes that "stimulus size is not the key factor in determining how quickly a country emerges from recession... The crucial issue is getting the fundamentals right," which, he argues, the U.S. has not. The economy can't simply "be played like a piano," Brooks says, where you "press a fiscal key here and the right job creation notes come out over there." He likens the process of economic recovery to parenting children. In both instances, "if you instill good values and create a secure climate then, through some mysterious process you will never understand, things will probably end well."
Raghuram Rajan on Easy Credit and Inequality's Roots The growing income disparity within the U.S. economy has done tremendous damage during this prolonged recession, argues The New Republic contributor. This is not a new problem, but it's one politicians often ignore, or address too simplistically. "What results, then, is a series of short-term policy fixes that may do more damage than good--in fact, some of these fixes helped to create the Great Recession." The government has encouraged lending as the solution to such equality, but this easy credit only serves to put a patch on a wider problem. Rajan ventures that a series of economic pilot projects and an unwavering commitment to upgrading skills and education may be the only solution, though "this is much harder than doling out credit or keeping interest rates really low."
Anthony Giddens on Climate Inaction in Russia The world's largest nation is now the third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases globally, yet the government has been responding to the threat of climate change "cavalierly" at best, reports the London School of Economics professor in a Financial Times column. Russia, by virtue of its size, is particularly vulnerable to coastal flooding, melting ice, and storms. While President Medvedev made overtures to becoming more energy efficient and lessening the nation's dependence on oil, gas and minerals over the next fifteen years, he would be wise to follow through on his promises. Reducing carbon-emissions "could stimulate Russian economic development, rather than inhibit it. Indeed, responding to climate change could become a major vehicle for the economic modernisation the leadership seeks."
Ted Stroll on the Drawbacks to the 1964 Wilderness Act Writing in The New York Times, Stroll argues that despite its good intentions, the 1964 Wilderness Act has made some of America's most pristine landscapes less accessible to average citizens. Stroll notes that the Forest Service's "zealous enforcement" of the law has led to the banning of "signs, baby strollers, certain climbing tools and carts that hunters use to carry game." Stroll believes the ban on signage "has become a safety issue." By refusing to yield to a less dogmatic interpretation of the law, the Forest Service is making Americans less safe in the wild.
Michael Rubin on the Importance of Najaf in Post-war Iraq Home to two holy shrines, the city of Najaf is the center of Shiite jurisprudence in the Islamic world. It is also critically important to the "new" Iraq, asserts the Washington Post contributor. A new international airport ferries tourists into a suddenly thriving Shiite environment. Diners and hotels are rising up as diplomats mingle with citizens across the socioeconomic spectrum. It is essential, therefore, to extend American influence in the city: "the freedom enjoyed in Najaf will not matter if the United States has no diplomats permanently in Shiite Islam's Vatican City, ready to make Washington's case; America's enemies will define our legacy."