Must Read Op-Eds for October 12, 2011

Updated
SOMETHING’S HAPPENING HERE BY THOMAS FRIEDMAN
NEW YORK TIMES

Yes, corporations now have access to more cheap software…labor and genius than ever. So holding a job takes more talent. But the flip side is that individuals anywhere can now access the flow to take online courses…or to collaborate with people anywhere. We have more big problems than ever and more problem-solvers than ever. So there you have it: Two master narratives — one threat-based, one opportunity-based, but both involving seismic changes. Gilding is actually an optimist at heart. He believes that while the Great Disruption is inevitable, humanity is best in a crisis, and, once it all hits, we will rise to the occasion and produce transformational economic and social … Hagel is also an optimist. He knows the Great Disruption may be barreling down on us, but he believes that the Big Shift has also created a world where more people than ever have the tools…You decide. PROSPERO’S TEMPESTUOUS FAMILY BY MAUREEN DOWD
NEW YORK TIMES

Like Shakespearean drama, where fathers haunt and where siblings are swept apart by a shipwreck only to learn later that the other is still alive, Steve and Mona met only in their mid-20s. Jobs began the hunt for his biological mother in his teens and was ready to give up, he told The Times’s Steve Lohr, when he finally discovered at age 27 that he had a younger sister. He was thrilled that she was an artist because he liked to think of himself as one. The computer whiz kid and the literary whiz kid grew close… [Mona] Simpson mined the theme of missing fathers for her critically acclaimed novels “Anywhere But Here” and “The Lost Father.” She also wrote a novel inspired by her famous brother, “A Regular Guy,” which casts a gimlet eye on Jobs, who specialized in hot-cold emotional roller-coaster rides.

KICKIN THE WALL ST. HABIT BY HAROLD MEYERSON
WASHINGTON POST

There are, as I conceded, complexities to all this. Should the pledge apply to all banks or just the big ones? To individual bankers or just their institutions? Why single out finance when there are other socially problematic sectors — oil, say — that use their financial clout to buy favored treatment? It’s the banks, though, that have become the leading target of the left’s populist ire. And for an anti-bank movement looking for a program, and a politician looking to ride that populist wave and help diminish the role of money in politics, here’s a cause to take up tomorrow morning: For the pols, swearing off the banks’ big bucks. For the occupiers and their friends, helping those pols by ponying up themselves.

CAN OBAMA SWING THE SWING VOTERS ON THE ECONOMY? BY RUTH MARCUS
WASHINGTON POST

Having spent an evening last week watching, via video hookup, focus groups of “Wal-Mart Moms” in Florida, New Hampshire and Iowa, I have no doubt that voters are despondent about the economy and fed up with their politicians. Even those who supported Obama in 2008 were disappointed in his performance; some who did not vote for him expressed sympathy with his plight. But they reserved their greatest exasperation for Congress, which, as one New Hampshire woman put it, is “playing a game of dodge ball.” Obama may want to run, Truman-like, against Congress. But he also told voters three years ago that he was the one to stop the dodge ball. Having failed, however predictably, he must now convince voters that he deserves more time and that his solutions are better. That may be true — but, as the poll suggests, it will also be a hard sell.

WALL STREET’S GULLIBLE OCCUPIERS BY PETER J WALLISON
WALL STREET JOURNAL

The government’s rescue of Bear Stearns in March 2008 temporarily calmed the market. But it created significant moral hazard: Market participants were led to believe that the government would rescue all large financial institutions. When Lehman Brothers was allowed to fail in September, investors panicked. They withdrew their funds from the institutions that held large amounts of privately issued MBS, causing banks and others—such as investment banks, finance companies and insurers—to hoard cash against the risk of further withdrawals. Their refusal to lend to one another in these conditions froze credit markets, bringing on what we now call the financial crisis.  The narrative that came out of these events—largely propagated by government officials and accepted by a credulous media—was that the private sector’s greed and risk-taking caused the financial crisis and the government’s policies were not responsible. This narrative stimulated the punitive Dodd-Frank Act—fittingly named after Congress’s two key supporters of the government’s destructive housing policies. It also gave us the occupiers of Wall Street.

THE ARAB WORLD’S UNKNOWN SON BY FOUAD AJAMI
WALL STREET JOURNAL

I write this from Steve Jobs’s hometown of Palo Alto, Calif., the place where he lived, where he met his wife, and where he died. On University Avenue is an elegant and spacious Apple Store, now a shrine to the man who so well mastered our age. The sidewalk is crowded with gifts. There are the obligatory bitten apples, sealed envelopes, bouquets of flowers, and countless notes in many languages. Three notes in Arabic were of particular interest to me, simple and unadorned. “Steve, you have changed the world, may Allah have mercy on your soul.” “Our generation thanks you, Steve Jobs.” The third was my favorite. “Three apples changed the world, Adam’s apple, Newton’s apple, and Steve’s apple.” I doubt if these three people thought one way or the other of Jobs’s Syrian background. More likely, they were believers in his magic and genius, drawn to him by the wonders he had opened up for them.

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Must Read Op-Eds for October 12, 2011

Updated